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How to Grow a Church by 10%

Updated: Feb 22


Becoming blind to the way things are


We have an incredible ability as humans to fail to see. Whether that is to become blind to some of the less helpful aspects of our society or culture, or to have insight into our family of origin - aspects that are more healthy and those that are less helpful, or what we need to do to improve our health. We get used to the way things are. We get busy and don't take the time to step back and reflect.

Sometimes we get jolted to attention: we travel and appreciate the ways in which other cultures are more communal, or our doctor gives us 5 years to live unless we lose 10kg, or we start attending a different church and realise we had grown used to problems in our previous church.

We need to take an outside, long, reflective look. And to listen to what God may be saying in that.


Opening our eyes


There are often ways in which we have moments of insight. We read a book and say, "I must do that." Or attend a conference and come away inspired. An honest conversation. But I contend that all three of those aspects need to be present: it must be an outside look, because we can so easily become blind to both what the issues are and how to tackle them; it must be a long look because a quick glance or experience doesn't result in lasting change; and it must be a reflective look because only depth of insight into why and how we currently do things can result in sutained transformation.

In pastoral ministry this can best be achieved in two ways.

  1. A Supervisor/Mentor/Coach who helps us reflect deeply

The first way that churches grow is for a pastor to have a supervisor/mentor/coach who will enable them to reflect on how they and their church are functioning. Preferably a supervisor/mentor/coach with demonstrated experience in growing a church, because research indicates that a church revitalisation is twice as fast with a mentor who has experience in revitalisation. I have drawn on my own experience of revitalising multiple churches in decline in consulting with other churches and those I mentor. This has included coaching around conflict, working with leaders, being separate yet connected, and knowing a healthy pace of change that is neither too fast for those who are resistant, nor too slow for those early adopters who want rapid change now. This is not a cookie-cutter approach, since every church and local community is different. But new insights come through taking an outside, long, reflective look at our current situation.

2. Church Health Coaching

The second way that churches grow is through church health coaching/church consultancy. In my research, published as The Impact of Church Consultancy (Wipf & Stock, 2019), available on my website and elsewhere. Half of the churches in my sample were receiving a subsidy because of their ministry and financial viability. Five years later, 70% of the churches that had a consultancy had grown, one by 65%. The average growth of these churches was 9.7% over the five years post-consultancy, which was fourteen times the average growth of all churches in the denomination! These results give some scope for asserting that a church consultancy can be an important factor in assisting most churches toward a pathway to growth, to greater vitality/health, and to reaching more people in our local community with the Gospel.


Yes we are busy. I am not talking about doing more of the same things faster, until we implode under the weight of that. But doing different things in different ways. Like a sports coach might take apart our swing/kick/etc and rebuild it anew. We know that at least some of what we are doing is not working effectively. We need to take an outside, long, reflective look.


If you are interseted in finding out more about how I can help you achieve your goals, click on this link for supervision/mentoring, and this for church consultancy.


© 2024 Ian Duncum. All rights reserved. No reproduction without written permission.

Rev Dr Ian Duncum is a trained and accredited (with John Mark Ministries) church consultant with over 20 years experience of working with non-profit enterprises and churches across a number of denominations. This has also included denominational leadership in church health and development and church research in the tertiary education sector. An accredited minister with a track record of growing churches, Ian also trains church consultants, facilitates training for ministers and leaders, and mentors/supervises pastors and other leaders. He can be contacted at www.ianduncum.com.au or duncum@internode.on.net



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