We use these terms all the time when we are attempting to share about how our churches are doing, so let’s define what we mean by these three terms: plateau, health and growth.
Plateaued: A plateau is a relatively level or stable period in the life of an organization. The word itself denotes a ledge. A ledge is a flat level surface. A plateaued church shows a historic, flat line on growth graphs when examining key statistical elements. Robert Dale defines the plateaued church this way: “When ministry loses its focus on extending and expanding God’s kingdom, an organizational plateau occurs” (To Dream Again). A plateaued church is not extending and expanding in reaching and assimilating new people, therefore growth ceases. “Plateau is a stage in the life of an organization such as a church. Plateaus are part of the life-cycle of any organization, including the church. A plateaued church is in a period of inertia where the church has little movement forward in the area of growth.
Is your church plateaued or growing? What are your plans to move off the ledge?
Church Health: I believe the key issue for churches today is church health, not church growth. When congregations are healthy, they grow the way God intends. Wagner says, “Church growth and church health are interrelated. Only healthy bodies grow well, and only healthy churches grow well. Conversely, healthy churches can be expected to grow it is one of the signs of good health” (Your Spiritual Gifts).
The enemy is working overtime to make our churches sick spiritually. We must guard the fellowship and keep prayer at the center of all we do in order to defeat the enemy. Churches today are imploding and it is usually not over deep theological issues but personal preferences like music style, carpet colors, etc.
Would you say your church is healthy? What is your strategy to priomote solid fellowship and church health for your church?
Church Growth: Let me share two definitions of church growth. The first is a classical definition and the second is somewhat more practical.
“Church growth is that discipline which investigates the nature, expansion, planting, multiplication, function, and health of Christian churches as they relate to the effective implementation of God’s commission to ‘make disciples of all peoples’ (Matt. 28:18-20). This second definition is more current and practical.
“Church growth is not produced by a program, plan, or marketing strategy. Your church’s greatest need is not a clearer understanding of its demographics, but a clearer understanding of its God. Church growth is not something we do or produce in the church. Church growth is not the result of any program or plan. Church growth is the by-product of a right relationship with the Lord of the church. Church growth is by definition a supernatural activity and thus is accomplished through the church by the Lord Himself. When Jesus founded the church He promised that He Himself would build the church. Church growth occurs when the local church supernaturally and faithfully fulfills the Great Commission in its unique context and with a vision for the world” (Hemphill, Antioch Effect).
Based on this definition would you say your church is experiencing church growth? What is the next step to grow your church that the Lord is leading you to take?