5 Sure Ways to Stunt Church Growth

As a pastor I studied each church I served to see what we could do to grow and reach more people for Christ. One of the things we attempted to do was to define where the walls were that were stopping growth and then we attempted to move them one by one. If you remove those barriers you will usually have a break through.

1. Disregarding the 80% rule

If your worship or Sunday School class is averaging 80% attendance you will not move beyond that barrier. I have seen this principle proven true over and over. I am a big advocate of multiple worships and multiple Sunday Schools. You don’t have to build a new worship center or educational building to grow, just use your facilities more than once a week. In one church I pastored we went from one to three worships and each time it produced new growth.

2. Sporadic Follow Up with Guests

It’s not enough that your church has guests each week but what is your strategy for follow up. This is one of the most important things a church can do. It requires forethought, time, and energy but brings great dividends as these guests return to your church, trust Christ, and join. Handle those guest cards prayerfully and with great care.

3. Not enough parking spots

At one church I served we got on top of the building and watched cars drive away one Sunday because they could not find a parking spot. It is easy for us to judge people and say, “why don’t they just park away or car pool” but the truth is guests do not think that way. We must do all we can to make it easy not difficult for people to get into our parking lots and then into our facilities. Make sure you have plenty of handicap, guest spots, parents with preschoolers, etc. places reserved.

4. Boring worship

This is not a question of musical style in worship or as we commonly say, “worship wars.” It is about a worship that is well thought out, connected, prayed over, and has a good flow. Put some energy into your worship! God’s Word is not boring. We may be boring but our message is anything but boring so teach, sing, serve, and preach with passion and energy. Use new illustrations, humor, object lessons, video or live testimonies, drama, tag- team preaching, music, visuals, art, and other creative ways of communicating the truth.

5. Not connecting to your community

We have all heard the phrase, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Today we must win the right to be heard and to present the Gospel and our testimonies. That means we must show our community in tangible ways that we are serious about meeting needs and making a difference. It is not enough to just have a good message (the talk) we must walk the walk and demonstrate that our faith is the real deal.

Study your community and discover what the needs are, then strategize to meet those needs. Clean up the local park, adopt a local school to provide tutoring or supply needed supplies for teachers, give away smoke alarm batteries door to door. Any way we can provide that cold cup of water that Jesus talked about in Matthew 10:42 will help get us outside the walls of our churches and into the fabric of our community. After all that is where the harvest is!

Look closely at your church and determine the walls that need to come down in order for healthy growth to take place. Trust in the Lord to provide the steps and process necessary to remove those walls.

Keep the Son in Your Eyes,

Mike James



  1. Thanks Joyce for those great ideas. May the Lord continue to bless your church as you reach people for Christ.

  2. Heartland Worship Center in Paducah has a ministry called Acts of Compassion Through Service (ACTS). They gather gently used clothing, used household items and furniture, much like Goodwill. The difference is, they give the items away through bi-weekly openings to the people with needs in the community while using this as a tool to share the Good News.

    Another program at Heartland Worship Center that is being replicated across Western KY is JumpStart. Names of children with needs are collected from family services at the schools in the area. Then, the students and their families are invited to attend a special back-to-school event where they receive free hair cuts, classes on personal hygiene, a trip to the ACTS house for school clothes and a trip to WalMart to shop for back-to school needs. The parents are invited to attend classes on parenting, money mangement, etc. while the students are busy having fun. Each family attending is paired with a church family for the day of fun and shopping.

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