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You Can’t Believe Everything You Hear About Church Growth - Articles |

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You Can’t Believe Everything You Hear About Church Growth

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Consultant Lyle Schaller busts 9 common myths about expansion and change:

Myth 1: If we build it, they will come. Reality: Adding program staff usually precedes constructing additional facilities.

Myth 2: Don’t make changes in the first year. Reality: The wise pastor takes advantage of the honeymoon period to:

  • (a) earn trust,
  • (b) build alliances with future-oriented leaders, and
  • (c) initiate overdue change.

Myth 3: Friendliness makes visitors return. Reality: Most are asking, “Does this congregation appear to be one that will be relevant and responsive to my religious needs?”

Myth 4: Money precedes ministry. Reality: The three most common causes of low financial support are

  • (a) low level of commitment resulting from low expectations,
  • (b) the absence of a compelling and unifying vision of what God is calling this congregation to be and be about, and
  • (c) inadequate internal communication of the financial needs.

Myth 5: Effective leaders are facilitators. Reality: The enabler style of pastoral leadership is appropriate in congregations that average forty or fewer at worship. The larger the size of the congregation, the more important it is for the pastor to accept and fill the role of initiating leader.

Myth 6: Community growth means church growth. Reality: A more common result is a sharp rise in the level of “competition” among the churches. New congregations are founded. Existing churches upgrade their physical plants or relocate while expanding staff and programming to reach the newcomers.

Myth 7: Economy of scale applies to church. Reality: Economy of scale rarely applies to churches. The very large congregations usually offer higher quality and more choices. That requires more money per person.

Myth 8: Accommodate everyone in one service. Reality: Instead ask, “How can we sharpen the differences among existing services so each reaches and serves a clearly defined constituency?”

Myth 9: Sermons should be shorter. Reality: The number-one context for the length of sermons is the size of the crowd. The larger the crowd and the greater the emphasis on teaching, the longer the sermon.