This last weekend I had the privilege of interacting with a great group of pastors and church leaders from Texas and Oklahoma. In our dialogue session on missional and empowered churches the question was asked about overcoming barriers to growth - as most of these congregations were three hundred or less. My answer to them may have surprised them but I believe it goes to a principle that applies to both churches and ministry organizations that desire to see their influence and ministry grow.

Perhaps the biggest barrier to our growth is how we think about ourselves. A small church often thinks like a small church. A mom and pop ministry organization often thinks like a mom and pop ministry organization. That very mindset is the very thing that often keeps us from going to the next level. To get to the next level, one must think like one would think - and therefore act - at that next level.

Take a wonderful ministry that I interact with from time to time. It is still in the entrepreneurial start up phase characterized by low levels of salary for employees, lack of strong internal infrastructure or ministry stability and a board that constantly gets into management decisions. Its very internal structure is designed to keep it where it is and prevent it from growing into a more disciplined, stable organization. They think small, act small even though they want the opposite.
What this ministry needs to do to grow to the next level is to start to act like a ministry would act at the next level. It is counterintuitive but to grow one must act as if the organization were larger - and often it will catch up!

This is equally true with churches who desire to get to the next level. If you are a church of 200, ask the question: "What does a successful church of 400 look like and what are they doing differently than us?" Often it goes to the quality of what they do and a mindset that is more external than internal. How the leadership thinks and acts is also probably different. Leadership that is locked into the minutia of who locks the church and who can use the gym do not have the time to focus on the very issues that will help them move to the next level.

The bottom line is that growing ministries have leaders who are thinking ahead of the current size of their ministry. They know where they are but they think like a larger ministry and make their own decisions accordingly. While there are many barriers that can hold us back it is this unseen barrier that may be the most important to pay attention to. 
  • Mar 01, 2011
  • Category: News
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