Church Building & Growth from the Inside Out

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Just returned from an awesome Pastor's Retreat with about 110 other GGWO pastors. We were challenged, encouraged, built up, and inspired by new ideas and vision. Here are some notes on a session I did on Church Building and Strategies:

Building from the Inside Out

Church Growth vs. “Making all men see” - Numbers are God’s part - we can’t make a tree grow faster. It’s the inherent life within the seed - in the tree. The Gospel Seed is the The Life in the Body = the Word. 1 Pt 1.23 & Jn 6.63. Our Passion is not growth but Paul’s passion: "And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ" - Eph 3.9. It’s the Word of Grace that caused growth in the first church and that made disciples - Acts 4.4. Is the Father’s desire to have a full house - Lk 14.23

“The stat that 80% of church plants that fail is bogus - The truth is that after 4 years 68% of church plants are alive and well - only 32% fail" (see Ed Stetzer‘s research on this). There is a revival of missions and church planting across the country and the world today.

Divine Creativity is Good - Jesus has the Key to the city where we minister = Function by principles and not patterns. Concepts & religious idealism kill - principles breathe creative life into programs and events.


Critical Internal Ingredients:
  1. Inner heart picture of what the church will be like in 2 years, in 5 years and beyond. 
  2. “Self Talk” - what is the content of what we are speaking in our heart as a pastor/planter? Eccl 5.2
  3. The team has to be led in vision and passion - 
    1. Daily schedule
    2. Word of God intensity
    3. “Team Talk” - what are we talking about on the team consistently? Complaining? Vision? 
  4. Pastor and team members personal discipline in the Word, prayer, and private life - personal growth as a leader. 
  5. Develop Timothy and men. “If we have one man we have the country”
  6. Be patient - Let people grow. We are not here to conform people to Christ’s image or a pattern of religious behavior - the Holy Spirit through the Word transforms people by the renewing of their minds. 
  7. Attack laziness - Col 4.17

7 Reasons Why Church Plants Fail - Generally church planters and church planting ministries all agree on these 7 reasons.
  1. Unqualified and or novice leaders
  2. Lack of understanding or respect of the local context
  3. Underfunded
  4. Rigid model
  5. Planting alone
  6. Resiliency in defeat - “Everyone has a plan until they are punched in the face”  Mike Tyson
  7. Intangibles: Calling? Timing? Right Man? Sent? 

Church Growth Analysis: NG = VF x RR – BDL
Net Growth = Visitor Flow x Retention Rate minus Back-Door-Loss (Dr. Larry Sherman - Director of Church Planting - Great Lakes Conference ECC - 82 new churches this year)


Breaking Barriers: With two or three people, there is disciple-making. When you have 12, you have a unit of disciples. A group of 70 you have Body where you assess, train and at 70-100 like Jesus & the Moravians you send out.
  • Breaking the 100 barrier. Unless you are an extra-ordinary pastor / leader - the average pastor can only pastor 70-100 people affectively before he starts losing touch with some. Delegate. Trust. Listen. 
  • Breaking the 200 barrier. Disciple & raise up men. Many churches had to break down and hire a small staff to go beyond the 200 mark. 
  • Breaking the 500 & 1000 marks - The pastor takes on more of a preaching/teaching role only & with effective training and raising up men to lead teams, groups and departments. He focuses on his investment and discipleship of this handful of men that are leading. 

6 Team Positions That Must be Filled to Grow a Church plant startup: (this may be obvious but a common mistake is the planting pastor does it all himself with little to no delegation & trust)
1. Lead Pastor: You have to have a point leader - A builder of men. Jesus had disciples, Acts 20.4-5 Paul traveled with his men and you should mentor the team & others as well.
2. Worship Arts Director: Someone who can provide leadership and build teams at every level. Web, stage design, media and graphic design. 
3. Children’s Director: a MUST, a Youth Pastor can wait.
4. Connections/Assimilation Leader
Greeters, parking lots, cafe, etc. = connections, and follow-up from first-timer through them accepting Christ and becoming discipled is key in being baptized into the Body. Many times assimilation is shared with the Pastor and  the Assistant Pastor in this list or this is 2 separate roles.
5. Office Administration/Pastor Assistant
This is such a key role that again, your wife does NOT want to fill.
6. Prayer Warrior/Leader


#1 Problem all leaders struggle today is they are not encouraged. Not built up. Tell a man who he is and he’ll know what to do. Here are 12 reasons (among many) leaders lose their passion in their call and they stop growing - in return their ministry stops growing. Very often the people that a leader leads will not grow beyond the level the leader himself has grown - we need as leaders to be constantly challenged and constantly grow.
  1. Getting stuck in the mud of the details of the ministry & spinning wheels.
  2. Distraction of entertainment - movies, online entertainment, gaming, and excessive recreation
  3. Google searches replace turning of the pages of the Bible and books.
  4. Discouragement due to family pressures or marriage problems - find the right balance.
  5. Soulish relationships - relationships that cross the lines into the inappropriate
  6. Petty skirmishes - the tit-for-tat arguments because of insecurity
  7. Hidden idols - toleration for error that slips in and causes to stumble
  8. Personal sin. Sin steals joy, vision and concentration. Consecration produces concentration
  9. Pursuit of materialism - Succumbing to the temptation to possess and acquire.
  10. Knowledge replaces obedience - The stimulation of information replaces radical steps of faith
  11. Psychological thinking replaces Bible Conviction
  12. Departing from the basics of the vision & teaching to be more acceptable and less controversial.

Things that Have Brought new people for us in Philly/Hatboro. 

  1. Monthly events - Last month - Pig Roast - 200~ new visitors.
  2. Concerts and Raffle
  3. Bring a Friend Sunday - new visitors get a free gift bag
  4. Social Media - targeting groups of people with special interest / topics - Meetup.com & Craigslist
  5. Word of Mouth 
  6. “Walk-ins"
  7. Signs in front of the church
  8. Street evangelism & visitation 
  9. Sermon series & hitting hot topics people talk about on the street.
  10. “Surgical Outreaches” - Targeting community events and people hotspots with events such as coffee house outreach, etc.