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preaching article 8 Reasons Why Some Churches Never Grow

8 Reasons Why Some Churches Never Grow

based on 26 ratings
Dec 28, 2011

1. The Vision Is Not Clear

If people don’t know where a church is supposed to be going, then it will attempt to go everywhere and eventually wind up nowhere.  (Interesting experiment — ask people this coming Sunday at your church, “What is our vision” and see if people give you the same answers or different ones.)

2. The Focus Is on Trying to Please Everyone

There is NO church on the planet that will make everyone happy every single week — and according to the Scriptures, that isn’t really supposed to be our obsession.  Too many times, we become so concerned with offending people that we actually offend Jesus.

3. Passionless Leadership

When a leader does what he/she does for a paycheck and not because it's their passion … it’s over.  I’ve said it before … I want difference-makers, not paycheck-takers.  Also, it is hard to be passionate about a place when a person's average stay at a church is two years or less.

4. Manufacturing Energy

If a program is dead in a church … then it needs a funeral, and the people need to move on.  Investing time, energy, and money into something that is dead will not revive it.  Celebrate the fact that “that” program had its day … and then move on.  AND quit trying to fire people up over events that you would not attend if you were not on staff.

5. Lack of Prayer

Many times, we work so hard putting our ideas together that we actually think there is no need for the supernatural power of God to be involved.  Prayer should not be the good luck charm that we stick at the beginning or the end of what we do … but rather it should be our constant desperation to see God do the undeniable among us.  Intense desperation often brings undeniable revelation!

6. Unwillingness to Take Risks

When our focus becomes to play it safe rather than to do whatever it takes to reach people far from God … it’s over.  NOWHERE in the Scriptures did God ever ask anyone to do anything that didn’t involve an “oh crap” moment.  We’ve GOT to be willing to embrace the uncertain if we want to see the unbelievable.

7. Disobedience to the Scriptures

Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:15, Luke 24:48, John 20:21, Acts 1:8, II Corinthians 5:16-21, Luke 19:10 … I could go on and on … but we MUST understand that Jesus didn’t come to Earth, live here for 33 years, give HIS life for us, and then return back to heaven to intercede for us so that we could get in really little circles and talk about ourselves and condemn those who are not as good as us.  We are called to REACH PEOPLE FOR GOD — PERIOD!

8. Selfish Attitudes  

Matthew 20:28 says it all … and if we are going to be more like Jesus, we’ve GOT to serve others rather than expecting the church to be our servant all of the time.  When a person (or group of people) refuses to embrace that a call to follow Jesus is a call to serve … then we’ve lost sight of who He is, and eventually, we will make being a Christian all about Jesus following/serving us rather than us taking up our cross and following Him!

Perry Noble is the founding and senior pastor of NewSpring Church in South Carolina. The church averages 26,000 people during weekend services at multiple campuses throughout the state. Perry is a gifted communicator and teacher, convicted about speaking the truth as plainly as possible. God has given him a vision and a passion for helping people meet Jesus, and each week he shares God’s word and its practical application in our daily lives. Perry, his wife Lucretia and their daughter Charisse live in Anderson, South Carolina. You can read all of Perry’s unfiltered thoughts about life and leadership at PerryNoble.com. Don’t worry, he holds nothing back.

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Talk about it...

R.l. Wilson avatar
R.l. Wilson
0 days ago
Keep going Brother Perry! You could probably write a book or preach a series of sermons on these. Thanks for the article. God Bless.
Angela De Souza avatar
Angela De Souza
0 days ago
Keith  B avatar
Keith B
0 days ago
How about "Because the pastor doesn't preach the gospel and instead just stands up and insults the sheep"? Preach the word and feed the sheep, Perry. You're not called to gather a herd of goats..you're called to preach the Gospel and feed the sheep.
John E Miller avatar
John E Miller
0 days ago
There is a subliminal message running through Mr Noble's articles. In the Noble-design church there is the pastor and his "staff", who know what the vision for the church should be. They know what offends Jesus! Let's have an "oh crap" moment, for example. That won't offend Jesus. It might offend a few godly followers of Jesus, but what do they matter? The Noble-pattern pastor is a difference maker, oh yes! The difference he wants to see is a congregation of people that shares his "obsession". Let's manufacture some energy, now there's a great idea. Man made energy is good! What is the alternative? Prayerful patience before God? Forget that! Let's get desperate! Better still, let's be intenseley desperate! That way we'll get uneniable revelation. Would quiet prayerful consideration of God's word not be better? Forget it man, we've discovered a new catch-phrase, "Intense desperation brings undeniable revelation!" Way to go, man! There is a basic truth ignored in all this rambling, it is the principle of the priesthood of every believer. No church according to the scriptural pattern is divided up like the Noble pattern church into pastor and staff on the one hand and the flock on the other. We are all part of Christ's flock. A "kid-on" pastor who offends one of Christ's little ones will face His wrath (Mat.18:6). A church will grow when the followers of Jesus who comprise it have Him as their Saviour, Lord, Master, Shepherd, Teacher and Example. It may grow numerically, it may not. That might not be God's will for that particular church, but it will definitely grow spiritually, if the Holy Spirit of God's service in tirelessly directing every born-again child of God to Christ, is folowed.
Jim Dixon avatar
Jim Dixon
0 days ago
I am trying to figure out what John Miller's comments have to do with the article. Seems that he is looking for an opportunity to bash Noble rather than address whe article itself. Let's quit criticizing one another and focus on the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. Perry's church has won thousands to Christ. I wish we could say the same for ours.
Trevor Payton avatar
Trevor Payton
0 days ago
Amen, Jim! If a church feels called to reach the lost, and yet finds that it's not being effective in doing so, then I think it needs to reads this article, because it'll be helpful. A couple of the comments on this article so far give evidence of an ingrown mentality. A good book in this regard (with a great title!) is "Outgrowing the Ingrown Church" by C. John Merrill.
Steve Z avatar
Steve Z
0 days ago
I take exception to point number 7, I agree that we are not supposed to just get into little groups and talk about ourselves but Scripture does NOT tell us that we are to reach people for Christ Period. That is one of the most important things we are to do for the kingdom, but you have completely ignored passages such as Ephesians 4; 1 Thess 5; Romans 12; etc... The list could go on and on, the church IS a place where people are supposed to be growing in the Lord, learning from God's word, going from milk to meat (1 Cor 3; Heb 12) I understand that your church is a reaction to all the fat Christians sitting around and not doing anything for the kingdom, but to swing to one extreme or the other is not the answer. You are called by God Mr. Nobel to shepherd the flock in addition to sharing the gospel. In fact if you believe what God tells us in Ephesians chapter 4 your JOB as a pastor is to "equip the saints" for the work of ministry. I encourage you to become that shepherd and not one who just berates the sheep.
B Angus avatar
B Angus
0 days ago
Obedience to God does not always mean numerical growth, as a matter of fact, shortly after the feeding of the multitudes, so many stopped following Jesus he turned and looked at his disciples and said, "Will you leave me too?" While I agree there is something positive about growing churches, we have bought into this false idea that just because a church is not growing numerically, that it somehow is doing something wrong. It could be doing everything right and still not see the results in growth that they would like. How many prophets in the Scriptures were called by God to speak to a people that would not listen. Jesus does call us to go and preach and to make disciples. He though, is the Lord of the Harvest! I agree with most of what he says in this article, but it gives this assumption that just because a church is not growing numerically, it may be doing something wrong - that is simply not true. On the flip side, some churches might be growing because 1. They are using a worldy vision, rather than what God wants. 2. Passionate leaders that are more passionate about the church and ministry than spending daily time in God's presence, allowing Him to lead and guide their decisions. 3.They have great programs that work that may have a "form of godliness" but lacks the annointing of the Holy Spirit to really transform lives. 4. Appealing to people's selfishness attitudes (outings, functions, activities) more than addressing sinfulness and our need for salvation. Obviously I'm playing devil's advocate here! Just something to think about!
Peter Mwariri avatar
Peter Mwariri
0 days ago
I agree with B ANGUS.Here is why. i have been a Pastor for the last seven years and the church membership has not reached 20.I pray and i am passionate about Christ.I teach the true word of God.I have a serious Bible study in Church.I wonder why we think lack of numerical growth is Pastors problem or some wrongs on the Leadership.I h ave reached a point of giving up and am discouraged much.But i believe God has better plans for me.Even now i have a headache.It might be none of the above..maybe something else.
Rev Becky Troke avatar
Rev Becky Troke
0 days ago
i read the artical with great interest and i would say we as a small church r following the applical points , but we have been at this church (its in a hall) for two and a half years and yet we dont grow. We just start getting somewhere and then something happenns and we go backwards. its frushtrating. The leadership r all disabled (and we throw ourselves into the work and its as though we r trying to run through deep mud. I know God wants us here but where r the people.
Fred Gurule avatar
Fred Gurule
0 days ago
Wow what a timing for me to read this ariticle. Our church is on the verge of something great happening and your article helps me to make sure I do my part and make sure the decisions we make are in line with the mind of God. Thank you for being straight forward. I must take heed to point one and point two. Taking risks is also going to be exciting and I realize that without risks there is no possibility of any gain and this is not just a saying. God bless.
0 days ago
I am sure there are as many reasons why a church isn't growing as there are people who really care. I believe the largest reason is that the focus of the church has come off of Christ and onto other things like tradition and works,just to name a few. Numbers should never be a factor. If you have all of the chritians in the world in one building what good are they to the world. I would rather consider the ones we have touched as they move in and out of our lives. Also there are many people who feel like if there is a need that they must tackle it because no one has stepped up to do it. If you are not led by God then stay out of it. If you jump in you are actually robbing the ones God intends of thier blessings for being obediant. God will let you continue but your works may not be blessed. If God is telling you He wants you to do something there will be no doubt about it.
Daniel Leavitt avatar
Daniel Leavitt
0 days ago
There is a really weird assumption going on here: that Big churches preach the true gospel and small churches don't. I would have to say that my experience is just the opposite. The Mormon tabernacle is full of people, while the house churches of China are rather small individually speaking. There is nothing wrong with a small congregation of true believers if that is what God has for you for this season and location. When Jesus hung on the cross nearly all but a few of his followers were left. They loved it when the show was awesome but didn't get the whole cross bearing part at all.
Pastor C.s. Lesko avatar
Pastor C.s. Lesko
0 days ago
To Rev. Becky: Don't be discouraged! If your comments mean that you are ministering to a group of physically disabled, you probably will never attract large numbers. I have an adult step son who is disabled and he would LOVE to find a congregation where he could fit in. If your comments refer to other mental or spiritual disabilities, perhaps God is calling you to minister to those whom other pastors would ignore. I pastored to such a church for 13 years and God blessed what had been pegged a "dying" church. We never grew in numbers, but we made a difference to folks who were hurting and unappreciated in the bigger groups. Never underestimate what a small group can do. Christ's ministry on earth showed us that! I'm lifting you in prayer.
Keith  B avatar
Keith B
0 days ago
Or maybe God just doesn't want them to grow large. Why do we get caught up in numbers? Perry just gave us 8 man-centered reasons on why we aren't manufacturing growth. Maybe the church isn't going to grow right now because God wants to work on the people already there.
Jamel Salter avatar
Jamel Salter
0 days ago
I sooo agree with Daniel's comments. We need to get past this assumption of big means God is moving at that particular church. There are much deeper issues with the body of Christ at large in this country that must be explored. Also the kind of growth definitely warrants and intelligent discussion. I can manufacture growth through human means (marketing, concert type services, my charisma as Pastor) or it can be the kind of growth where the church is being added to those that are not saved as in the book of Acts. As the return of Christ approaches we need to be more concerned with organic growth as I would call it...that is the growth that comes from unsaved people coming into the church because we as believers are gathering the harvest and are a viable witness to the gospel. The growth that we are seeing in the American church today is nothing more than a reshuffling of the deck. Believer A leaves Church A and goes to church B because he says that he has grown and is not learning anymore. Forget the fact that God calls the mature believers to be there to help immature believers grow...he is just looking for the next fad...so he moves on. Or there is some conflict between believer A and believer B but instead of reconciling their differences as mentioned in Matthew one leaves the church and goes to another. Or even better, mega church down the block has a charismatic pastor that preaches a waterdown gospel that tickeles the ears or even a universal gospel that says there is no hell. This is happening in countless churches across America today. I can almost guarantee you that most of the churches where the true Gospel is being preached Sunday after Sunday are the churches with a plurality of leadership i.e. not one superstar preacher, are small or midsize, more community and family oriented, and where believers are obedient to the word...most of the churches in this country are small to midsize....some 90 of Pastors are pastors who preach the inerrant word of God week after week...so lets not lay blame on the Pastor and elders of small churches that preach their hearts out week after week...I would refrain from criticizing them just because they have not adopted some new age gospel that appeals to the masses and produces superficial Christians that are spineless in their faith.....now please understand that I am NOT insinuating that all big churches fits this description, but that exactly my point lets not assume anything about big OR small churches...lets just pray that the church is added those that will become saved so that the lost can come to know Christ.
Jamel Salter avatar
Jamel Salter
0 days ago
I have become weary of the proverbial "God is doing something great at this church" being used to explain numerical growth....when a church is growing by way of the lost becoming saved, healed, and growing...then I will agree that God is doing something..but if growth comes from reshuffling the deck i.e. believers leaving one church to join another then I would beg to differ
Charles Wallis avatar
Charles Wallis
0 days ago
I appreciate Perry Noble and his insight, and it seems something great is happening there. But the Bible also tells us some will fall away. The church grew in the NT because of intense persecution - not because they were well liked. Still every time I hear about how big some church is and how packed the service is, I wonder what we are doing wrong. But I still wonder how God must feel about a pastor no one ever heard of serving a small congregation for little or nothing for his whole life? Yet I still desire growth, just don't want it for the wrong reasons - not so I can boast, but so lost people come into the Kingdom. And I am pretty sure Perry feels the same way (and even the NT reported numbers 3,000 saved in one day!)
Jamel Salter avatar
Jamel Salter
0 days ago
I have become weary of the proverbial "God is doing something great at this church" being used to explain numerical growth....when a church is growing by way of the lost becoming saved, healed, and growing...then I will agree that God is doing something..but if growth comes from reshuffling the deck i.e. believers leaving one church to join another then I would beg to differ
Walter Swaim avatar
Walter Swaim
0 days ago
"NOWHERE in the Scriptures did God ever ask anyone to do anything that didn?t involve an ?oh crap? moment" - this is just fall down funny, and true.
Tony Mckeown avatar
Tony Mckeown
0 days ago
Some interesting observations, but I would say the number one reason that some churches don't grow is, "they don't want to!" There has to be a culture of willingness to change (or dying to self interests). It costs people to grow and reproduce in others and in my experience, people don't like change. Oh sure we like the change that changes others, but not the change that changes us. Growth is a by-product of life, although activity is not always a sign of life. Good thoughts, but sadly there is no one formula that fits all.... which is why we have so many expressions of Christ in the body. The number one element in growing a Church, is The presence of and leading of The Holy Spirit, all else is secondary. Blessings
Tim Morgan avatar
Tim Morgan
0 days ago
Glancing at the first point, shouldn't the vision for every church be the same? As a pastor my vision is simple: make disciples and equip the saints...how I do that is up to the Lord, he uses each of our talents and gifts to make that happen. Maybe its because I'm a small church pastor, but sometimes I feel that the mega church mindset is to have an overwhelming impressive vision....makes me feel a bit threatened, although I shouldn't.
Joe Mckeever avatar
Joe Mckeever
0 days ago
Some very good points there, and no disagreement with any. However, wouldn't you agree that there are some intangibles involved here. You can have a pastor who is trying his hardest to do all these things, and it's not working. Perhaps he just doesn't have the touch--that's the only way I know to say it--or the leadership of the church is just "not there." I've written these articles on "why small churches tend to stay small," and they get reproduced and all that, but at the end of the day, we're still missing something that is stunting growth and I'm not sure what it is. Blessings, Brother Perry.
Michael West avatar
Michael West
0 days ago
I agree in what Brother Perry has to say these are good reasons why churches don't grow. The question is can a pastor who has a mega church is he able to minster to the body or does the sheep get lost in the shuffle.I have minstered in churches of all sizes. I would rather know each person by name.
Donny Yarbrough avatar
Donny Yarbrough
0 days ago
I certainly do not know Brother Perry personally and would never question his heart as a pastor/believer based upon this article because every point is true and Biblically founded. To be honest, as a pastor of a church that averages around 130 or so each Sunday, I used to have the mindset toward larger churches that they had to be doing something superficial, something entertaining, etc. to be growing like they were. While that is certainly true of some larger/mega churches it is not the case with all of them. What God has revealed to me is that many churches are growing and thriving, (salvations, baptisms, new members, discipleship), because they are doing things the early church, NT way. The early church followed the GC, the highways and hedges charge, the Acts 1:8 challenge, sacrificially gave of themselves for the furtherance of the Gospel and sharing of the love of Christ, prayed regularly, and I could go on and on but the end result was the God added to the church!!! It becomes very clear that the men who ministered the Word as pastors/elders were equipping believers to do the work of the ministry or the church would not have grown as it did. When God led our church into truly applying the basic principles of church growth and discipleship found in the NT we too saw tremendous results in salvations, baptisms, new membership, and discipleship and have practically doubles in worship attendance in less than two years! You see, I have found that although I may not agree with the doctrine/beliefs of all big churches, many, not all, are growing because the "numbers" reflect God blessing what they are doing in reaching the lost and making disciples! From what I have observed of Brother Perry's church, it seems as though they are doing their very best in trying to move people from lostness to salvation, from milk to meat, from self-serving to selflessly and sacrifically serving others according to the gifts that God has given them and that is what equipping the saints for the work of the ministry is about! I know that the prayer and desire of my heart and thanks be unto God for what He has accomplished! Let's remain committed to what matters most to God and we will find that the problem was never the harvest (numbers of souls to be reached and discipled) but the problem was in the lack of laborers willing to do whatever it took to reach them! May God bless you all and encourage you daily in the great work you do for Him!!!
Luis A. Rivera avatar
Luis A. Rivera
0 days ago
To add to Tim's comment regarding Perry Noble's 1st point: 'The Vision Is Not Clear': Well, the Bible is certainly clear - it's HIS church, the Church of Jesus Christ and NOT the pastor's. Jesus has given us His vision for His church, i.e., to "make disciples...". No where in the N.T. is there mention or instruction given to pastors regarding a vision for a local church. Rather than devising a vision, let's ask God to give us wisdom to carry out His vision.
Donny Yarbrough avatar
Donny Yarbrough
0 days ago
Wonderful discussion concerning the "vision" for a church. Of course, the ultimate vision from the Lord for any NT church is to fulfill His Commission and it's the pastor's responsibility to help equip the people to do such. I cannot speak for Brother Perry, but I know that the vision statement of our church expresses the way we feel God desires for us to accomplish His overall purpose or vision in us reaching the lost and making disciples! God has placed that vision deep within my heart and and I have to do my very best, through prayer and God's power, to help our people see how God wants to accomplish His Vision. I do believe that He places that vision or long term potential into the heart of the pastor and any effective leader must be able to communicate it clearly to the people. I believe that's the vision Brother Perry is referring to and I know that's the vision I desire to cast to our people. The vision that allows us and to see God's plan for man come to pass through our local church. Jesus in John 14 had to cast a vision of heaven for the disciples in a much troubled time for them so they would be encouraged and continue to do the work of the Gospel. John even casts for us a vision of the New Jerusalem so that we can find hope and encouragement in this present life to remain faithful knowing that better things await those who belong to Christ! That's what I gathered from point one and I know it is difficult for a church to move forward to accomplish God's Vision if their vision or purpose is not clear as to how they will do such!
Iain Hanson avatar
Iain Hanson
0 days ago
Thank you Perry for your insightful comments. I particularly agree with your thoughts on the lack of prayer. But it seems to me the 1st equal point with this is the lack of faithful, bold, clear preaching of God's word. God gives the growth and the Lord Jesus Christ build's His church. And I firmly believe that He does this through the preaching the word, in season and out of season, correcting, rebukeing and encouraging, with great patience and careful instruction. This may seem obvious, but if we don't say it, we'll forget it. Thanks again
Dav Ross avatar
Dav Ross
0 days ago
There's a lot of really unedifying hate in some of these comments. That's just what the church needs.
Keith  B avatar
Keith B
0 days ago
Where? What comments do you mean specifically?

So, what did you think?

Thank you.