5 Reasons Your Church May Not Be Growing

Paying attention to your church attendance is important for many reasons, but obviously it can be incredibly frustrating at times. Unless your church just happens to be exploding in attendance right now, the majority of churches struggle to grow their attendance – especially as church plants. Growing a church is a slow process, and while the chances are high that your ministry will expand just fine in the future, almost every pastor can attest to going through “valley seasons” where church attendance feels stagnant.

If that’s where you’re at, you’re not alone. While there are going to be valley seasons from time to time, there are often identifiable reasons why your church may not be growing.

5 Reasons Your Church May Not Be Growing

5 reasons probably isn’t enough, because church growth is related to so many factors. There really isn’t an easy answer as to why your church may not be growing, as everyone’s situation will be unique. However, there are several overarching trends that seem to be more popular than others, and applicable to churches of all sizes and in all locations.

Here is a short list of some of the more common reasons your church attendance may not be growing:

1) Internal Conflict

This is especially true in small church startups. Have you ever watched family members get into heated debates about politics or religion at a holiday get-together? Or even just sensed that tension between members of your family? You know how uncomfortable that is. And you can bet that if it’s happening in your ministry amongst leaders/staff, the congregation feels it. The smaller your church, the more affected your congregation generally will be.

If you’re having trouble growing your church, and you also have a significant or notable amount of conflict going on among leadership and/or staff, we can make a guess with pretty high certainty that it’s not a coincidence.

2) Quality of Worship

As you might imagine, quality of worship has a major impact on attendance at a church. To many families, worship music is an important aspect of a church service, and while they are heavily considering other factors such as who the lead pastor is, denomination of the church, sermon topics, length of service, location of the church, and many more, the music is often a key element in deciding what church to go to.

If the quality of worship at your church is lacking, it may be a reason that your attendance is struggling. If you’re a small church or church plant and haven’t yet gotten an official worship pastor, we’d recommend you find someone consistent! If you offer it as an internship, there are often plenty of worship ministry college students who are looking for a church to help out. The consistency of having the same person leading worship every Sunday who’s passionate about quality music makes a huge difference.

3) Atmosphere

For many small churches, atmosphere is only controllable to a certain extent. There may always be things that are out of your control. If you’re meeting in a high school, movie theater, or other building, you’re at the mercy of what the space has to offer – but only to an extent.

Atmosphere is super important. People want to go to a church that feels welcoming. And while every single pastor and church on planet earth “thinks” that their church has a welcoming atmosphere, that’s not always the case. Spend some time creating an inviting and comforting church atmosphere.

Invest some funds in a nice lighting setup, coffee station, signs, booths, etc. Get people to volunteer as greeters. Have people in the parking lot directing traffic if necessary, or directing people to the right door. Essentially, focus on improving the experience from the parking lot to the seat and back to the parking lot in any way that’s within your means!

4) Leadership Teams

If leadership at a church feels disjointed, unequipped, or simply inadequate, congregation members won’t stick around. People want to feel like they are following great leaders, and that means in every section of your ministry.

There are always certain people in a group who are naturally amazing leaders. Identify those people in your ministry. Who has a heart for people? Who are people naturally drawing their attention to? Who are they listening to? You want to get as many high-quality natural leaders as possible in places of leadership within your church.

5) Failing to Fuel Growth Opportunities

There are several factors that contribute to a church’s opportunity to grow. If you are meeting on a Christian college campus with a predominately young audience, the opportunity to grow is much higher than if you are a small church in a very rural area. Growth is never impossible, but the point is that the demographics of your attenders and location of your building will uniquely craft where your church’s strengths and opportunities for growth are.

If you’re in an area with a high population of young adults, are you investing money and time in your young adult ministry? Or are they being left on their own? While we all would like to either put an equal amount of focus on all ministries, or solely focus on your own ministry, that may not be the best action for growing your church.

Chris Fleming, Author

About the Author

Chris Fleming is a professional musician from Minneapolis, MN who has played with artists such as Big Daddy Weave and Jason Gray. He is actively involved with the CCM worship scene and has contributed as a drummer, music director, song writer, and producer for various worship artists and churches locally and nationally. Chris serves as the Creative Director at Motion Worship, helping to write various blog posts and tutorials on production, stage, Ableton, music, design, and tons of other topics.

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