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Reasons churches stop growing

Every leader wants to see the church they are a part of grow; growing both in numbers of people and in the spiritual maturity of the people.

Much has been written on the subject of church growth. Recently there has been a swing to not just be a concern about numbers, but also about the spiritual health of the people attending; church health, not just church growth.

Tim Bice, one of my clients, who is the lead pastor of Greenbriar church in Albany, Georgia, has come to the conclusion that growth (or lack thereof) boils down to three key areas:

  • The Leader
  • The Systems
  • The Culture

 Here are some of my thoughts on these three ideas that Tim has pinpointed:


I agree with John Maxwell when he says that everything stands or falls on leadership. As goes the leader (the leadership), so goes the church. I further believe that leadership is best carried out in the context of a team rather than based on one single dynamic leader. This is often referred to as a “Plurality of Elders.” The careful and prayerful selection of leaders is so important. 

Here are some questions to ask about a potential leader:

  • How is the leader’s relationship with Christ? Is it genuine and deepening?
  •  Does the leader demonstrate consistent character quality--the kind mentioned in I Timothy 3, Titus 1 and I Peter 5?
  • Does the leader have the emotional and mental capacity to lead at the level the church is at and to continue to lead as the church grows?
  • Can the leader fit into the existing team and complement the chemistry that is currently experienced there? The ability to work well with others is absolutely essential.
  • Does the leader display a high degree of competency in an area that is currently needed, thereby adding value to the team--not just another body.


Every good organization has effective systems to help it function well.  How healthy are the systems at your church? Is there a clear process for helping new attendees find their place in the body? Is there a process for vetting potential workers for key positions whether they be paid or volunteers? Is there a clear way to steward well the finances of the church so that everything is done honestly leaving no room for accusations? Is there a biblically-based process for church discipline when it is called for?


The type of culture at a church is just as important as its vision and values. If the culture is toxic, dictatorial, unsafe and joyless, the vision will not happen in a God-honoring way and, perhaps, not at all. Is there a culture of grace, forgiveness and an absence of slander and gossip? In many situations people speak about people instead of to people--a clear violation of Matthew 5 and Matthew 18.  It starts with and is modeled by the key leaders and goes from there throughout the organization. If there is an unhealthy leadership culture at the top, it will result in an entire church with an unhealthy and harmful culture.



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