Church Growth

7 Healthy Goals for your Church in 2020

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The start of a new year means a fresh start, and if your current ministry reality isn’t going so well, the new year is a great time to dream new dreams or refocus around the mission.

I’m one of those guys who loves to set goals, especially new year goals, so I want to encourage you, if you haven’t already, to set some goals for your church, BUT I want you to set healthy goals.

What are healthy goals?

Healthy goals are realistic goals set with pure motives. As you begin to think through your goals, ask yourself, “Why do I want to accomplish this goal?” Of course, one of the reasons is to grow the kingdom of God, but be honest enough with yourself to admit whether your goals are good ideas or God ideas.

It’s also important to set realistic goals. I’m careful to use the word, “realistic” because I want you to lead with faith. No doubt, there are some things God wants to do in your life and in your church that is unrealistic, but if you set unrealistic goals, you will lead discouraged and feel like you’re failing when you’re really winning.

I’ve put together a Free 2020 Pastor’s Bundle to help you get ahead and feel prepared heading into the new year. It includes:

  • A 2020 Preaching Calendar,
  • A 2020 One-Page Budget
  • An End-of-Year Staff Review Document
  • A Staff/Team Meeting Notes

It’s Free. Click here to download your free bundle.

Let me give you 7 healthy goals your church should have for the new year.

1. Use a Preaching Calendar

I’ve already written a lot about using a preaching calendar in this post, “4 Reasons You Should Be Using A Preaching Calendar” but let me give you the biggest reason why you need to use a preaching calendar: planning brings peace of mind. You can be as detailed or as loose as you want to be, but by taking the time to think through 52 weeks of preaching you are getting ahead of the game. Don’t feel like you have to put together sermon outlines or manuscripts, just prayerfully write in themes and big ideas that will allow you to plan ahead and gather ideas and resources.

Just a reminder, you can download a free Preaching Calendar as part of the 2020 Pastor’s Bundle. Click here.

2. 10% attendance growth

I’ve never, ever, met a church leader who didn’t want to grow. I’ve met pastors who were discouraged by their lack of growth, so they acted like they weren’t interested in growth as a self-defense mechanism, but every leader wants to experience progress, and when it comes to spreading the gospel message, church growth is one of the indicators of progress.

10% growth is a healthy goal, because it will cover for the 3-4% of members who leave your church, and it’s achievable for every church no matter what size. If you average 20 in attendance weekly, make it your goal to average 22 by the end of the year. If your average attendance is 1000, make it your goal to average 1100 by the end of the year.

The beauty of percentages is it’s an even playing field for everyone. You may feel like growing by five people isn’t successful, but if you average 50 people, that’s the equivalent of a church of 10,000 growing by 1000. Don’t be afraid to talk about growth to your church. Announce it to everyone, “we want to grow by 10% this year. If everyone will pray, show up, and invite someone to come with you, God will help us.”

3. Extended vacation time for the pastor

A pastor finding the time and help to take time away is not a small church problem, but the logistics are a greater struggle for smaller churches. Often the pastor and his family perform so many of the tasks on Sunday morning that their absence leaves a huge hole. Eventually, the work required to be gone is greater than the satisfaction of being gone, so you never take a break. Here is my challenge for you: Set the goal now to take back to back weeks of vacation AWAY from your church. Huh?

There are so many healthy benefits for you taking an extended vacation, I don’t have time to list them all, but let me give you these 4 real quick:

  1. It requires you to empower other people in your absence.
  2. It identifies anyone in your church who will be offended by your personal health and reveals who doesn’t have your best interest at heart.
  3. It identifies how much of a control freak you are.
  4.  It sends the message to your family that they are important, and you’re willing to be away from the church to be with them.

At the end of the day, you need a break to be at your best. The very fact that you want to push back against this idea proves that you need to do it. Go ahead and get your calendar out, identify a time in the year when the calendar is in a bit of a lull (lower attendance, no activities, etc.) Call a guest speaker, or inform someone in the church who could speak, and assign the responsibilities you normally cover to other people.

Are you ready for me to tell you something you won’t believe? When you get back, the church will still be there! It’s crazy I know, but it’s true, and don’t be offended if people talk about how great the services were without you.

4. A 1-time record-breaking attendance event

I talked about 10% attendance growth already, but I think it’s important for you to have a record-setting attendance event one time this year. Think of it like a balloon or a rubber band (or anything that stretches). By stretching your church to its maximum one time you are increasing the capacity for weekly growth.

If God doubled your church tomorrow, you probably wouldn’t have the systems or volunteers to maintain it, but you could rally the troops one time to try and reach a large number of people in your community. The benefits of a record-setting event are many:

  • You spread the word about your church to the community
  • You give people an opportunity to get excited and get involved
  • You raise the morale of the congregation and leaders
  • You have the opportunity to cast vision for what will be in the future
  • You could lead a large number of people to a relationship with Jesus

Pick a date and have a plan. You could use Easter, or a holiday event, or you could pick a random time. My personal preference is what our church calls “Sunday Funday” it’s just a new spin on “Friend Day.” We rent food trucks, and spend weeks promoting the event and encouraging the congregation to invite their friends and family. It’s always a big day for us. Again, keep percentages in mind. An extra 20-30 people could be the equivalent of an extra 5,000 for a megachurch, but whatever your context do it big, do it right, and do it wow!

5. Give the staff a Christmas bonus

This may not apply to you if you don’t have a paid staff, but if you do (or if you receive a paycheck) plan now to save in order to give a Christmas bonus to all the church employees. This is a healthy goal because everyone loves a bonus, but more importantly, it requires you to budget, save, and plan the church finances.

Unfortunately, many churches wait to see what the finances look like in December to decide if they can give anything extra. Obviously, if something unplanned arises or giving is down tremendously you may have to call an audible, but if you budget for it, you can accomplish it.

At my church, we use a 1-page budget, (you can download the budget in the 2020 Pastor’s Bundle) and build in Christmas bonuses for all paid staff (we do 1 week’s salary, but it can be whatever you plan for). The important part is not the bonus it’s the budget, but it’s a win for everyone if you can pull it off.

6. Take a mission’s trip

When I started pastoring my church 10 years ago, I was blown away to find out that in the 90-year history of the church it had never taken a mission trip. I couldn’t believe it! My dad started taking me on mission trips every year since I was 12, it’s just always been a part of my summer. Whether your church has never taken a trip or it does randomly, plan now to take at least one trip this year.

We took 19 people on our churches first mission trip to Argentina, and the effects are still being felt. You don’t have to travel to another country (although I do think there’s something powerful about leaving the US) but plan a trip that requires people to take time off work and sacrifice financially. Not only do mission trips help the people you serve but it broadens their world view. I’ve never taken anyone on a trip that did not come away more humbled and sensitive to what God was doing in the world. If you can make missions trips a consistent practice for your church, I believe you will also see missions giving increase… which brings me to the 7th goal.

7. Give away an offering

I saved this goal for last, but it’s definitely not least. If you made me pick just one goal from this list for your church, I would pick this one, “Give away an offering.” I know what you’re thinking, “That would be great, but we can’t afford to do that.” I get it. The struggle is real, but don’t we preach every week to our people that we can’t out give God? Don’t we teach that sacrificial giving unlocks God’s best blessings? Do you really believe that?

If you asked me what one thing has made the biggest difference in our church over the last 10 years I would say giving away money, and it’s not even close. We call it “Imagine,” and over those 10 years we’ve given away $500,000 (our goal is $10 million lifetime), but it didn’t start like that—it started with small projects and offerings of a few hundred dollars.

As you begin to practice generosity as a church organization, you will experience the momentum and excitement that only generosity can bring. Tell the people what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. If your heart is where your treasure is then you need to spread some treasure to other churches or mission projects.

I wrote a blog about how my church gave $1000 to a megachurch in our town. You can read it here. If it’s just absolutely impossible to give away an offering, start by giving away some of the offerings. Tell the church what you’re giving too and celebrate it BIG! What get’s celebrated gets duplicated. You’re probably underestimating how much your people will LOVE this idea, especially millennials.

Church Growth

6 Things First-Time Guests Notice But Pastors Overlook

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The term “curse of knowledge” was coined in a 1989 Journal of Political Economy article by economists Colin Camerer, George Loewenstein, and Martin Weber. It’s is a cognitive bias that occurs when an individual, communicating with other individuals, unknowingly assumes that the others have the background to understand. Simply put, the curse of knowledge is what causes you to forget what it’s like to not know what you know.

Once you know 2+2 = 4 you can never not know. The same is true for teachers who have mastered a subject but are unable to understand the struggle of a new student. Or a long-time employee who knows how to complete her job without a manual but struggles to explain the procedure to a new employee.

In a 1990 experiment by a Stanford University, a group of subjects were asked to “hum” well-known songs, while another group tried to name the melodies. When the “hummers” were asked to predict how many of the songs would be recognized by listeners, they would always overestimate. The “hummers” were so familiar with what they were humming that they assumed listeners would easily recognize the tune, but they rarely did.

That’s the problem with the curse of knowledge, familiarity causes you to assume something is obvious while other people are oblivious. Specifically, in terms of leadership, the COK lulls you to sleep, and what was once new or effective or obvious, blends into the background of your responsibilities.

For a church leader, it is a dangerous problem, since we are trying to reach new people with the message of the Gospel. We’ve walked through the doors of our church 300 times, but they haven’t. We’ve sung the worship songs 50 times, but they haven’t. We’ve pulled into the parking lot 1000 times… you get the point. The guests who visit your church don’t know what you know, so you shouldn’t assume their experience is the same as your experience.

How can you protect yourself against the curse of knowledge? It’s not easy. It requires intentionality and enough humility to admit that your way may no longer be the most effective way, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. With the help of the Holy Spirit and the feedback of fresh eyes, you can work towards being sure that guests have a great experience, even if they don’t know everything you know.

Let me give you 6 things first-time guests notice that pastors often overlook:

1. The Parking Lot

In most cases, the pastor or pastoral staff arrive at the church very early, much earlier than the regular attendees and guests. That means you’ve probably never experienced what it feels like to park 3 minutes before service starts, or what the environment feels like when you step out of your car.

When it comes to your parking lot, don’t just think about parking space, think about the kind of first impression you want to make. The parking lot is the first experience a guest has with your church. Is there anyone to meet them? Is there any music playing to create a mood? Does it look organized or clean? If they had to decide whether or not they will like the church based on the parking lot, what do you think they would say?

A couple who are now leaders in my church told me about the first Sunday they visited. They sat in their car for 15 minutes deciding if they wanted to come in the building or not. They were people-watching to see if this was the “kind” of church they thought they might like.

After hearing their story, our church decided to make the parking lot a priority. We have plenty of places to park cars, but we wanted to make sure when someone pulled in we sent the message, “We’re glad you’re here, and you’re going to be glad you’re here.”

  • We placed 2-3 parking lot volunteers outside. We call them pastors of the pavement. (We made them wear the bright orange vests, even though they didn’t want to because it looks professional)
  • We installed a speaker loud enough to be heard throughout the entire parking lot and play upbeat, fun music throughout the entire day.
  • We started parking cars on the front grass (when the weather is good) even though we have room in the back because it looks like more people are there (most people want to be a part of the crowd)

It doesn’t take a lot of money; it just requires a lot of intentionality, but a great parking lot experience can be the first step in opening someone’s heart to the message.

Bonus tip: First-time guests often arrive earlier than regular attendees (they don’t know everyone shows up late ????) so be sure to have parking lot volunteers in place as early as possible. There’s nothing worse than showing up to church 20 minutes early and feeling like you’re all alone.

2. Property Cleanliness/Upkeep

Similar to the parking lot experience, the outer appearance of your church sends a strong message to first-time guests. Whether it’s fare or not, if your property looks like no one cares about it, the assumption by a guest is that no one will care about them. It probably wouldn’t take a lot of money to make significant improvements, a fresh coat of paint or new plant can go a long way.

I wrote more about how the appearance of your property has the potential to reach the thousands of cars which drive by every day in this post but it’s worth considering the following questions when it comes to the appearance of your property:

  • Are their weeds that need to pulled?
  • Is the grass cut each week? (preferably on a day close to Sunday)
  • Is the parking lot well-lit at night (this solution is more expensive but has the potential for you to stand out in the evening)
  • Would a colorful banner help convey the personality of the church?
  • Does the outside of the building need to be pressure washed or painted?
  • Does any trash need to be picked up?
  • Could fresh flowers give the property a new look?

Because we see the church property almost every day, we become familiar with things that are out of place or unclean, but you only get one chance to make a first impression.

Bonus Tip: Set a recurring date on the church calendar each year to have a church clean-up day around the start of springtime. I’m willing to bet one good Saturday would make a big difference.

3. Building Signage

Have you ever been to a new restaurant and not been able to find the bathroom? Or has a store recently changed the aisles and now you can’t find things in their usual place? It’s really frustrating, isn’t it? That’s how first time guests feel when they can’t find their way around the building.

I know it seems obvious to you, but that’s because you know every nook and cranny of your property and have keys to all the classrooms. How would someone who has never stepped foot in your building know where to check-in their children, or find the restroom?

I stubbornly fought the need for signage for years. Our church is an older A-frame building with a Sunday School square, so I just assumed everyone knew where they were going, I mean there’s only left turns! I was wrong. If someone feels lost, they are apprehensive. They don’t want to have to ask where to go, and neither do you.

At a minimum, you should have visible, clear signage that directs people to the bathroom, kid’s classrooms, and the sanctuary. If you don’t know how to create a sign or have the ability to do so, call your local print shop, and they will be able to help you easily.

At our church, we decided to take this a step further a few months ago to help people find our “next steps” class. The class is towards the back of the building, and for years, from the stage, we would say, “just exit the sanctuary and take a left, you will see the room on the right.” It seemed easy enough to me, but I’ve been at my church for 15 years. Now we have a volunteer stand the lobby following each service with a sign that says, “Follow me to Launch” and they walk with each participant to the classroom (it also allows them a chance to get their name and “hand them off” to the class leader with a personal introduction.)

Bonus Tip: The best signs in your church are your volunteers. We stress to our team, “Don’t point. Walk with.” In the event someone still needs directional help, it’s an excellent opportunity for a volunteer to strike up a conversation and connect while they walk with someone to their destination.

4. Kid’s Safety

There are many ways to get guests to return to your church for a second visit, but let me give you one way to be confident they won’t: A parent believes their child was not cared for.

Nothing is more important to a parent who visits your church than the way their child is treated, and if that parent believes in any way their child is not safe, it doesn’t matter how great your sermon, facility, or worship is, they’re not coming back. The opposite is also true, though. If a child tells their parent about a great experience, it doesn’t matter how good the sermon, facility, or worship, they will be back.

The quality of the children’s ministry can be a challenge when resources and volunteers are limited, but the good news is it doesn’t take state of the art technology to convince a parent their child is cared for. A first-time guest parent wants to know 3 things when they visit: It is safe? Is it fun? Is it clean? And all three of those things can be accomplished at any size on any budget.

Here are a few ideas to help you provide a safer and cleaner children’s ministry:

  • Require kid’s check-in and check-out
  • Ask the parent for any vital information (allergies, medication, etc.) when the child is dropped off the first time
  • Position a cop or volunteer security guard at the main entrance to the children’s area
  • Have the children’s leader or pastor follow up with the parent during the week just to encourage the parent.
  • Have volunteers come in during the week and wipe down the toys with Clorox wipes
  • Walk with the first time family to introduce them to their child’s teacher

These are just a few examples that put a first-time guest at ease. For better or worse, most pastor’s kids are very comfortable in the church, and most pastors are comfortable with their kids having a lot of freedom in the church. That makes it challenging to see your children’s ministry from a guests point of view. The whole time they are sitting in your service, they are thinking about their child. Are they ok? Are they having fun? Do I need to go check on them?

If you’re past the age of having small children, or you’re unsure about how to make your children’s ministry safe, clean, and fun, ask a few moms to help you create a strategy. It’s too important not to fix.

Bonus Tip: Almost all check-in software will tell you when a child in the database has a birthday. We have trained our volunteers to celebrate birthdays when the computers notify them upon check-in, and they get a postcard in the mail the week of their birthday. It doesn’t take as much work as you might think.

5. Insider Language

Of all the things we do at church to isolate guests, none is probably more prevalent than insider language. It’s hard to catch because it comes so natural to us. We assume everyone knows what we mean, but they don’t.

I’m not just talking about “Christenese” phrases or worship metaphors, even though the point could be made, I’m talking more about insider language that assumes everyone knows everything in the church. See if any of these phrases sound familiar:

  • “Just stop by the office before you leave”
  • “The meeting will be at the Wilson’s house Wednesday night, let them know if you can make it.”
  • “Pick up the papers off the table in the foyer”

Insider language unintentionally sends the message, if you don’t know what we’re talking about it, you can’t participate. No pastor wants to convey that message, but often time we fail to plan our announcements and “filler” talk, and we revert to what’s comfortable and familiar… to us. (raise your hand if you even prayed a bunch of extra times in service because you didn’t know how to transition ????‍♂️)

Here are a few suggestions to help you guard against using insider language:

  • Make sure every place has a name and a sign, that way everyone who touches a microphone knows what to call it (is it a foyer or a lobby? A sanctuary or an auditorium? etc.)
  • Write out announcements ahead of time. It can feel unnecessary, but when preachers start winging it we get long winded and less clear.
  • Introduce yourself every week as the pastor
  • Use an “official” sign up/registration method for all your events and activities. It may feel like overkill, but it makes it accessible to everyone

Bonus Tip: Nothing will help you identify insider language like personally inviting an unchurched friend to church with you. If it’s been a while since someone came to a church based on your invitation, begin praying for God to open your heart and some doors to connect with people who need Jesus.

6. Friendliness (clicks)

If I asked you whether or not your church was friendly, I’m almost certain you would say, “yes!” If nothing else, you’re friendly, and you try to connect with new people, so that counts for something, right?

The curse knowledge probably affects the area of relationships more than any other because when you are connected, you assume, it’s easy for everyone to connect, but it’s not. When a first-time guest walks through the doors of your church, they notice everyone who doesn’t talk to them, AND they notice who everyone is talking to.

This Sunday, minutes before the service begins, go into the sound booth or somewhere where you can see the whole sanctuary and look at where pockets of people form. I think you’ll find a few people gathered together enjoying conversation, but with their backs turned to the rest of the congregation. You’ll probably also find guests sitting by themselves not talking to anyone. No one does it on purpose, but over time, natural groups form and people end up ignoring those they don’t know.

Unfortunately, the church doesn’t have a reputation of being the friendliest place to visit, but the good news is that means the bar of expectation is set low, and any effort to be kind and welcoming goes a long way. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Schedule “talkers” whose job is to walk around the sanctuary before service and talk to anyone who looks new. Often we schedule volunteers to greet outside of the sanctuary so once a guest gets to their seat no one talks to them for the rest of service
  • Add 3 “touches” of contact from the parking lot to the pew. I know some people say too much greeting is annoying, but err on the side of too much hospitality and kindness.
  • Send a personal handwritten postcard to every guest who feels out a connect card.

Bonus Tip: Give guests something to signify they are a guest. Everyone else doesn’t have to know, but the key staff and volunteers will know so they can identify who the guests are. Our church gives the gift for a first-time gift in a blue bag, so anytime we see someone carrying a blue bag, we know it’s their first time.

It can be intimidating and exhausting to try and think of all the ways to create an exceptional guest experience, but it’s essential to try to see things from their perspective, and over time that gets harder and harder to do.

Church Growth

7 Reasons Why Your Church Should Add A 2nd Service

I’m just old enough to remember a day when having multiple services was not a popular idea in the church. Only out of necessity was a church willing to add a second service, while they figured out a plan to enlarge their facility. In the past, the popular strategy was to build a big enough building to have 1 service in 1 location, and as the church grew the buildings got bigger and bigger… and more expensive.

While there is no shortage of large church buildings, the general consensus now seems to be offering more, smaller services in more locations, and I’m a fan of that idea. A BIG fan. Currently, we have 4 services and are trying to add a 5th at our second location as soon as possible.

The more services you add, the better you get at the logistical challenges, but the emotional challenges of adding a service never really get easier. You’re always nervous about losing momentum, having enough volunteers, or preaching to an empty room. If you can ever gather the courage to take the leap, though, I believe adding a second service can be an effective strategy to move your church forward and give you momentum.

Let me give you 7 reasons why you should consider adding a 2nd service:

1. You Can Offer an “Attend 1 Serve 1 Opportunity”

When you prepare to launch a second service, there’s no doubt you will need to grow your volunteer base, but you might be surprised to find that more people are willing to volunteer if they have the option to attend service as well. With only 1 service, if someone serves in a kid’s class, they cannot participate in service. Their day is strictly an act of service. And in most cases those volunteers are serving more than once per month, so multiple times each month they are having to miss corporate worship.

Once you’re able to promote an “Attend 1 Serve 1” opportunity, more people will be open to the idea of serving. Don’t misunderstand. I’m not suggesting people will be lining up outside your office to serve, but I am suggesting that wanting to experience the worship service is one of the biggest deterrents for people wanting to serve.

So ironically, adding a service has the chance to grow your volunteer base, and increase volunteer morale. Go figure.

2. You’re Forced To Empower More People

Similarly to the “Attend 1 Serve 1 opportunity,” adding a second service forces the church leadership to empower more people. I know what you’re thinking. “ I would love to empower more people. I don’t need a second service to do that.” But actually, you do. Let me explain.

Certain people will not offer to serve unless they know they’re needed. Even if you’ve told them they’re needed, they’re paying attention and waiting until you HAVE to have to them. Before you’re too quick to complain about it, you’re probably the same way with your kid’s ball teams, school parties, or anything else outside of church that asks for your help. Most people are willing to get involved if they feel it is absolutely necessary, and by adding a second service you can say to them, “We’re adding a 2nd service, and we need you to help us.”

To be clear, I’m not saying you need to launch a new service simply so you can find more volunteers, I’m suggesting that when you do add a service, the necessity of volunteers will force you to be a more empowering leader.

Bonus Tip: Know your numbers before you start asking people to step up. Tell them, “we currently have 17 volunteers but to successfully launch a second service we need 30. Will you be 1 of the 30?”

3. You’re Forced To Develop Systems Not Dependent On One Person

Most small churches (define that however you want) are incredibly dependent on a handful of extremely talented and dependable people. In a congregation of 50-75 people, there are usually 2-3 people who carry the bulk of the responsibility. Thank God you have them, but the downside is that you are incredibly dependent on a few people.

By adding a second service, you are forced to begin to think in terms of systems instead of personalities. While technically it’s possible for those same people to double their responsibility, eventually, with more services you will have to develop a repetitive system out of necessity. The vast majority of churches are personality based not system based. The areas of ministry are effective as long as a particular person is in charge of them, but it rises and falls on the shoulders of one person. The more your church begins to multiply the more your leaders can’t be everywhere at once and must create repeatable systems that a trained volunteer can execute.

Bonus Tip: The book “E-myth revisited by Michaell Gerber” in an incredibly helpful book that will help you get your ministry teams and church structurally organized. It’s required reading for every new staff member at our church.

4. You Prioritize Progress Over Convenience

Adding an additional service is not merely a matter of solving logistical problems, it’s also an opportunity to cast vision and identify people who are unwilling to be inconvenienced for the sake of progress. You would think everyone in your church would want to grow and reach more people with the gospel, but unfortunately, not everyone does. It’s not always easy to know who is on board and who isn’t as long as no one is asked to sacrifice, but sacrifice is always the best indicator of commitment, and make no mistake, adding a service requires sacrifice.

There is no scenario where the church grows, and the leaders are not inconvenienced. You need to know that. Sometimes it’s easy to believe that progress will make things easier, but it doesn’t. Progress make things more complicated. The more children my wife and I had the less selfish I had to be. The same is true for the leaders in your church.

I’m not suggesting that every person who doesn’t love the idea of a second service is against you, they may just need to hear more vision communicated, but you might be surprised once you start courageously casting vision and moving forward who is excited and who is not.

5. It Challenges The “Small Church” Mindset Of “I Know Everybody”

The truth is, if you’re church has more than 100 attendees, then the people don’t know everybody, but they feel like they do. And for the record, there’s nothing wrong with that, until the preference of familiarity trumps the progress of the church.

Once you add a second service, it’s impossible for everyone in your church to recognize every face. Moving forward though, every new attendee who starts attending after you add a second service does not have the expectation of getting to know everyone, and that’s a great thing because now you have a chance to promote the need for small groups.

Many churches I know, including my own, have experienced increased small group participation as the number of services increase. It makes sense. In a 1 service church with a “small church” mindset, it’s the pastor’s job to connect me, but in a multi-service church, people assume it’s their responsibility to get connected. A second service eliminates the expectation that everyone needs to connect with everyone, and instead creates an expectation that everyone needs to connect with someone.

6. It Provides Options And People Like Options

The only people who really care if the sanctuary is completely full on a Sunday are preachers and singers. To be honest, most people would prefer it NOT be full. You would too if you weren’t a pastor.

Think about the last time you went to a restaurant. What time did you go? Probably when you like to eat dinner, right? Have you ever shown up to eat and found a place closed? It was frustrating, wasn’t it? Or what about the last time you went to the movies. Did they have multiple showings or just 1? I personally love to attend empty theaters for an afternoon movie by myself, but my wife likes the excitement and buzz of opening night.

When you only offer 1 service time, you are excluding everyone who can’t attend at that time. There are moms currently attending who think your service is too early for their family and other moms who think your service is too late for their family. I’m not suggesting we poll people and give them exactly what they want. The movie theater doesn’t ask you what time you want, they simply offer times, and you choose what works best for you, but there’s no denying people like options, and a church with options is appealing.

7. You Present The Perception Of A Growing Church

This is the least important benefit, but it is important. There are people in your community who are paying attention to your church trying to decide if they want to visit. They drive by the church each day going into work, or follow your facebook page, or talk to a friend who attends. When you become a multi-service church, you send the message that you are a growing church, or at least you are a church that is moving forward. Adding an additional service promotes progress. I’m not advocating adding an unnecessary service to give the impression you’re growing, but I am suggesting that as things trend upward adding a service helps validate the trends.

Church Growth

5 Habits To Lead Healthy in 2019

Happy New Year. I love the rush of setting new goals and starting fresh, and I hope 2019 is your best year of leadership yet.

I was reading 1 Kings 19 last week, you know the story, Elijah defeats the prophets of Baal, and Jezebel threatens to kill him. As I read it, I thought about being a healthier leader in 2019. I can’t promise your ministry will grow this year, but I can promise that you can grow. The best thing you can do for your family and church is lead with a healthy heart. The results will take care of themselves. I talk more about focusing on health instead of results in Toxic Soul: A Pastor’s Guide To Leading Without Losing Heart.

In 1 Kings 19, Elijah was freaking out, burnt out, depressed and anxious, and God uses 5 things to get him healthy. I believe these 5 things are the same things you and I need in 2019 to lead healthy. Let me give them to you.

If you would rather listen to this on the podcast than read it, click here.

1. Sleep/Rest

“Then he lay down and slept under the broom tree…” (v. 5)

It doesn’t sound spiritual, but the first thing God used to get Elijah healthy wasn’t a sermon, a book, a conference or an altar call, it was a nap. I can almost guarantee you need more sleep more than you need more meetings, sermon prep, bible study, or church services. Sleep more in 2019.

2. Good Food

“But as he was sleeping, an angel touched him and told him, “Get up and eat!” (v. 5)

Good food is relative, but specifically I mean food that is nourishing. What you put in your body affects how you feel, think, and act. The food Elijah ate gave him the strength to travel 40 days. Is the food you’re eating giving you strength or making you more tired? You carry spiritual weight better with less physical weight… that’s a fact.

3. More Sleep/Rest

“So he ate and drank and lay down again.” (v. 6)

Sleeping is so essential to our health that God gave Elijah back to back naps. Are you getting the point yet? Research shows that people who get at least 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep are twice as likely to solve puzzles and problems as those who don’t. Our brains actually create new neural connections while we sleep. Go figure!

4. Experiences with God

“And after the fire, there was the sound of a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And a voice said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (v. 12-13)

If all you do is rest and eat more healthy, you will feel better, but that’s not enough to be a healthy spiritual leader. Spiritual leaders need fresh spiritual experiences; times where you hear the gentle whisper of God’s voice. Truthfully you probably don’t need more revival services, conferences, earthquakes, winds and fires, you need to hear God’s voice.

5. Friendship

“So Elijah went and found Elisha son of Shaphat plowing a field.” (v. 19)

Elisha told God he was done, but God told Elijah he wasn’t done until he invested in the next generation of leadership. Elisha gave Elijah a second wind. Friendship is a must in ministry. Find people who give you a second wind, make you laugh, encourage you, and cheer you on.

These are the 5 things God did for Elijah to get him healthy, and I believe these same 5 habits will help us lead healthy in 2019: Rest, Good Food, More Rest, Experiences with God, and Friendship.

Church Growth

5 Signs of Church Health That Matter More Than The Quality of Your Sunday Service (and Facility)

When I started pastoring a decade ago, church health wasn’t really on my mind. I was convinced the ingredients required to grow a church were simple: good music and good preaching. I grew up in a preacher’s home, and my background/skill set is in production-related areas, so I was determined to lead a church with the best artwork, lights, sound, talent, and sermons. I just knew if we were able to master those categories our church would grow into the vision I saw in my head. Relatively speaking we accomplished those things, our talent and presentation far exceeded the norm of a church our size, so I was dumbfounded when our church wasn’t growing, it was actually getting smaller, huh?

I still care about those things, but 10 years later I’ve learned that nobody else really does, at least not the people in my community we’re trying to reach with the gospel. Other pastors care about them, and church hopping musicians and singers care about them, but “John” and “Sarah” who live in the neighborhood across the street from my church have never heard of Hillsong, Steven Furtick, or Church of the Highlands. They don’t follow the churches Instagram account, and they scroll right past my preaching clips on Facebook. The best thing I can do for all of the people in my community who haven’t shown up yet, is focus on church health.

Is a spirit of excellence important, you better believe it, but is high caliber worship/preaching/ and facilities the key to churches under 500 in attendance breaking through a growth barrier, no. As churches grow, and guest expectations change, there’s an argument to be made that production quality must increase, but that’s a different conversation for a different time, this blog is about the characteristics of church health that are more important for the long-term health of your church than the quality of the worship, preaching, and your facility.

DISCLAIMER: When I say “things that matter more than worship and preaching” I don’t mean in the spiritual sense. Of course, nothing is more important than the presentation of the gospel. A church without worship and Bible teaching are doomed to fail. I’m talking about worship and preaching strategically.

Let me give you 5 signs of church health that matter to the long-term growth and health of your church more than the quality of the preaching, worship, and facility:

1. The Pastor’s Friends

I don’t know who said it first, but someone famous said, “Show me your 5 closest friends and I’ll show you your future.” As pastors, we preach this principle to our congregation all the time, but it’s also true for our lives. As I look back on the seasons of growth and progress in my ministry, every single time, those growth seasons corresponded with a new relationship God brought into my life. Jesus said, “you can’t put new wine into old wineskins.” I’m not saying you shouldn’t have lifelong friends, as a matter of fact, I believe lifelong friends are incredibly beneficial for your life and ministry, they provide stability when ministry is emotionally unstable. But I am challenging you to assess if you are surrounding yourself with other pastors who are trying to accomplish a similar dream God has put in your heart. As you assess your current circle of pastor friends are they cynical and jaded. Are they negative, gossiping, or rebellious? Do they encourage you? Are they dreaming new dreams? Are you speaking the same language? In my experience, when you find a pastor of a growing, healthy church, you will find a pastor who is connected to a circle of other pastors of growing, healthy churches.

[clickToTweet tweet=”PASTOR: When you find a pastor of a growing, healthy church you will find a pastor who is connected to a circle of other pastors of growing, healthy churches. @jasonisaacs” quote=”When you find a pastor of a growing, healthy church you will find a pastor who is connected to a circle of other pastors of growing, healthy churches.”]

2. Volunteer Morale

I know you know this, but I’m going to say it anyway, you can’t pastor your church by yourself; it takes a team. Moses, in Exodus 18, learned this lesson from his father in law Jethro, and it’s timeless principle that still applies today. The more leaders you recruit, train, and empower, the more people you will be able to reach with the gospel. Can you imagine the exponential growth your church could experience if you had volunteer depth? If you had volunteers and leaders in reserve? That’s never going to happen if your current volunteers don’t’ feel encouraged, equipped, and empowered. If the people on the front lines aren’t excited about what God is doing in your church, it’s going to be hard to get the congregation excited. When volunteer morale is low, you end up replacing people because new passion give a jolt to the process, but eventually you have an endless cycle of new volunteers that never go the distance. At some point, you have to figure out how to have sustained passion, and the best way to sustain passion is by keeping morale up through appreciation, encouragement, and vision. In my experience when you find a growing church with momentum, you find a church with high volunteer morale and people who have been serving over an extended time in the church.

3. Unity

This is a no-brainer, the more unified your church, the more progress you will make, but I’m not just talking about the kind of unity where everyone is on the “same page.” That is a form of unity, but I’m talking about a deeper level of unity based on trust. A unified church embraces the mindset, “I may not agree with you, but I trust you.” Specifically in areas of vision or new ideas, “I may not agree with you, but I trust you are making best, most prayerful decision you can make.”

I’m always surprised at how many pastors I talk to who are trying to plow ahead with vision even though they haven’t been able to get the congregation or leaders to buy in, especially a pastor who just arrived at a new church. A lack of unity will kill any vision or momentum you have because, by definition, division means two visions. It doesn’t matter how high the quality of the worship, preaching, or facility if you have factions of your church who don’t trust each other or trust the pastor you will not be able to reach your God-given potential. In my experience, unity requires time, prayer, patience, and subtraction (people leaving the church.) When you find a growing church with momentum, you find a church completely unified on their purpose and style. There will always be people on the fringes trying to decide if they want to commit, but the more you grow the unified core, the more the church will grow.

[clickToTweet tweet=”It doesn’t matter how high the quality of the worship, preaching, or facility is. If you have factions of your church who don’t trust each other or trust the pastor you will not be able to reach your God-given potential. @jasonisaacs” quote=”PASTOR: It doesn’t matter how high the quality of the worship, preaching, or facility is. If you have factions of your church who don’t trust each other or trust the pastor you will not be able to reach your God-given potential. “]

4. The Pastor’s Council/Leadership Team

Every church does it a little differently, but you probably have some type of leadership structure at your church. Whether it’s a council, elders, or deacons, the leadership structure has the potential to bring your church to a standstill or push you forward with momentum. My friend Kyle wrote a great post about the importance of having optimistic people around the pastor, in this post.

Nothing kills the dreams in a pastors heart than a leadership team who views their role as “protector of the past” or “guardian of the current.” I’m not suggesting “yes men” who blindly agree to any dangerous idea, but I am suggesting a posture of support instead of suspicion. Brian Houston says it best about his team, “I don’t need you to support my vision, I need my vision to be your vision. In my experience, when I meet a pastor or visit a church that is experiencing momentum, life change, and growth, the leadership team is almost always filled with God loving, passionate, optimistic people.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Nothing kills the dreams in a pastors heart than a leadership team who views their role as “protector of the past” or “guardian of the current.” @jasonisaacs” quote=”Nothing kills the dreams in a pastors heart than a leadership team who views their role as “protector of the past” or “guardian of the current.””]

5. Giving Units

This is the least “sexy” factor on the list, but it may be the most important because it speaks to all the others. It takes money to do ministry, that’s a fact, and giving speaks to church health; unity, buy-in, morale, and discipleship. There are different metrics you can use to define what healthy giving looks like in your church, but you better have people who are being discipled and believe in the vision of the church enough to prioritize tithing and giving. If not, the future of your church will solely depend on hope many people show up from another church where another pastor taught them to give.

This can be a touchy subject because we want to give people time to grow. We don’t want to be pushy, and we don’t want to offend anyone, but at the end of the day, if a large majority of your church isn’t tithing, you don’t have a tithing problem you have a vision/discipleship problem. The only way to fix it is to be a courageous leader who leads by example and has hard conversations. Jesus said, “where your treasure is where your heart will be” which means if the people who attend your church don’t give any of their treasure to the church there heart is not with the church. That stings, I understand, but it’s true. I wrote a lot more about creating a generous culture in your church in this post.

[clickToTweet tweet=”PASTOR: If you refuse to teach on giving, your plan for increased giving is people coming to your church from another church where the pastor taught them to give. That’s a terrible plan! @jasonisaacs” quote=”PASTOR: If you refuse to teach on giving, your plan for increased giving is people coming to your church from another church where the pastor taught them to give. That’s a terrible plan!”]

Church Growth

4 Things Every Pastor Needs From Their Team

This is a blog for staff pastors and church leaders who don’t serve in the senior pastor role. Whether you’re a student pastor, small group pastor, worship pastor, campus pastor, or a staff member of another type; you love your pastor, and you love your church. The struggle is sometimes you feel confused about what your pastor needs from you.

Let’s be honest, sometimes Lead Pastors aren’t always clear about their expectations and needs for their team. So what do you do? How can you help? A great staff member understands their pastor carries the weight of the whole church on their shoulders, and they want to help lighten the load because they know that when the senior leader is at their best the church and team are typically at their best too.

[clickToTweet tweet=”A great staff member understands that when the Senior Leader is at their best the church and team are typically at their best too. @excellentpastor” quote=”A great staff member understands that when the Senior Leader is at their best, the church and team are typically at their best too.”]

If you have a heart to serve your senior leader but you spend more time hoping you’re helping than knowing you’re helping, here are four things that you can do THIS WEEK to support your lead pastor.

1. Do Your Job

I could add to this the statement “without having to be asked to.” Hopefully when you were hired for your job you were given a job description that clearly described the specific expectations. If so, when was the last time you looked at it and evaluated how you’re doing? A Lead Pastor can’t lead like a lead pastor if they have to act like a staff pastor. They can’t do their job if they have to do yours too.

If you are paid even a small salary, remember that one of the reasons people at your church give their hard earned money is so you can be compensated for your work. Work hard. Your lead pastor, and the ministry you oversee needs you to do your job. If you want to take some weight off of your lead pastor, show up, look at your job description, and do it.

If you are a staff pastor and you are unclear about the expectations, sit down and have that conversation with your pastor. Specifically ask the question, “What does it look like if I’m doing a good job?” or “How do I know if I’m doing a good job?” I promise your pastor would rather have a 15-minute discussion to clear up the specifics of your role than constantly being frustrated at you for not doing what they assume you know you are supposed to do. You can read more about having important conversations in this post.

2. Pastor People

Be honest. Have you ever received a text or call from your lead pastor on the weekend asking you to spend your time off visiting someone in the hospital? What was your first thought? How did you feel? It’s ok to feel frustrated for a moment, but we have to remember our first and most important job is to serve our pastor. One of the best ways you can serve your senior pastor is by representing them well in times they can’t or shouldn’t show up.

I’ve probably heard my pastor say it 100+ times, “you’re first calling is to pastor people.” Yes, systems are essential. Spend time programming for kids or outings for students. Pick the worship setlist for Sunday and schedule volunteers. Have meetings and get your teams organized, but first and foremost you are in the people business. One of the best things you can do for your pastor is to always be pastoring people.

[clickToTweet tweet=”‘One of the best ways you can serve your senior pastor is by representing them well in times they can’t or shouldn’t show up.’ @excellentpastor” quote=”‘One of the best ways you can serve your senior pastor is by representing them well in times they can’t or shouldn’t show up.'”]

3. Love Their Family

Your lead pastor worries about his family. They want to protect their spouse from unreasonable expectations and cruel comments. They want their kids to love the church. They constantly worry they are spending too much time at the office, or missing important moments in an attempt to lead the church. Your pastor loves his family and it means the world to them when you love them too. Support them, protect them, and pray for them. Nothing shows you love your pastor more than the way you love their family.

4. Ask Them What They Need From You

Have you ever walked into your lead pastor’s office and asked the question “what can I do to help?” It can be a scary question because I promise your pastor, like mine, has a notebook somewhere with pages and pages of to-do lists that he would love some help with.

I challenge you to go ask them what they need. Ask this question, “What’s something I can take off your plate that is causing a lot of stress right now?” and watch the shock and relief on their face. I’ll warn you, it’s not just the thought that counts. If you ask be ready to deliver. You may touch up paint where the chairs have rubbed the wall. You may make phone calls to people you don’t know. You may scrape gum off the floor. Your pastor sees everything. They are proud of the church God has entrusted to them and the things that cause them the most stress are the little things they haven’t gotten to yet because of other demands.

You may need to push the issue if they’re not used to being offered help, but force the issue and have them tell you something you can do to clear the noise in their head. This is a great book to read with your lead pastor about helping quiet the noise in their head.

No matter your role, do your job with excellence. Never stop pastoring people. Support your lead pastor’s family, and ask them what they need. It’s an honor to be in your position and do what you do. Don’t waste your opportunity. Show up every week and serve God, your church, and your pastor well.

Church Growth

4 Reasons Church Attendance Goes Up But Always Comes Down

Let’s be clear at the beginning, you can’t grow your church. Well, I guess technically you could scheme your way to increased attendance numbers, but what I mean when I say, “grow your church” is much more than raising your headcount. When I say, “grow your church,” I mean growing people, growing leaders, growing groups, growing engagement, and yes in the process increasing attendance.

The challenge for any pastor or leader in their attempt to grow, is that with new growth comes new challenges. We believe the myth that a bigger church would be an easier church to pastor, but that’s not true. Every level of growth requires a new level of organization, leadership, structure, and systems. A big church is not just a larger version of a small church; it is an entirely different thing all together. What got you to where you are will not get you to where you want to go, and what gets you where you want to go will not get you to the next place you need to go. Each new level of growth requires new levels of leadership.

Go back and read that last paragraph again.

[clickToTweet tweet=”PASTOR: A big church is not just a larger version of a small church, they are entirely different. What got you to where you are will not get you to where you want to go. New levels require new leadership. @jasoinsaacs” quote=”PASTOR: A big church is not just a larger version of a small church, they are entirely different. What got you to where you are will not get you to where you want to go. New levels requires new leadership.”]

This new leadership, required at new levels I outlined before, is why most churches don’t sustain the spurts of growth they experience. I know based on your Facebook timeline and Instagram feed it feels like every church is exploding with growth, but it’s not. The stats tell us 65% of churches have plateaued or are in decline.

Typically what happens, and I speak from multiple experiences, is churches experience a growth spurt, but within a few weeks, months, or years, eventually the church returns to the place it has historically averaged; that is, if it doesn’t decline even lower than before. Why? Why does this cycle of grow-recede-grow-recede, happen time and time again? The answer is simple, but it isn’t easy. Why do churches not sustain their growth and cycle up and down in attendance year after year?????? Because growth requires change.

Remember that thought, because we’re going to come back to it in a moment. First, I want to show you something that changed my life and leadership.

7 years ago, Matt Keller introduced me to the idea of the S-Curve. You’ve probably seen it before in business or back in high school, but an S-curve shows the growth of a variable in terms of another variable, often expressed as units of time. In pastor terms, an S-Curve shows your churches attendance over time. I’ve provided an example for you to see…

The reason the s-curve is essential for a pastor and the life of a church is that we tend to believe that church growth looks like this….

but it doesn’t. That’s how it looks for .0001 of pastors and churches, but if you’re blessed enough to lead a growing church, church growth looks like an S-Curve: you grow, then you decline a little, then you regroup, and you grow some more, then you decline a little, then you regroup, and you grow some more. If everything works like it’s supposed to, your growth exceeds your decline, and over time your church is larger because the seasons of growth exceed the seasons of decline. Make sense?

I don’t want to belabor this point, but I think it’s critical you grasp this. The S-curve means that, if you have a church of 50 people, in order to be a church of 100 people you don’t need 50 more people, you probably need 100+ more people so 50 will connect with your church. If you pastor 200 people and want to break the 300 barrier, you don’t need 100 more people, you probably need 150-200 more people because not everyone will stick, and you will lose people who don’t want to be a part of a growing church (crazy that these people exist, I know, but it’s real.)

We know this intuitively, but when we get inspired or filled with faith about church growth, we get discouraged when growth doesn’t look or feel like chart 2. If it makes you feel any better, check out this revenue vs. profit chart from Amazon since 1998.

Amazon revenue vs. profit
Amazon revenue vs. profit

So when it’s done right, your growth outpaces your decline, and over time your church is larger because, not only have you raised the ceiling, but you’ve raised the floor. Sadly, for many churches though, instead of an S-Curve progressing up and to the right over time, you endlessly cycle back and forth between being “up a little” and then “back down” and then “up a little” and then “back down.” Let’s call this process the “loop of doom.” It’s when your church keeps repeating the same cycle of growth and decline season after season.

This was our church’s story for years. I’m willing to bet it’s yours too. We would grow from 225 up to 275-280 only to slide back down to 225 over and over again. Why? Why could we not grow beyond our loop of doom? Because growth requires change, which brings me back to my original point.

Everything I’m describing to you is a very real struggle for pastors and churches all over America, and to break the cycle, it will require you to do something different than you’ve always done. To put it plainly, a pastor of a church of 150 is not the same “kind” of pastor as a church of 50. A pastor of a church of 300 is not the same “kind” of pastor as a church of 1000. Not better or worse, just different.

The Bible provides a beautiful example of this in Acts. The church was growing, and new believers were being added daily, but all of the growth could have been halted if the disciples hadn’t made a critical leadership decision. Let me show you.

Acts 4:32
All the believers were united in heart and mind. And they felt that what they owned was not their own, so they shared everything they had.

Acts 4 describes the picture perfect image of a thriving church. There was unity, power, and generosity. Every pastor dreams of pastoring a church like this. But look at the beginning of chapter 6.

Acts 6:1
But as the believers rapidly multiplied, there were rumblings of discontent.

This is what always happens, just so you know; more people means more problems. Every blessing has a burden.

So put yourself in the disciples’ shoes. Things are growing, giving is up, attendance is up, momentum is on their side when all of a sudden there are rumblings of discontent. Their problem was that widows weren’t getting fed, but that’s not your problem. Your discontent sounds more like:

  • “I just feel like since the church has grown, I don’t really know everybody like I used to. It used to feel more like a family.”
  • “Ever since the church started growing I can’t get a hold of the pastor like I used to. I feel like all he cares about is growing.”
  • “My family has been a part of this church for a long time, and now all these new people are changing things.
  • “Why are we starting another service? We still have seats open in this service.”
  • “Why are you asking the volunteers to get here early? Don’t you know how hard it is to get my family ready? We’ve never had to get here early in the past.”

I could keep going, because “rumblings of discontent” are like a second language in the church, but just know that everyone won’t be as excited about growth as you are. For them, growth means inconvenience. Whether they will admit it or not, they want things to stay the same, and the first chance they have to go back to “the way it was” they will take it. What’s keeping your church from growing is not a lack of opportunity, it’s a lack of change.

[clickToTweet tweet=”PASTOR: What’s keeping your church from growing is not a lack of opportunity, it’s a lack of change. @jasonisaacs” quote=”PASTOR: What’s keeping your church from growing is not a lack of opportunity, it’s a lack of change.”]

If you put the two verses together, you can see the loop of doom in real time…

Acts 4:32 & Acts 6:1
All the believers were united in heart and mind… but as the believers rapidly multiplied, there were rumblings of discontent.

For so many churches, this pattern, repeats itself over and over again, season after season. Acts chapter 4 was so great, and Acts 6 feels so uncertain, so what did the disciples do?

Acts 6:2-4
So the Twelve called a meeting of all the believers. They said, “We apostles should spend our time teaching the word of God, not running a food program. And so, brothers, select seven men who are well respected and are full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will give them this responsibility. Then we apostles can spend our time in prayer and teaching the word.”

New levels of growth require new levels of leadership, and that’s what the disciples did. That’s usually not what we do though, is it? Our churches get caught in the loop of doom because when we face “rumblings of discontent,” we fight for unity instead of change.

  • We keep the underperforming staff member on the team because they have relatives in the church
  • We refuse to cancel a service only a handful of people attend
  • We over-commit ourself, to prevent being perceived as “not caring.”
  • We prioritize long-time members over new believers

Overcoming the discontentment of growth requires courageous leadership to push beyond the discomfort of change. If we’re not willing to change our leadership, we will continue to go backward in order to recapture peace instead of making progress.

[clickToTweet tweet=”PASTOR: If you’re not willing to change your leadership, you will continue to go backward in order to recapture peace instead of making progress.@jasonisaacs” quote=”PASTOR: If you’re not willing to change your leadership, you will continue to go backward in order to recapture peace instead of making progress.”]

So based on Acts 6:1-7, let me give you 4 potential reasons why your church can’t break out of the loop of doom and attendance keeps cycling up and down over and over again.

1. A Lack of Clarity In Your Calling

“We apostles should spend our time teaching the word of God, not running a food program.”

Contrary to popular belief, great pastors are not great at everything. Great pastors know what they’re great at, and double down on their strengths. I’m not suggesting that you only get to do the things you want to do, but until you are clear on what God has called you to do, you will spend all of your time doing what everyone else wants you to do. Food programs are a good thing, but not if you’re called to do something else.

[clickToTweet tweet=”PASTOR: until you are clear on what God has called you to do, you will spend all of your time doing what everyone else wants you to do.@jasonisaacs” quote=”PASTOR: until you are clear on what God has called you to do, you will spend all of your time doing what everyone else wants you to do.”]

2. An Unwillingness To Delegate Responsibility

“We will give them this responsibility.”

So what do you do after you clarify your calling? You delegate everything else. The disciples didn’t end the program, they delegated responsibility. Sit down and make a list of everything that gets done without you being involved. The larger that list grows, the larger your church will grow. My brother Jeremy wrote this great post about building leaders and delegating responsibility. You can read it here.

[clickToTweet tweet=”PASTOR: Sit down and make a list of everything that gets done without you being involved. The larger that list grows, the larger your church will grow. @jasonisaacs” quote=”PASTOR: Sit down and make a list of everything that gets done without you being involved. The larger that list grows, the larger your church will grow. “]

3. A Lack of Scalable Pastoral Care

“The Greek-speaking believers complained about the Hebrew-speaking believers, saying that their widows were being discriminated against in the daily distribution of food.”

My friend Kyle Jackson wrote this post about scalable pastoral care, so I won’t belabor the point, but just know that your church will not grow beyond the level the people stop feeling cared for. Most of the discontent that occurs during growth seasons is perception not reality. You’re probably still doing a great job caring for people, but as a church grows, you have to overcome the perception that you’re not available to or aware of the needs of the congregation. Which leads me to the last point.

4. A Need to Be Needed

“Then we apostles can spend our time in prayer and teaching the word.”

A pastor who needs to be needed, will never sustain a growing church over a long period of time; you will either burn out or get bitter. Contrary to popular opinion, it takes an unselfish pastor to grow a large church, because in order to grow they have to be willing to let go of things a “small” church pastor refuses to release. The praise or attention of your congregation can be intoxicating, but if you have to always make the visit, preach the sermon, take the meeting, you are the lid to your church. Of course, there are strategic times when the best player takes the big shot. I’m not saying don’t preach on Easter.

I heard Brian Houston say one time, “the most important thing a leader has to learn is when to be in the room and when to not be in the room.” His point was that insecure leaders always feel the need to be in the room, and oblivious leaders miss big moments when their presence is needed. A great leader knows when their absence is more valuable than their presence.

[clickToTweet tweet=”PASTOR: A great leader knows when their absence is more valuable than their presence. @jasonisaacs” quote=”PASTOR: A great leader knows when their absence is more valuable than their presence. “]

So what happened? Did the courageous leadership of the disciples pay off?

Acts 6:7
So God’s message continued to spread. The number of believers greatly increased in Jerusalem, and many of the Jewish priests were converted, too.

Growth requires change, and change can be scary, but if you will make the hard decisions and push through the “rumblings of discontent” you will continue to grow your church and grow your people. Be courageous.

Church Growth Podcast

Episode 22 – How To Create, Communicate, and Protect the Vision For Your Church with Shawn Lovejoy

Click Here to listen and Subscribe on iTunes

Shawn Lovejoy is the Founder & CEO of His heart beats for coaching leaders and helping them conquer whatever’s keeping them up at night. Shawn has been a Real Estate Developer, a Church Planter, a Mega Church Pastor, and a coach.

In this conversation we focus on vision. How does a pastor discover the God given for their church, how do they communicate the vision, and most importantly how do they protect the vision.

Links mentioned in this podcast:

Be Mean About The Vision:
Courage To Lead Coaching:
August Sermon Series Giveaway:

Church Growth Podcast

Episode 19 – Lessons Learned from Planting A Portable Church and Merging an Existing Church with Wesley Weatherford

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Pastor Wesley Weatherford leads Oasis Church at Hephziba in Augusta GA. In this interview we talk about the lessons learned over the last 8 years planting a new church from scratch, being a portable church twice, and merging with an existing church.

Links mentioned in this podcast:

Oasis Church at Hephziba:
In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day:
July Sermon Series Giveaway:

Church Growth Podcast

Episode #17 – Relaunching a Traditional Church, Avoiding Conflict, and Eliminating Excuses with Jerry Lawson

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Jerry Lawson pastors Daystar Church in Cullman Alabama. Any given week several thousand people attend multiple campuses, but it wasn’t always that way. When Jerry arrived at Daystar it was called Glory Hill Church of God and had a handful of people. Over the years Jerry has led the church to relaunch, adapt and grow, and he talks about that process in our interview today.

Links mentioned in this podcast:

June Sermon Series Giveaway: