bits from bob....
Why Is This Church Growing? Questions for the Church
by Bob Young
[permission is given to reprint with credit noted]
Through 41 years of ministry, I have had a bit of ministry experience with churches. Yet, in one sense, the experience is not all that much. We spent 12 years in Christian higher education. We spent 20 years with two churches that grew marvelously. The remainder of our full-time ministry was spent with four churches. Three of those churches represent our first six years in ministry. We were green; it was a different world; we were learning as we went. During our years in higher education, we served at least six churches as interim minister. Today, I serve as a church consultant and assist with interim ministries.
I am often asked why some churches grow and others do not. What makes the difference? What differences can one identify or point to? What causes one church to move forward wonderfully and another to struggle? I do not claim to have all the answers. I can tell you that from my observation, it is not solely the minister. In fact, it is seldom the minister. Many churches grow despite turnover and problems with ministers.
To try to answer the question, I have thought about the churches I know, those with which I have worked. I have analyzed my full-time ministry settings, and the churches that I have known intimately through interim ministry or church consultations. From that analysis, I have developed a set of questions that may provide a beginning point for answering the question about why churches have different results.
Last updated March 7, 2011
- What are the leadership skill sets of the formal leaders? Do the leaders know how to lead? Do they shepherd and mentor and equip and model as they guide and decide? Do they have an expansive view of their task, or a narrow constricting view?
- Are the leaders recognized as spiritual men? Do the leaders provide spiritual examples, spiritual mentoring, and spiritual guidance?
- Are the leaders perceived as risk takers, leaders who operate by faith, leaders who are confident in their own person (self-esteem) and their own faithful discipleship which stretches the limits of faith?
- Are the leaders willing to delegate major areas of responsibility and involve the members? Are they equippers of the saints for good works (Eph. 4:11ff), or do they maintain tight control?
- Do the leaders model desired behaviors and demonstrate priorities and a healthy emphasis through their lives? Do they accept responsibility within the flock (not as formal leaders) and model service and involvement?
- Do the leaders' wives model spiritual living, active service and involvement?
- Do leaders communicate direction, purpose, and hope through a plan and vision? Does the church hear about the challenge and goals from the leaders as well as from the ministry staff?
- Does the church culture or church DNA support and expect growth, outreach, and a forward look?
- Does the church have a dream for the future ("our best days are yet ahead") or does it suffer from the "glory years syndrome" so that the fondest looks are backward?
- Does the church have a reasonable amount of in-flow and out-flow so that it remains vibrant, alive, active, and fresh?