Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Is your church ready to grow?

Most churches say they want to grow, and I believe them.  I think they are sincere when they say that, but I often wonder if they are prepared to grow.  I sometimes wonder if some of these churches would be ready if growth did begin to occur in their churches.  A church that is growing faces challenges that non-growing churches do not face.  Would your church be prepared to address these challenges?

Finances change in a growing church.  For one thing a growing church has to be more careful about its financial record keeping and budgeting.  I know an older, bivocational church that had been plateaued for many years.  An individual had served as church treasurer for years and had always done an adequate job.  The church started growing.  New members expected an annual receipt for their giving, and the treasurer wasn't equipped to provide that.  He had never tracked the giving of individuals in the church because no one had asked him to until now.  Although the church had a budget it was not well designed, and when it became important to develop a budget that would correctly reflect the planned ministry expenses for the upcoming year, the treasurer could not provide accurate records for the finance committee to know what the church had been spending.  There certainly wasn't anything illegal occurring as this treasurer was an honest man who would not do anything to harm the church.  But, it had never been real important for him to keep real accurate records of all the expenses the church had.  For instance, it was discovered that he would lump the Thanksgiving dinner in with the cost of educational supplies.  The budget never included meal expenses before so it hadn't been important for him to keep those costs separate before.  He soon realized that he was not equipped to continue serving as treasurer and willingly stepped down.

If you are serving a church that has been plateaued for some time you may have people who have done an adequate job in various positions, but when the church begins to grow they may not be able to meet the new demands that will be made of those positions.  The pastor of this church was fortunate that the treasurer realized his limitations and was willing to step aside so someone better qualified could do the job, but what happens in a church if people are not willing to step aside?

In a growing church new ministries will need to be started.  If the church is reaching formerly unchurched persons they will not be able to lead these new ministries for a period of time while they are being discipled.  Are you preparing people now to lead these new ministries?  If not, then is your church really ready to grow?  If a church waits until growth occurs and then tries to play catch-up, there is a good chance that some of the new people will begin to leave and search for churches that are able to meet their ministry needs.

What plans has your church made for additional child care if young families begin attending your church?  Some smaller, bivocational churches haven't had children or small children in their church for so long they don't even have child care facilities.  You should know that one of the top two things a female guest to your church wants to know is if the children are safe in your congregation.  Child care is vital for a growing church, and if your church does not have the facilities and trained personnel to provide quality child care you may not be ready to grow.

It is not uncommon for there to be competition between the existing members and the new people attending your church.  You will have to find ways to provide meaningful ministry to both your original members and your new members.  Because their needs are often different, this can be a major challenge, but if it isn't done there is the potential of losing much of the growth you have obtained.

A growing church will face challenges related to its facilities.  Does your church have sufficient parking for an additional twenty cars?  What about forty cars?  Is there classroom space to offer new christian education classes?  How many people will your congregation hold?  The rule of thumb is that once your sanctuary or parking lot reaches 80 percent capacity you are full.  Further growth will be very difficult once you hit that number, and if your church is located in a smaller town or rural setting you may find your capacity is less than 80 percent.  How much growth can your facility hold?

Perhaps one reason God hasn't allowed some churches to grow is because He knows they are not ready to grow.  Why would God send people to a church that isn't prepared to receive them?  This is an important subject for your leadership to address.  Is your church ready to grow?

1 comment:

Friar Tuck said...

This is helpful. We are in a process of trying to discern how to adapt to budget shortfalls, and I will keep these things in mind.