9 “Without’s” that Get in the Way of Growing a Healthy Church

I’m accustomed to thinking about things we need to do to lead a church to growth. What I don’t often think about is the focus of this post: “without’s” that hinder church growth. Let me know your thoughts about these “without’s.”

  1. Preaching without the Bible. Preaching without the Word may result in increased attendance, but it won’t grow a healthy church. God’s inspired Word makes a difference.
  2. Worship services without real worship. The activity of Sunday morning is just that—activity—if it doesn’t lead people to encounter the living God. Real worship changes people.
  3. Leadership without proven-ness. That is, we pay a price when we put unqualified and unprepared people into leadership positions. And, it’s tough to move them out once we’ve put them into these roles.
  4. Membership without expectations. When we admit members without talking about expectations for the Body of Christ, we get what we’ve often gotten—uncommitted and unfaithful members. Often, they don’t even know what they’re not doing since we didn’t tell them expectations up front.
  5. Growth without conversions. Simply swapping sheep between congregations doesn’t grow a healthy church. Transfer growth is sometimes warranted, but it’s often the same people choosing church according to their own preferences.
  6. Strategizing without community demographics. It’s tough to reach a community when you don’t really know who lives there—or if you plan on the basis of assumptions rather than good research. Knowing the community matters if you want to reach them.
  7. Telling without teaching. We do it all the time: we tell people to read the Bible, pray, evangelize, give, etc., without ever teaching them how to do these tasks. We set members up for failure and then complain when they don’t follow our lead.
  8. The Great Commission without teaching to obey. By that phrase, I mean evangelizing without follow up training and accountability (which, actually, then would not be the Great Commission). Our responsibility is not finished when someone gets saved.
  9. Fellowship without “provoking.” That is, we enjoy our food and time together, but nobody’s pushing anybody toward love and good works (Heb. 10:24). This kind of fellowship is incomplete at best, self-centered and sinful at its worst. 

So, what “without’s” would you add to this list? 


  • Lindy says:

    Proceeding without prayer.

  • Tammy Lee says:

    Trying to bring in new members without taking care of the members already there.

  • Mike says:

    Yes to all of these! You have hit the essential elements of the foundations for a profound approach to a healthy church. It is interesting how secular organizations will hire well (#3), provide orientation (#4), know their operational areas (#6), perform policy reviews using the policies (#1), and train, train, train (#7) so their people will perform to their optimums.

    But many in the church just want to fill the pews with bodies that are warm and breathing so their Sunday stats look good. The rest of this is hard work even when the members are willing. Others think that people should already know how to do these things and all I need to do is preach it and it will naturally come about. Yet, to others all this stuff is man’s vain philosophy and is forbidden in the church. They all are truly missing a great opportunity to make disciples.

    Personally, I am posting this so all can see.

  • Charles Kile says:

    Social events that are not within core values of the church and are not helping young people or new members to be trained in organization skills but rather the same members doing the same task every time.

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