Is 400 a number you ever think about? I do!In fact 400 has been on my mind quite a ‘bit lately!  It is the latest barrier in our church.  What do I mean by that?  It is what is referred to in Church Growth textbooks as a “Growth Barrier.”  And our most recent growth barrier is 400, that means we are having a hard time passing that number in attendance and then sustaining that growth.

Recently I went back to a book I read a couple years ago written by Carl George, “How to Break Growth Barriers.” Here are a few of the insights I gathered from George on breaking through the 400 barrier:

  1. Space! 
  2. Changing the role of the church governing board. “Planning and administration must become a staff function, not a board responsibility.” George, states that this transition, “needs to be in motion to break the 400 barrier.” He then states, “The team that must drive the program, provide the vision, do the planning, and create the budgets is the church staff, not the board.” (George considers “staff” people in management roles, whether they are paid or unpaid, so in our church this would include Elders, Sabbath School leaders, etc.). 
  3. The boards one function or primary function should be policy.  If a church is to become bigger, the staff must commission ministry and take policy direction from boards. The staff is “not driven by a volunteer-controlled board…Too many details arise that cannot wait until the board convenes each month.  No matter how efficient the board tries to be, it can regularly bottleneck the staff’s efforts to build growth momentum.”
  4. Ministry positions come through appointment, rather than election.
  5. “The church board becomes smaller–ideally a single-digit size.”
  6. Senior pastor must move from being a “manager” to being a “leader.” The senior leader gives direction through casting the vision and calling it to come into reality. Then another individual, the manager, sees to it that the vision gets accomplished through others.
  7. “Staff members ought to be able to produce fifty new lay leaders (people who lead others) within a three year period.”  I really like this one! 
  8. All key leaders must become gifted DELEGATORS! 
  9. Senior leader must “Stop doing things other people could do. Focus your energies on those things that only you can do.  Pass the rest of the work to your team.”

I believe we are having some success in areas 2, 3, & 4. We’ll have to continue working and praying on the others.

Below are the things I would add to George’s list, that I believe are essential, and even with the above items perfectly in place without these next items Growth won’t occur:

  1. An abundance of prayer!  Prayer warriors must operate in every level of your church. I believe it must be the church’s culture!
  2. Teaching of the Word of God!  The Bible, all of it, must be taught in order to grow!
  3. Love! Without love we are just clanging cymbals.
  4. Unity! Especially amongst leadership.  If there are folk in leadership positions that are not 100% committed to the vision of the church, the teachings of the church, and the team they are a part of and they know it then they should step aside so the church can grow.  Unity is a must!


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