Factors That Hinder Church Growth

Church growth is difficult.

It’s one of the most obvious and yet most misunderstood statements about church health that you’ll ever hear. Why? Because church growth is hard work, for the leadership and everyone in the community. 

Nobody really wants to hear that because we want to believe that our passion for our mission will create enough momentum to drive growth indefinitely. But that isn’t realistic. 

Church growth is more than numbers and building a large attendance. It’s about impacting the world for Jesus Christ. So what are some things that can kill church growth?

Factors Affecting Church Growth

Church growth is one of the most important obligations in our Christian faith. It is what allows the gospel to be preached and heard in every corner of the world. Despite this importance, there are many things that can kill church growth before it even gets started. 

Church growth is a complex process that is affected by a variety of factors. The most important factor for church growth is the gospel, of course. However, many assume that “When the gospel is preached and taught with power and clarity, churches will grow.” 

Well, that’s a good start, but that philosophy alone will only get you so far.

Other factors that affect church growth include the quality of the leadership, the level of commitment from the  community, the evangelistic zeal of the members, and the degree of social headwinds that they face.

Let’s get into some specific examples of what can kill church growth.

What Kills Church Growth

Examples of What Kills Church Growth

First it must be pointed out that what kills church growth can often be traced to the leadership focusing on the wrong issues. What are the most common of these? We can start with these 15 factors that are seen all-too-frequently.

  1. No Strong Church Identity. In the marketing space, this might be called “bad branding,” or just a total lack of brand awareness. Be unique, it’s your strongest selling point. 
  2. Pastor Burnout. When the shepherd is exhausted, his lack of enthusiasm is evident to the entire flock, and consequently, nobody is excited about strengthening the evangelism. 
  3. Inward focus. Church groups usually turn inward to meet their own needs, instead of becoming focused on helping others. This happens naturally. However, some groups work to resist this trend and focus on outreach instead.
  4. No growth strategy. “If you fail to plan, then you’ve planned to fail.” Some pastors assume that just because their current members gather and enjoy the fellowship, others will come automatically.
  5. Bad Preaching. Sometimes it’s not as biblically sound as it should be. At other times, it’s just plain boring. Either way, its an obstacle to growth.
  6. Lack of Enthusiasm for Evangelism. This usually starts with the leadership. A church that lacks a passion for evangelism will usually become complacent and only focus on maintaining what they have.
  7. Internal Squabbles. It’s challenging to reach outside of the church when everyone is vying for power and control within the church. In addition, outsiders are not interested in stepping into a heated arena.
  8. Not Enough Praying Together. The data backs this up. Churches whose members don’t often pray together are the ones most struggling to grow. Embrace the power of group prayer
  9. Physical Space Constraints. While it’s a good problem to have when the congregation has outgrown its facility space… more people from the greater community won’t come where there isn’t enough room for them.
  10. Weak Discipleship. When members don’t grow in their own faith, they don’t have the spiritual strength or knowhow to bring new members into the fold. 
  11. Pastors Aren’t Developing Leaders. The shepherd can’t do it all by him/herself. Other leaders must be nurtured in order for the entire congregation to grow. 
  12. Not Matching The Needs Of The Community. There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to growing a church. Every community is different and a church should adapt to the unique needs of the citizens in their area..
  13. Resistance to Change. This is a common one. Sometimes a pastor will find a “formula” that worked at a different time or in a different place than his/her current situation. They often have a hard time recognizing that what worked before is no longer working.
  14. Not Tracking the Data. You can’t evaluate what you don’t measure. So, make sure you’re tracking your numbers and try to get as detailed as possible. 
  15. Not Calling Your Audience To Action. People usually won’t act until they are called upon to do so. They are looking to their pastor for leadership, so don’t be shy about asking them to take action. 

Mistakes That Kill Church Growth

Churches don’t usually “tread water.” In other words, if you’re not growing, then you’re probably in a state of slow decline. Don’t let that happen. 

Which mistakes that kill church growth have you made yourself or noticed inside your church?

Are you “assuming” that church growth is natural and will take care of itself? Are you focusing on programs rather than people? Are you being inward-focused instead of outward-focused?

All of these things are obstacles to church growth. If you need some help sort all of this out, then contact us today and let us help you get on the path to success!

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