I got this question a few times recently…
As a “pastorprenuer” I was excited to get this questions from multiple people recently. Growth is important. For churches, both qualitative and quantitative growth matters. People should grow personally and spiritually as a result of participation with a church. But also, the church should grow organizationally.
One person asking is themselves a local entrepreneur. They are a leader of leaders and their question was coming from a wonderful place. They want to see us thrive as an organization. At least that’s the impression I got in the conversation.
Growth as a church means different things to different churches. For some, Sunday service numbers is their metric. For others real growth is measured in baptisms or small groups or outreach volunteers. Still others measure finances received and given. I know churches that measure their “size” by who shows up on Easter of Christmas.
I don’t begrudge anyone’s metric. Each is valid and I’m sure leads back to something well-intentioned. I’ve heard pastors and church leaders say, “Every number represents a person, and every person’s story matters.” I think I got that right or at least close.
As a leader I’m concerned with our growth not our survival. Survival mode isn’t interesting to me. If we were falling apart organizationally, maybe we needed to be. We’re not. That’s not what this post is about. This is about growth. And specifically our growth plan at Downtown Faith.
So, what is our growth plan?
I love having this conversation and I’m having it more frequently lately. Maybe it’s because we are in year three and feeling established to some. Maybe it’s because people want to help or are at least interested in how a church grows. Our growth plan is simple…
- As downtown goes, so goes Downtown Faith. Meaning, we are aligning our growth plan with the city’s.
- Addition through multiplication. We aren’t interested in “blowing the doors off” of one time/location. We want multiple times in multiple locations.
- More than one kind of conversation. Along with multiple times and locations, we want various styles of conversations with diverse groups. We have our eye on unique spaces for each revitalizing district of downtown.
Our vision goes beyond this but for now, this is it. It seems simple and it really is. That’s what we want. We aren’t out to grow a huge staff or have our fingers in everything going on. We want to create discussion spaces in downtown. Different kinds of spaces for different kinds of people. Ultimately, we want to build a bigger table!
The thing about organizational growth is it’s largely universal. You’ve got to innovate, sure. You must be forward thinking. You need a plan. It takes vision and purpose. It expands your influence. But underneath all of these things is one basic fundamental…
Organizational growth cannot happen without two things, money and people.
This does look different for every organization. A business needs customers. Repeat customers. It needs employees. Different types of employees at different times. A school needs students and teachers and a budget. Nonprofits need volunteers and donors. Things just don’t happen without money and people.
This is why the show Shark Tank is so interesting. People are pitching an idea, product, process, or invention to a panel of people who can get them more money and/or people. To grow anything that matters to a community you need more of both. But not necessarily at the same time. Some times you need more money and other times you need more people.
Honestly, Downtown Faith could use a little more of both. Last year we were at a point financially where we could’ve started new things in a new district, but we lost committed people for one reason or another. Most of the time life changes pull volunteer leaders away unwittingly or unwillingly. Things change and we have to go with the flow.
It takes patience and grace to lead in these moments.
I’m the type of person who moves too fast at times and I feel our journey teaching me the slow-go, long game approach. I want to be around a long time so I have to take my time. Also, I’m feeling myself relying on God more. God will send the money and people in time. My job isn’t to force things. It’s to lead people.
I don’t write this to pressure people to “get on board” financially or through leadership. I write this to share our story. We are at a time in our story where we have real growing pains. I love being vulnerable about them. I love telling our story. We are a healthy organization of broken, growing people.
One day we will look back and celebrate what God is doing in us, through us, and around us. All I can do is continue inviting people to…JOIN THE DISCUSSION!