How do you break through the natural barriers that hinder church growth? Over the years, I have learned that 100, 200, 400, 600,etc, form hurdles that seem difficult to overcome. The 1000 barrier is especially difficult.
Conversely, breaking through those barriers makes moving to the next level relatively easy.
How do you break through these barriers, particularly the most difficult of all–the 100 barrier?
One of the areas that you must conquer is the need your people have to see the vision God has placed before the church. When First Covington began to grow, I developed two plans to help the people see the vision.
First, I gave a copy of Lyle Schaller’s Growing Plans to our deacons. In Growing Plans, Schaller describes how small, medium, and large churches grow. Most church people have never considered how churches grow. Afterall, it makes sense. They don’t have the luxury of thinking about church 60-80 hours a week. I do because that’s where my job is. Their jobs keep them from considering how it is that churches grow. Growing Plans helped our leaders see how they could help the church follow its mandate to reach people for Christ. This is where we learned to “staff to grow, not plateau.” That phase became a staple in our personnel and finance team meetings. They had caught the vision! You can read more about this aspect of the plan here. http://waylonbailey.com/2011/12/breaking-100-staffing-to-grow-not-plateau/.
Second, I regularly invite the leaders of the church to a “Vision Meeting.” It’s a simple concept. I want the leaders to hear firsthand what I hope to accomplish in the next year or so. You can read a summary of breaking barriers here. http://waylonbailey.com/2011/11/how-to-move-your-attendance-beyond-100/.
I simply invite all deacons, Sunday School teachers, and committee members to the meeting. The meeting consists of my talking for about an hour. I usually go down a (well-prepared) list of 10-20 items that I want to accomplish. One of the things that I always say (by the way always speak only the truth) is that I do not know whether or not we can accomplish these items or whether the church will choose to, but this is what I hope to accomplish.
I begin by briefly explaining where we are now in various areas such as finances, worship and Bible study attendance, and baptisms and new members. Then, we move to the areas that I hope the church can accomplish, These include building projects and ministries. Two ministries in recent years are Celebrate Recovery and Hands in Hand (a ministry for special needs families).
Several years ago one of the young men in the church noted that one year later we had accomplished all the areas covered in the vision meeting. A vision meeting helps the people get ready to grow and reach people. It sets the agenda and develops a plan.
Probably the most important value of the vision meeting is that the people begin to think about these ministries and projects. If they are well thought out and prayed over plans, the people will slowly begin to adopt them as their own.
When that happens, the church is ready to jump significant hurdles.
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