Reasons Churches Become Insider-Focused


New churches don’t grow as a result of being insider-focused. The reason church plants often gain so much momentum in the early stages is due to an ambition to reach others for Christ. When a church first starts, everyone understands it’s time to kick everything into full throttle and focus on the community around you.

But somewhere along the way, many churches start focusing inwardly on taking care of the community they already have. And while that’s certainly important in many regards, it often leads them further from their mission to reach others for Christ and creates confusion as to why the church isn’t growing. This is what we refer to as a church that has become “insider-focused.”

Here are several reasons why churches become insider-focused in their journey:

Avoiding Risks

We get it – the very nature of taking risks implies uncertainty in outcomes, and as your church grows more and more, you become increasingly concerned about preserving and protecting what you already have. However, risks are the only way the church really grows. By doing nothing, nothing changes.

It’s common that somewhere during their journey, once a church is able to sustain themselves they become focused on taking care of insiders – stakeholders such as employees, elders, and certain congregants. Subsequently, growth stagnates. As focus is placed on keeping everyone safe and secure on the inside, less focus is placed on taking the necessary risks to continue reaching others who aren’t already involved.

Resisting Change

Embracing new ideas and changes is almost always the solution to stay at the forefront in your race to continue developing and growing your church in the community around you. Unfortunately, after it works once or twice, churches often settle into old ways and resist making necessary changes to continue growing. The result is that the church gets “stuck” and is only capable of focusing inwardly on their own stakeholders and congregants, and the church is no longer focused on their accessibility or attractiveness to newcomers.

Misunderstanding Strategic Planning

Plans are important – they help us all see the common goal we’re working towards. And in ministry, it’s very important that everyone is on the same page when attempting to accomplish their mission. But that’s where churches often get confused.

Strategic planning is not a means to avoid chaos or create perfect “order” – the overarching purpose of strategic planning should be to document and track how you’re going to accomplish your church’s mission. When strategic planning becomes about “order” and trumps movement, that’s when you’re at risk to become insider-focused.

No Vision

Having a clear vision is the most important tool for trajectory, growth, and movement in a church. Without vision guiding out every move, we’re wired to focus inwardly on ourselves and our immediate community.

A vision has to be pointed towards the care of others – taking care of your community, spreading the word, getting people involved, and being a part of the world you are seeking to change. A vision needs to be clear and forefront in the mind of you and your entire staff if you want to grow. A lack of vision is one of the greatest reasons churches become insider-focused.

It’s never too late to rework your church’s vision if it’s needed. Do whatever you need to ensure a vision focused on growth is driving your various ministries’ decisions and the actions they’re taking. You don’t need to abandon taking care of your current congregation to focus outwardly, but you should assess the ratio of actions your church has taken and how many have been focused inwardly vs. outwardly. It’s common that assessment will reveal a drastic imbalance between the two.

Chris Fleming, Author

About the Author

Chris Fleming is a professional musician from Minneapolis, MN who has played with artists such as TAYA, Big Daddy Weave, and Jason Gray. He is actively involved with the worship music scene and has contributed as a drummer, music director, song writer, and producer for various worship artists and churches locally and nationally. Chris is the Motion Designer at Motion Worship, helping to create motion background collections and countdowns for our subscribers.

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