Where Do We Grow from Here

No matter the size, age or denomination of our churches, there’s one question we should all be asking. It’s simple yet significant. It applies to your church as a whole, but also individual ministries. It compels you to develop vision and strategy, and keeps you outwardly focused. The answer isn’t a destination, but a milestone. We should never stop asking it.

Where do we grow from here? 

It’s not a question I can answer for you because it’s different for every person and organization. The talents, resources and unique opportunities in front of you will shape your answer. But I’m confident that when we ask, God will respond.

As church leaders, we’re passionate about sharing the gospel with the world. Growth isn’t an option for our mission—it’s a must. It’s not reserved for churches of a certain size or for people with certain resources.

Asking, “Where do we grow from here?” has everything to do with our posture as a church. It assumes growth is possible, so it requires hope and confidence in the future. In fact, the question can be more important than the answer because it elevates our thinking from what is to what could be.

We’re not talking about complicated predictions or planning for the distant future. Sometimes the answer is as practical as looking ahead to the next week or next month. In fact, looking too far out could be a mistake. Instead of a five-year plan, what would a five-week or five-month plan look like? You want something right in front of you that requires action, not just thought.

The Question Remains

Once you’ve addressed your answer to this question, it’s time to ask it again. It deserves a perpetual presence in the leadership culture of your church. No one is off the hook. This is something everyone should be able to do.

And this isn’t just for our organizations—it applies to us as individuals as well. What are we doing to grow as leaders? How are we increasing our capacity? How do we grow in our relationship with Christ?

If you’re not asking the question, it’s going to limit your growth. You might not ask it in the same way, but we all need to be asking a question that resembles it. Where do we grow from here?

What's in your way? 

If we feel like we can’t focus on growth right now, there’s a good chance our reasons are obstacles of perception … and possibly our next steps for growth. Let’s take a look at some common barriers leaders cite as hindering their growth:

  • We can’t handle more growth because we’re already at maximum capacity. Whether you’re struggling with facilities or team limitations, you might be able to find creative ways to stretch your capacity. Could you add volunteers to spread your staff further? Could you add a service at a new time like Saturday or Sunday night? Could you combine the two approaches to divide your staff and volunteers into two teams that cover more services?
  • Our board (or our church) isn’t interested in growth. Instead of accepting this as a limitation, maybe your next steps for growth are to grow the vision of your board or the people of your church.
  • We can’t grow because we don’t have _________________. It’s rare that a lack of resources can stand in the way of growth. We have everything we need to do what God has called us to do. How can you use your constraints as key ingredients for new ideas? If you don’t have equipment you want, can you restructure an experience or process so it isn’t needed? If you don’t have a key team member you’d like to have, are there several team members or volunteers who can carry out pieces of that role?
  • Churches in our city or denomination or area don’t grow beyond this size. Is everyone in your city a follower of Christ? Could you start a new ministry to reach people no one is reaching? Can you launch a new location or plant a church in another town?

Your hurdles may look different, but what’s important is to assume growth is possible. If you’ve been effective at reaching a certain group of people, maybe your path for growth could be to become even better at what you’re good at. Perhaps you should accelerate where you’re seeing momentum. Maybe you simply need to stop some things that aren’t working.

What we've learned:

Growth starts in the here and now. The question isn’t, “When do we grow?” Your point of origin for growth is wherever you are right now—amidst your challenges, with your resources and in your current reality. How do you grow from that reality to a new place? There isn’t one starting line, and you don’t have to wait to reach a certain milestone before you can begin. Nothing is stopping you. It’s a simple question to ask … and keep asking.

This article was originally published by Outreach Magazine. For more articles from Bobby Gruenewald and other leaders, visit Outreach Magazine.

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