Alban Weekly | Five lies we like to tell about church growth

8 months ago

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Five lies we like to tell about church growth
Some churches grow, and others shrink. Most oscillate for decades around a size they find comfortable. Whether your church is trying to achieve escape velocity from its comfortable size zone or struggling to stay within it, you need to know what growth requires. Unfortunately, we often soothe each other by ignoring well-established facts about church growth and telling reassuring lies. Here are a few of the most common:
Lie #1: Friendly churches grow. Declining churches often marvel at how many visitors show up once and don't return. "But we're so friendly!" Like most lies we tell ourselves, this one has a grain of truth in it: a visitor who gets a friendly greeting is more likely to return. But most church consultants know that the more vehemently leaders say their church is friendly, the more likely it will feel quite cold to visitors.
When people say, "Our church is friendly," generally they mean "My friends are here." Visitors to "friendly" churches see the backs of people's heads-heads gathered into tight, impenetrable groups of friends. Churches that excel at hospitality are more apt to give themselves a B+ or C- in the friendliness department-and appreciate that hospitality takes effort.
Read more from Dan Hotchkiss » 
What do you do when you don't know where God is leading you? 
The Rev. Gideon Tsang's tale is one of risk and reward -- but it isn't just a success story. The pastor of Vox Veniae shares some painful failures and struggles he and his congregation experienced as they planted a church and then tried to figure out how it could serve the changing city of Austin. 
In his conversation with co-host Laura Everett, he also talks about self-reflection, creating a learning community and moving forward without a grand vision.
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The 80 percent rule: fact or fiction?
Church growth consultants are fond of noting that when average church attendance exceeds 80 percent of sanctuary capacity, crowding begins to limit a congregation's growth. More and more people are asking how and where the 80 percent rule originated and what research supports its validity.
Read more from Marlis McCollum »
Church growth: shifting your leadership style 
As churches grow, the work of leadership changes. It's important for a clergyperson to know if they would be capable of leading a church to real, sustainable growth, and vocationally-fulfilled.
Read more from Alice Mann »
Governance and Ministry: Rethinking Board Leadership
by Dan Hotchkiss
Governance and Ministry has proven to be an indispensable guide for leaders and clergy on how to work together to lead congregations. In this second edition, veteran congregational consultant and minister Dan Hotchkiss updates the book to reflect today's church and synagogue landscape and shares practical insights based on his work with readers of the first edition.
Governance and Ministry highlights the importance of reaching the right governance model for a congregation to fulfill its mission-to achieve both the outward results and the inward quality of life to which it is called. Hotchkiss draws on governance research from business, nonprofits, and churches, as well as deep experience in a variety of denominations and congregations to help readers determine the governance model that best fits their needs. The second edition has been streamlined and reorganized to better help readers think through leadership models and the process of change. The book features new material on the implications of congregation size, the process of governance change, policy choices, and the lay-clergy relationship. It also features two appendices with resources often requested by Hotchkiss's consulting clients: a style guide for policy-makers and a unified example of a board policy book. 
Written with energy and humor, and offering plenty of practical examples, the second edition of this helpful resource is ideal for anyone involved in church leadership to assist in framing critical questions, creating a vision, and implementing a plan.
 Learn more and order the book »
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