Who is in Charge of Growth?


Most congregations like to pin overall responsibility for growth on the senior clergy leader. Fundamentally, most of us still believe that outstanding preaching and worship is what draws people into the large congregation. These two areas of congregational life are under the direct oversight of the senior pastor; therefore, the senior pastor is the “one” most responsible for growth.

Recently I read an article posted by the Leadership Network entitled, Diverse DNA: Varying Factors in Church Cultures Lead to Rapid Growth. I found the overall article rather confusing, but my interest was piqued by these quotes from church growth consultant, Dr. Samuel Chand.

“Most senior pastors have a gift of gathering, but there is a ceiling built into that,” Samuel says. “And most staff members have the mentality of ‘you bring it in, you make it happen, and we’ll do our best to take care of it.’ But that’s a management mentality, not a growth mentality.”

“Instead, Samuel says, each department should have its own growth goals—with measurements and accountability.”

“Churches do not grow exponentially through Sunday morning,” he adds. “They grow exponentially when every department head takes responsibility for growth.”

I have found that the place where growth is managed in a congregation is largely dependent upon the size of the congregation. All churches grow when members invite others to join them in worship, learning and service. All churches grow by adding programs, educational opportunities, service opportunities and worship venues. But different sized congregations manage the growth process from different places.

Congregations with worshiping communities that number 150-400 primarily manage growth at the board level, with strong input from the staff team. Congregations with 400-800 in worship manage their growth through a centralized staff team that collectively coordinates and manages the life of the congregation. The board may provide oversight, expressing expectations about growth, but the growth itself is managed by staff. Congregations worshiping 800-1,200 manage their growth more strategically. Typically an executive team within the staff team takes overall responsibility for coordinating the growth centers of the congregation. After 1,200 the management of growth becomes decentralized and is managed in multiple places at the same time.

How and where is your congregation managing its growth process?

Photo Credit: jimflix at flickr.com

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