My friend Dr. Aubrey Malphurs is one of the top church leadership experts in the country today. He’s written over 20 books and knows his stuff. This week his newest book, Look before you Lead, hits the bookstores and online retailers. I asked him to write this guest post today. Read it with interest and consider adding his new book to your library.
Why don’t churches grow? Consider these 6 reasons Dr. Malphurs has discovered that causes many churches to stagnate.
1) You don’t know yourself
Many pastors assume they are gifted for what they are doing. Do you know what you are best at? Pastors should take the time to listen to those who know them and assess how God has designed them.
2) You don’t know your church
Let’s be honest. Many pastors take positions for less than holy reasons (needed a job, hated previous job, wanted to lead, etc). When this happens what gets overlooked is proper analysis of the church they are moving into. If the pastor doesn’t understand the values, belief, and assumptions of the church he is in, it is likely they will never change and the church will never grow.
My recently released book, “Look Before You Lead: How to Discern and Shape Your Church Culture” addresses the importance of pastors assessing the culture of a potential church (and vice-versa) prior to taking the position. This is an alignment issue that affects churches on many levels (see #4 below) and in many situations not only before a new pastor comes but once a new pastor arrives with hopes of making changes.
3) You church doesn’t know its context
Churches are very skilled at providing events, resources, and ministry opportunities for those ALREADY in the church. But what about the surrounding community? When is the last time you did a demographic study? Exegete your culture if you want your biblical exegesis to have any impact.
4) The pastor’s values don’t align with the church
Many pastors wonder why the church doesn’t respond to their leadership. They aren’t perfect, but it isn’t all their fault either. Write down the church’s top five values (actual, not aspirational) and your values as a pastor. Are the lists the same? What does this information tell you?
5) The church assumes the community likes what they like
Inside of church walls, we do an excellent job convincing ourselves that everyone should want the same things we want–this will never happen. Consider the likes, wants, needs, and values of the community and leverage this without violating biblical norms.
6) Your church isn’t honest about its aspirational values
If a church can’t clearly articulate its aspirational values, its head is likely in the sand, avoiding reality. If you don’t identify an issue, you’ll likely never improve it.
What barriers to growth have you seen in your church?