Last week I spent some time on a Skype call with a staff at a church that was planted several years ago and has grown to more than 1500 in attendance. The Lord has done and is doing a great work through the pastors and staff. I shared with the team these five thoughts about navigating through seasons of growth. This is definitely not an exhaustive list, but I believe these apply to a staff team in any growing church.
Growth is good, but don’t make it your idol.
Growth is good. Growth means people who were not connected to the body are getting connected, people who were lost are now found, and people who were not being served are being served. But growth is a horrible idol. If you make growth your chief goal, it will enslave you and rob you of the joy of ministry.
The growth should benefit the city, the community.
Jesus told His disciples the birds of the sky come and nest in His kingdom’s branches (Matthew 13:32). That phrase took the disciples back to Old Testament descriptions of the Assyrian and Babylonian kingdoms, whose kingdoms were so powerful and fruitful that even people outside of those kingdoms benefited. In other words, those outside of His kingdom benefit from His kingdom’s existence. For this reason, the community in which a church resides should benefit from her presence. As a church grows, so should the ways in which she blesses those outside her. Those outside of your church should benefit from your church’s existence.
The challenges in a growing church are fierce, and if these challenges take you away from caring for your own soul, you will suffer and those you serve will suffer. You must repent every day. You must come back to His grace every day. His mercies are new every morning, rest in them. Many churches lose momentum through a rocky season in the wake of a leader’s character implosion. If there is consistent sin in your life from which you are unwilling to repent, for the sake of the church you must take yourself off the team.
Staff must be equippers.
As a church grows, staff and pastors must move from doing all of the ministry to equipping others to do the ministry. Equipping is necessary because it is biblical, not only because it is practical. But in a growing church, if a staff does not learn to build teams of people who serve, the growth is hampered. A non-equipping staff member is quickly exposed on the staff of a growing church.
Learn the rhythms of your church and city, and prayerfully repeat.
Don’t be afraid of systems. They are not unspiritual. God created the solar system and the circulatory system, and He sustains life through them. As you learn the rhythms of your city and church, utilize simple systems to build a sustainable pace. For example, know your process for following up with guests and new believers. Know the best times to launch new groups, to recruit new volunteers, and so on.