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Have you ever wondered why your church may not be growing as much as it did in years gone by? In the preface to the book Multiplication Moves, author Rich Devos suggests an answer to that question. He states that the typical church follows a cycle. He describes four progressive stages or cycles of a church.
The Building Stage This is an exciting and challenging time of creating something from nothing and inspiring growth. It is a time to reach out to people in the area, encouraging them to be part of a new church in the community.
The Managing Stage The church moves into this stage after achieving some success. More energy is focused on internal matters like finances, budget, staffing, titles, offices, and musicians. Much more time is spent in the office, so people must come to you to receive help with personal problems. As a result, growth tends to slow down.
The Defending Stage Once a church moves into this stage, the primary concern becomes justifying what has been gained, and staying busy with staffing, counseling, visiting the sick and conducting funerals. The church spends more time feeding the flock and little time reaching new converts.
The Blaming Stage Just at it sounds, this is the stage where members are bickering among themselves, blaming others for the lack of church growth. They have forgotten what it’s like to be out there creating and building from nothing. At this stage the focus of the members has turned inward and defending the lack of growth becomes much more personal.
The overall principle with each successive stage is that more energy is spent on maintenance issues, rather than reaching and maturing followers of Christ. Once a church moves into the Blaming Stage their destiny will be death, unless something radical happens.
The question then remains, what can a church do to make it back to the Building Stage? Some would suggest that the solution is to find a new pastor. After several new pastors have come and gone with little success, the church needs to understand that is not the solution. Some would suggest that the solution would be more programs. While this may produce some success over time, the church membership remains the same.
In order for sustained growth to be achieved, there must be a re-visioning process that takes place. This process would require a serious look at the current situation. Devos suggests the following steps:
Once the church has an understanding of their community, the gifts and talents of the church members, and the passion of their leadership, they will rediscover why they were placed within a certain community. This exercise will start them down a path toward a revitalized church. If the church continues the journey they will be able to move back into the Building Stage, reaching their community for Christ.
For more information about how our association can help with this process, contact the DBA office 940-498-5200 or Morgan Malone. Together let’s reach our communities with the Gospel message.