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The Most Critical and Yet Neglected Habit Required for Church Growth

I have led and taught the principles of church growth for over two decades. It’s been my privilege to assist church leaders all over the world in leading their congregations towards growth. And yet, sadly, the ones who are able to grow their churches successfully are often the minority.

Frankly, this bothers me deeply. I want to see God’s church flourishing. I want every church winning. I am passionate about coaching, encouraging and equipping church leaders for success.

With all of my heart, I believe that the principles for growing the church are not just for the uber-talented or the super smart.

If a principle is from the Bible, it will work everywhere and for everyone.

And yet…

So often, I have seen leaders walk away from our DREAM conference and coaching with all of the right tools and miserably fail.

Why?

I have found that…

  • It’s NOT because they don’t make changes to the weekend service or become more guest friendly.
  • It’s NOT because they’re indifferent to the lost in their community.
  • It’s NOT because they don’t set up a system for discipleship.
  • It’s NOT because they don’t plug people into serving.
  • It’s NOT even because they aren’t involved in missions.

So, what is the most critical and yet most neglected habit of church growth?

CRUCIAL CONVERSATIONS

Front view of male leader conducting team-building seminar sitting in circle on chair near window.

Surveys have shown over and over that the least practiced discipline among leaders is having that tough conversation.

Talking with that singer that can’t hold a note.

Moving that greeter with the “angry resting face” to another role.

Dealing with that troublemaker that’s undermining every positive change.

Standing up to that deacon or board member whose toxicity is poisoning everyone around them.

Shutting down that “ministry” whose effectiveness ended in 1974.

Saying “No,” to that lady who blindsides you 5 minutes before the service telling you to “make this announcement.”

Confronting that ministry leader for unacceptable behavior.

Holding that staffer accountable for what they are paid to do.

And the list goes on…

The truth is that all of the sermons, systems, tools and tech in the world can’t make up for dysfunction.

The church is the bride of Christ. When someone is doing something damaging to the church and its mission, it’s the same as a person abusing your spouse.

Are you going to cower or confront!?

Conflict Management

Paul, when giving instructions to the elders he had put in charge of the churches he started, gives them this admonition, “So guard yourselves and God’s people…” (Acts 20:28, NLT)

The duties of a Senior Pastor can be summarized as, “lead, feed and sometimes weed!”

Unfortunately, too many pastors are only feeding, barely leading, but never weeding.

It is the duty of the Senior Pastor to cut out the cancer, not placate those who instigate. As Harry Truman said, “The buck stops here!”

Yes, it’s the absolute worst duty you’ll ever have to do, but you simply must care more for the health of the body than the comfort of your cowardice.

I hate having crucial conversations. I’m literally sick for days before I do it. But I can honestly say that nothing has been more critical to the growth of our church.

Why?

Because health leads to growth while funk always festers.

You can’t pray it away.
You have to step into the fray.

To be a senior pastor is to accept the title of Chief Confrontation Officer, and trust me, no one is interested in doing it for you.

So, do the church a favor.

Pray fervently.
Love unconditionally.
Walk humbly and then…

Confront lovingly.

Read more on How to Deal with Poisonous Parishioners

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