8 “Bad Thinking” Barriers to Church Growth

I realize there are usually many factors that lead to a lack of church growth. I’m also deeply committed to using this site to affirm and encourage church leaders. At the same time, though, I recognize that some leaders allow bad thinking to become a barrier to growth. See if any of these ideas reflects your thinking:

  1. The “I’ll do it on my own” barrier. I don’t know any leaders who consciously decide to do ministry in their own power. I do, though, know many who live that way – evidenced by their praying hard only when they face something they can’t handle on their own.
  2. The “Let’s just trust the Lord and see what happens” barrier. I agree that we must just trust the Lord, but the Lord does expect us to use our brains and our talents. Most of the time, a lack of planning equals laziness and poor leadership more than it does deep spirituality.
  3. The “Let’s try a new program” barrier. I’m not opposed to programs (in fact, I’ve written resources that contribute to programs). If, however, we put our efforts into programs – and continually change them when one stops working – we’ll actually hinder church growth by our confusion.
  4. The “Nobody wants to change” barrier. I have previously discussed the issue of change on this site (see here, here, and here), but I also believe that effective church growth leaders will learn to shepherd their congregations through change. Sometimes, we’re simply not patient, persistent, and wise enough to lead well through change.  
  5. The “More is better” barrier. We must reach people, and I want our churches to reach large numbers of people for Christ. If we assume that everything must be large to be effective, however, we won’t do much—including disciple the few like Jesus did.
  6. The “Their grass is greener” barrier. As long as we’re looking at somebody else’s field, it’s impossible for us to tend our own field well. I’ve known no distracted leader who continually led his church to growth.
  7. The “Give me a vision first” barrier. If we wait to develop vision before we start anything, we likely won’t have needed knowledge of our congregation and community to help develop an informed vision. Our church will languish in the present while we talk about the future. 
  8. The “If people only knew how busy I am” barrier. If we’re thinking that way, we’re (a) too busy in general; (b) failing to reproduce other leaders; or (c) workaholic “martyrs” who quietly want others to know about our sacrifice. None of this leads to healthy church growth. 

What other barriers come to mind for you? If you see yourself in any of these, let us know how we might pray for you. 

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