This fall a whole lot more people have been hanging around our church on Sunday mornings. It’s been amazing to watch the excitement build around what God is doing here. On paper, our average weekly attendance has grown about twenty percent in the last fifteen months. To put that in perspective, it means one in every five people enjoying our Sunday services today were not there a year and a half ago. There are so many new faces, so many new lives to touch. And we’re just getting started. Woo hoo!
Don’t worry, I know attendance isn’t the holy grail. And that numbers aren’t everything. But I also know North American churches have swallowed some lies about numbers and growth. You can read a blog series I penned about this here:
Our church hasn’t always been this way. For years DCC was declining or at best plateaued. Maybe your church can relate. What we fail to realize is that stagnation inevitably infects the way we think about church, growth, and leadership. Over time, we at DCC adopted ideas and practices to match our lull, not realizing this “management mindset” was actually keeping us from God’s best. Without meaning to, we had embraced an ingrown mentality.
Recently God has been re-awakening a “growth mindset” at DCC—an intentional bent towards growing as a church. Our former growth mindset, so active in DCC’s early days, had become atrophied from lack of use. Now that DCC is growing again, we need to swap out our management mindset for a growth mindset. A growth mindset must exercise five visionary muscles to release it’s God-given power:
- Conviction: “Growth is normal.” Many of Jesus’ parables show that growth and harvest are normal outcomes for diligent planting and watering. Our biblical mandate is to make more disciples, baptize them, and teach them to obey Christ (Matthew 28:18-20). God has given us everything we need to reach out and make a difference in the world.
- Desire: “I want DCC to grow.” A healthy believer reflects the heart of God to reach the world for Christ. A healthy church wants to grow as well, to reach as many people as possible. This desire moves us to pray for the lost and hurting, for opportunities to share love and truth, and for the courage to make the most of every opportunity. I regularly hear stories from DCCers who are awakening to this passion.
- Faith: “We will grow.” As we embrace conviction and godly desire for growth, we start believing it will happen. Faith changes the “if” in our growth conversations to “when.” It moves us to take preemptive action, planning for growth needs related to finances, teams, volunteers, and even practical things like classroom sizes and seating.
- Fruit: “We are growing.” We celebrate every step of faith and progress, giving God the glory. When the rubber meets the road, we learn to welcome structural and practical changes as necessities made inevitable by the growth that is occurring. We wrap our arms around new initiatives, new people, new families, and new relationships. The new thing God is doing begins to eclipse our fears. The Cause becomes more important than our comfort.
- Discernment: “What next?” Growth is messy, so we must continually monitor things like momentum and relational health while holding fast to our mission and values. We stop thinking merely in terms of what we’re doing and begin reflecting on where we’re going. We work hard to improve our programs so they can bear more fruit (John 15:2). We adjust processes and practices as necessary, looking deliberately toward multiplying teams, Life Groups, and even the church itself. In short, we use our growth to create more growth.
So… I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments. Which parts of the growth mindset come naturally to you, and which need some exercise?