When People Leaving Is Good

I love growth. I’m excited and encouraged when new people join our church. I am even more excited when they stay. I find it hard to say goodbye or to let go. When you have a small congregation (and the structure of what we have done in Bearwood means that we have a cluster of small congregations) it is painful and maybe discouraging when people leave. It can even be frightening. We don’t have a guaranteed steady pipeline of new people coming to fill the gaps.

Yet, there are sometimes good reasons why people leave. I’ve hinted and mentioned these in previous posts. Recently, I did some analysis about why/how people come and join us but I also included some analysis on why people leave.

Here are three good reasons for people to leave: Continue reading

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When Church growth is bad

In Acts 20, Paul meets with the elders of the Ephesian church. He says these words to them:

28 “So guard yourselves and God’s people. Feed and shepherd God’s flock—his church, purchased with his own blood[h]—over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as leaders.[i] 29 I know that false teachers, like vicious wolves, will come in among you after I leave, not sparing the flock. 30 Even some men from your own group will rise up and distort the truth in order to draw a following. 31 Watch out! Remember the three years I was with you—my constant watch and care over you night and day, and my many tears for you.”[1] Continue reading

Growth, fruitfulness and pruning

You hear some talks about church leadership and you get the impression that church life is meant to be about continuous exponential growth.

You read some church websites and you get the impression that if your website doesn’t begin with “We are a lively, growing church” then there’s something wrong with you.

We’ve experienced times when our local church has been growing, those times have been encouraging but it’s not always like that. I’ve seen/heard people describing Bearwood Chapel as a growing church and thought “I wish that was the case” because at that point, we’ve actually been plateauing or even losing people. We also are aware that there’ve been periods when a lot of new people have turned up but we’ve not seen conversions.

This week, we had a leaders afternoon/evening facilitated by James Hyde from The Church Planting Initiative and he said some very helpful things about this. Continue reading

The last thing we talk about – autopsy of a church

Those of us that are involved in church planting and pastoral ministry love to learn from others.  We are excited to hear about fruitful ministries, stories of churches planted, people setting off into pastoral ministry and conversions and baptisms. Continue reading

The Numbers Game (part 3): What is the data telling you?

One of the biggest problems with numbers and data is that people (in the church and the world) report and react to data without necessarily understanding it. In fact worse than that I’ve seen people not even try to react to it. Continue reading

The Numbers Game (Part 2): Success or faithfulness

In part 1, we saw the dangers in terms of trying to measure how a church is doing in terms of numerical success. But does that mean that we can’t ever really know how things are going?

Tim Keller is very helpful on this. He starts his book “Center Church” by describing how people often try to measure how they are doing as a church by counting conversions, members etc. He says that: Continue reading

The Numbers Game (Part 1)

“How’s your church doing?” They ask you. “In what particular way?” you respond.  Usually, somewhere in the conversation the question will come down to “How many are attending” and whether or not the church is growing.

Actually, there have been plenty of occasions where I’ve had to say honestly that I don’t know.  You see, even the “numbers” and “growth” question is complex.  I’ve noticed that it is normal for blurbs about speakers and websites to describe churches as “growing” and I can’t remember the last time I saw someone advertise their church as “shrinking” or even “plateauing.” Continue reading