Stan Jones, Philadelphia, MS – I believe we operate in seasons. There are seasons of growth, and there are times when it seems like you are stagnant. I don’t think it’s that you’re contrary to the Word of God. The Bible speaks of the Lord adding to the church daily, but that daily for us can be next week. In those times when you are not growing, I believe God uses it to prepare you for growth. It’s a time to fast, pray and empower those we already have.
Some ministries grew overnight but they were not prepared for the growth, and they produced people who couldn’t handle anything.
Art Wilson, Detroit, MI – When nothing is happening in our church, we shake things up. We call our church into 24-hour prayer revivals. Then we bring in the five-fold ministry: people who have a special anointing on them to get us out of that valley. Once the momentum is broken, we are back on the mountaintop.
I recommend that every pastor have a covering. Every area has a different combination to revival. When the pastor can’t hear, sometimes that covering can hear. Then the pastor will know which method to implement to get through that valley and dry time.
Larry Arrowood, Seymour, IN – I don’t think there are certain numbers where growth stops; rather, I think there are factors that stop church growth. These include the building size, the location or inadequate parking. Another major factor is going into a building program to accommodate growth but allowing the focus on soul winning to stop because we are so focused on the building project. We have to continue to evaluate ourselves and ask the question, “Are we still focusing on the lost?” Our plateaus are generally at building size and lack of focus.
If growth has stopped, it could be a lack of staff to facilitate the ministry that growth demands. Also, when we reach a certain size, we can become self-sufficient because we have adequate income, great programs, etc., and we focus in-house instead of focusing on the lost. We fail to put the vision of soul winning before the people, and we allow the program of ministering to the church family to consume us. Also, we have to grow ourselves personally by additional training, or figuring out what we are not doing right, or growth will stagnate.
The congregation has to mature so they can allow a transition of what they expect of a pastor. As the church grows, they will have to accept that the pastor can’t do what he used to do, or they are going to prevent the church from growing. I’m not saying that one mentality is better than the other. But one mentality works in a small church and another works in a big church.
David Church, Valparaiso, IN – We’ve plateaued a few of times. Growth almost always slows when the church gets out of the mentality of teaching Bible studies. When this happens, we commit 2-3 Wednesday nights to outreach training and Bible study training seminars. This can be done in-house, but we also bring in outside evangelists who specialize in growth through Bible studies. Sometimes an outside voice is needed. This creates excitement and desire for growth in personal evangelism.
We are teaching our members to practice their personal testimony (always be ready with an answer for the hope that is in you) and then share it in their own network of friends and co-workers. The preliminary goal is getting a Bible study. The end goal is making a disciple from a new convert. This is what disciples do. This is what Jesus taught us to do. Good disciples make good disciples. Making a disciple is a long process borne out of prayer, love, relationship and much teaching.
Phil Trawick, Selma, AL – A plateau for us is an attitude rather than a place. When we start growing, it’s as though the members say, “We’ve had some new interest. God is at work. Hallelujah! We can settle back down now.” When I sense that is happening in our people, I start pushing aggressively again to get that out of them.
I don’t have any plateaus. I’m never satisfied with the growth that we do achieve and try to maintain. When we experience a closed door, I find myself pushing more and more and more: looking for another one that might be opened.
John Martin, Muncie, IN – If you set a building on fire, people will come from miles to watch it burn. If the church is not on the move, people are not going to stick. I don’t care how much structure you have. Every time people come, I want to have a move of God. Society is so sick of dead church. It’s got to be like camp meeting. If it’s not, when I get home, I’m trying to figure out what we can do to get our service ramped up to where it needs to be.
Prayer is line item number one at this church, but outside the basics of praying, an evangelist told me, you always need a project going. It keeps the people interested and engaged.