9 Church Growth Leverage Points All Church Consultants Need to Know (Part 3 of 3)

by New Church Starts

by Bill Easum Founder of 21st Century Strategies and a Senior Consultant

In the first two parts of this series we talked about six leverage points that serve as catalysts for or limiters of growth in a congregation. In Part 1 we discussed the levers of:

1. A solid community of faith

2. Owned and managed purpose, vision and values

3. Indigenous worship

In Part 2 of this series three more levers were described:

4. A mobilized congregation

5. Redemptive missional opportunities

6. Organized around its DNA 

As we wrap-up our discussion of the leverage points it is important to remember to assess all of these prior to making recommendations. 

7. The Church is Staffed for Growth

Staffing is always related to one of the top five leverage pieces. Staffing involves things like the role staff play in the life of the church and to the ideal paid staff to worshipper ratio. Here are some tips in the area of staffing:

  1. Generalists are no longer needed in a church—it is better to have three part-time specialists focused on their area of expertise rather than have one person covering those same three areas.

  2. What you expect from your staff determines the congregation’s spiritual development. Key question: “Do we want our staff to care for the members first or develop disciples who will be on the road to mission?” Staff should be hired to be equippers and mentors.

  3. The first hire should always be a worship leader. Most churches don’t need a full-time associate pastor until they reach a weekly average of 600 people in attendance in worship.

  4. The pastor’s most important task is getting the right people on the bus in the right seat and growing them to the next level.

  5. The larger a church becomes the more important staffing becomes.

  6. There are some recommended paid staff to worshiper ratios. The more small groups the higher the ratio can go

    1. Declining Churches: 1 staff for every 100 in worship

    2. Growing Churches:  1 staff person for every 150+ in worship 

8. Place and Space Supports Growth

Place is to the 20th century what relationships are to the 21st century. It is important that people with 20th century mindsets understand the new relationship reality. You may have to help the congregation understand the role of the building in its identity. Dying churches love and revere their buildings and need to be reminded that: ”Thou shalt not love thy building more than God.” Thriving churches see the building as a tool.

  1. The use of space is one way to uncover an innovative church

    1. Multiple sites

    2. Church planting centers

  2. Parking is always related to one of the top five leverage pieces and is often overlooked in importance. Parking never helps a church grow, but it can hinder the growth of a church. Uncommitted people will seldom walk more than 600 feet to the door of a church.

  3. The optimum goal is one parking space for every two people on the premise at the peak hour.

  4. Another issue is the friendliness of the parking for non-Christians or unchurched people. You may want to suggest parking lot attendants

  5. The most important aspect of the space is ensuring that everything -- especially worship--is under 80% capacity. That means that if a given space fits 200 people comfortably in worship, when attendance reaches 160, an additional service needs to be added. 

9. Radical Generosity

Finances are seldom an issue in the growth of a church. It is the way their money is being spent that is a hindrance. The more the DNA of radical generosity is embedded, the more radical the giver. Leadership must be trusted and must role model radical generosity. Additionally, the congregation’s mission must be relevant and involve people in hands-on mission. Here are some questions you might ask to assess the generosity in a congregation:

  1. Is the budget 4% of the average household income in the area?

  2. Is the number of pledges increasing?

  3. Do they do a stewardship drive, if so when and how?

A good book to use when money is tight is my book, Ministry in Hard Times. When doing a full-blown consultation, the leverage points are best found by using some kind of diagnostic tool, like The Complete Ministry Audit, to make your assessment more thorough and reportable.

Learn more about the craft of consulting from Bill Easum at the one-day intensive on October 19. It is a part of the requirements for becoming a Path 1 recommended coach and would be good for those of you who are thinking about consulting or actively doing consulting with churches.