Last weekend, my wife Deborah and I drove to San Fernando, Pampanga, for our Central Luzon Discipleship 2013 conference. We now have 11 Victory churches in the region. About 1,000 Victory Group leaders attended the conference. I wish you could have been there—amazing stories of the gospel changing lives!
As great as the conference was, I had a troubling conversation with a pastor and his wife. I have had similar conversations with pastors on other continents. Here’s the all-too-familiar story:
Do you realize that if your weekend attendance totals about 90 people, you’re an above average church (at least in the United States and when measuring by such numbers)?
If you’re wondering what you need to do to grow, here are eight steps that can help you break an attendance barrier:
1) Decide you really, really want to grow. Believe it or not, the primary barrier to church growth is desire. Do you really want to grow? If the answer is yes, then you must commit to this goal and be willing to accept changes.
Closing the back door is more about keeping the front door wide open. The spirit and atmosphere that makes a church inviting is the same spirit and atmosphere that makes people want to stay.
Church leaders have been talking about “closing the back door” for years. It’s a good conversation. After all, it is frustrating to see visitors come, people say yes to Jesus, get baptized and maybe even attend a new Christian’s class. And yet, the church still struggles to grow. People seem to be coming in the front and going out the back.
Recently, I did an article on “7 Women Pastors Need to Watch Out For.” Someone who just read it wanted to know why we put the blame on the women when pastors are more likely to be the sexual predator.
“Google that,” she suggested, “and see for yourself.” My only defense is that in the body of the article, we said, “Sometimes women are the victims; sometimes they are the victimizers.” However, my critic is correct. And thus, what follows …
I’ve known more than one pastor who was a sexual predator. And if it makes readers feel any better, every one of them is out of the ministry now.
Pastor Jeff is at it again—this is his third week in a row without a break.
Monday is his day off, and he takes it. But most weeks, it looks like this:
1. Get up early to “enjoy” time with the kids (who are not morning people and therefore not very enjoyable).
2. Then, once the kids are off, he sits to have quiet time. Lately, whenever he opens the Scriptures, he sees options for his next sermon and starts jotting them down.
3. The morning quickly fades, and the “honey do” list needs attention. Jeff mows the lawn, fixes the gutter and trims the hedges.
4. To ease stress on the family and give his wife a break, Jeff decides to make dinner.
5. The kids need shepherding through chores and homework and, at long last, it is time for real rest.
6. But it is almost bedtime, and tomorrow morning is staff meeting. Jeff takes a few moments to collect his thoughts for Tuesday and finally falls asleep.
I’ve been in church all my life. Along the way, I’ve seen and learned a lot. Almost all the insight I have into church has come by experience.
I have observed, for example, that paradigms can often shape a church’s culture. A paradigm, in simple terms, is a mind-set—a way of thinking. In this case, it's a collective mind-set of the church, often programmed into the church’s culture.
If the church is unhealthy, part of the reason could be because it has some wrong paradigms. In that case, it will almost always need a paradigm shift in order to be a healthier church again.
Recently, I’ve been thinking of some of the paradigms that impact a church. I’ll look at some of the negative ones in this post, and in another post I'll share some of the positive paradigms that can impact a church.
Here are 10 dangerous church paradigms: