Paint a Picture For Growth
By Tony Morgan
“So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers” (ACTS T 6:5, NIV).
Verses such as this have always challenged me in my role as a pastor. I read about the early church growing daily in numbers and about thousands committing their lives to Christ at one time (Acts 2:41), and I think, “Why isn’t our church growing faster? What should we be doing differently?” I continually struggle between awe and discontent. I’m amazed at the number of people who are meeting Jesus and who are growing in their faith, but at the same time, I’m discouraged that we aren’t reaching more people faster.
My ongoing passion to reach more people is partially fueled by a ministry team that expects growth. As a team, we’ve learned that without a planned destination, no one knows where to go. In churches, that often leads to doing ministry without a purpose. There may be a lot of activity, but activity doesn’t necessarily translate into which programs with positive outcomes. Some ministries reach a point at which programs drive the church because no one has determined where the church is going. That must be, reversed. The church first needs to determine where it’s going and then develop programs to reach that destination. A clearly defined vision that gives a picture of the ideal future of your ministry will help focus prayer, energy, and resources. It can also fuel growth.
Here’s a specific example of what this means. In 1999, our average attendance was 1,600. We developed a vision statement, and part of it stated that by 2010 we will have 10,000 people in attendance. That simple statement does some amazing things for our ministry:
• First, our vision statement sets expectations. When people connect with us, they know we intend to grow. Because of this, our ministry culture is dynamic. People don’t challenge change; they expect it. As a church, we know that we’ll constantly be reassessing our strategy and improving how we can affect the most lives in our community.
• Second, our vision statement helps us make decisions today that are intentionally designed to have a specific outcome. Planning to eventually have 10,000 people in attendance influences all kinds of decisions. It pushes us to always focus on volunteer-team development. It helps bring clarity to staffing decisions. It encourages us to consider building-design and construction priorities. It helps us refine our structure and systems to accommodate additional growth. We know we’ll have to grow ahead of growth in order to increase our capacity to minister to that many people.
• Third, our vision of the future helps us define priorities. Our church could initiate many valid and valuable ministries, but not all of them will help us fulfill the vision to which we believe God has called our church.
Recently 30 lay leaders from our church gathered recently, we asked them, “What is the most important contribution our senior pastor makes fin his leadership role at Granger?” In addition to “teaching on the weekends,” the most common response was “vision casting.” As part of a growing ministry, these leaders recognized the importance of developing a clear r vision and continually reminding the church that it’s the vision God has :: called us to accomplish.
Is your church growing daily in numbers? If not, you may need to begin by defining where you hope to go. That starts with a well-defined and clearly stated vision. Your church will not grow if it doesn’t expect to grow.