It’s impossible for your church to grow and everything to stay the same. I know it would be nice if everything could stay the same as the church grows, but it can’t. And the secret underlying truth is as your church grows you will lose some things along the way. But that’s kind of the point. You simply can’t move from here (current reality) to there (preferred future) and everything stay the way it is. If it did, you’d never get “there,” you’d just stay where you are. Understanding that, here are 10 things you lose when your church grows:
This isn’t the goal of growth and no one “wants” to lose people, but it’s inevitable with growth. You are going to lose people. You’ll hear the age old complaint, “The church is changing and it’s not what it used to be.” But that’s kind of the point isn’t it? If every church stayed the way it was, no one new would enter the kingdom. And if every person stayed the way they were they’d never be conformed into the image of Christ. Change is required to walk with Jesus.
#2 Staff & Volunteers
The most difficult thing to lose as the church grows is not just people but key people. Particularly Staff and Volunteers. However the reality is the people that got you to where you are aren’t necessarily going to take you where you’re going. They had a particular personality, gifting, and skill-set to be the right person at the right time. But that also inevitably means that eventually everyone is the wrong person at some point as well.
#3 Your Parking Spot & Favorite Seat
Chances are if your church is going to grow it means there are going to be new people showing up, and unless you have your name on your parking stall and a sign on your seat eventually you’re going to head to church and have to find another place to park and another place to sit. If your church is going to grow it means you’re going to have to get used to change, and you’re going to have to give something up. Probably a lot of something.
#4 Relational Connections
When the church is smaller you can lean into and lead through key relational connections. In fact you can know everyone in the church when the church is smaller. Not so in a larger church. It doesn’t mean everyone can’t be known it just means you can’t know everyone.
#5 Segment Targeted Ministries
In a smaller church, moments like child dedications and high school graduations can be celebrated in the main worship service. As the church grows these celebrations will come to be limited to Segment Targeted Ministries such as Children’s or Student Ministries.
#6 Insider Focused Ministries
As your church grows you will begin to lose insider-focused ministries. You know, those ministries that keep the core long-term attenders happy but have no impact on people outside the faith. Time, finances, facility and people resources (which all have finite limitations) will naturally transition towards reaching outsiders. Sorry ladies, that quilting club might not make it.
Clarity is king when growth takes place. If your church is going to grow it means you are going to leave ambiguity behind. You are going to have to get crystal clear on vision, roles, action, cultural behaviors and what the next hill is. In fact that speed at which you are able to move forward hinges on your ability to shed ambiguity.
#8 Winging It
If your church is going to grow, those days of just winging it are going to come to a close. The days of just walking in and using a room, or taking some tables and chairs for a family reunion are over. It will take a coordinated effort to integrate the ministry calendar, budget resources, and people. You’ll need to learn to plan your work and work your plan, because you get what you plan for.
#9 Ministry Preferences
As the church grows you lose your ministry preferences as the leader, unless you’re a micro-manager, but if that’s the case then there is already a lid on the growth of your church. As the leader you’re not going design ministry the way you once did. Your attention will need to be elsewhere. And not everything is going to do things the way you would. Don’t freak out. If they’re doing it at 80% of how you would do it, let it go. If it’s under that threshold then coach them.
#10 The Power to make Decisions
Guess what. As the church grows something counter-intuitive happens. Instead of gaining decision making, as the leader you actually lose out on making decisions. You’ll make less day-to-day decisions but the decisions you’ll make will be heavier and affect everyone.
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