We all seem to want to grow our churches, ministries, businesses and the such but more often than not we don’t see that growth. I have spent tons of time at conferences with the best of them, listened to story after story, read book after book about how to grow and yet I still hear and see things remain the same in so many places, churches, and businesses. What is some of the cause of this stagnation or decline after a while? Do we bring it on ourselves? I believe in a saying that I heard John Maxwell say (I am not sure if he created the statement but it was him that I heard say it first for me) “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” It is over the years that I continue to realize the truth in this statement.
I see that once leadership has traveled down a certain path, it is difficult to choose a new path but not impossible. Often times barriers to the growth that so many are after come from the leadership (Even as I write this today I too am part of leadership in many of my circles, so my hands are not completely innocent either) that is caused by repeated patterns of behavior, otherwise know as “path dependency” which is the term I first read about in the book, “The very large church” by Lyle Schaller.
I have always been taught by some of the greatest mentors out there in the church and business world that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome. How many times have we constrained ourselves to destructive patterns in our churches or businesses that prevent the growth we are talking about? Our churches and businesses are to grow and have an impact into our culture for Christ.
I want to take a few moments and look at only two even though there are several fundamentals that could help us break through and into the growth we should be part of.
1. Clarity of Vision
Churches must have a heart for people. If your vision is to care for the contented, then you will not produce passion in your people or volunteers to reach outside your current boundaries.
One of the exciting things of having a clear vision is recognizing the needs currently in your communities. Instead of waiting for the community to show up at our doorsteps, churches break through a barrier by being present in normal ever day society, meeting actual physical, emotional, spiritual needs of the people. Churches that are effective reaching people are those who see the needs of those outside of the church and establish ministries that allow the church to be present in the community, and they also have a process by which they are able to draw these people into the safety and care of the church.
Leaders of growing churches or businesses also know who they are, why they exist, and where they are going. They communicate this and communicate this over and over very clearly and assume always that they must continue to communicate it. Leaders in growing churches and businesses build bridges to the future while they are walking there.
2. Unity of leadership
I had read a book by Larry Osborne, pastor of North Coast Community Church in the San Diego area which he titled, “The Unity Factor”. The key message of this book was, “Get the key influencers in your church to share a common vision.” Without leadership in leadership there will never be a lasting ministry or growth that breaks through their barriers.
I think a lot of times their isn’t unity due to leaders who are afraid for one reason or not to confront those not in unity. Often times we can hear from these leaders words like these: “oh that’s the way they are”, or “I don’t think God wants us to treat people like that”, or “someday they will come around and understand”. Let us keep in mind that each of our visions for each of our churches will not be for everyone. That’s ok, let them go to the church where the vision fits them. I love the way Ed Young the pastor of Fellowship church in Grapevine, Texas says about his church, “That Fellowship Church is not for everyone”, and because he and his unified team are willing to stand by that that have found thousands of people who find that Fellowship Church is for them.
In closing this, I think some of us have done the math wrong, since we haven’t been willing to stand by a clear vision for our church we have seen a couple stay happy for a season but have lost 10, 20, 50, 100, 1000’s of people who have come in our churches and sensed something wasn’t right and left to go where there is a clear vision and people who will stand by what that means for that church.
God does want us to break through barriers, we need to take steps necessary to see those growth barriers removed, today , because people are counting on us.