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Seven Characteristics of Growing Churches

Updated on January 15, 2010

What is the magic formula to make a church grow in attendance? Is it a dynamic preacher? An awesome awe inspiring worship band? Is it state-of-the-art facilities? No, not necessarily. There are many churches that have these things, but still have low attendance. Indeed, there is no magic formula except the will of the Almighty Living God and the movement of his Spirit. It is by the Lord's sovereign will that one church reaches tens or perhaps hundreds and others touch thousands.

Still, church leaders of both large and small congregations have a responsibility to faithfully serve those whom God has given them. And, there are some characteristics common to churches that grow beyond the normal 100 to 200 members/attenders. This hub looks at seven characteristics that typify growing churches that honor God.

Growing Churches are Grounded in a Consistent Vision and Message

The first characteristic of a growing church is that church leadership formulates and dissimenates a consistent vision and message. When church leaders define and consistently communicate a clear cut vision and message, the people of the congregation will in turn internalize the message and over time will live it out. However, when the vision is not communicated or is constantly changing people become disoriented and uncomfortable. This is not to say that the core vision and message of the church will not shift every once in a long while; of course it will. But when the church leaders formulate and live out a consistent message then the people will feel more comfortable and stick around.

Growing Churches Passionately Preach the Word of God

The second characteristic to a growing church is the preachers and teachers are passionate about the the Word of God. They preach the Bible and are not ashamed of it. Of course, this characteristic is tied to the first one. For any message a church formulates should be founded on the Word of God. And, it does not matter much if the preachers and or teachers are eloquent speakers. It matters that they are passionate and sincerely believe what the Bible says with all their hearts.

Growing Churches Love to Celebrate God's Presence through Worship

A third characteristic common to growing churches is that they love to celebrate God's presence through inspiring and intimate worship. Like KIng David before the ark of God, leaders of growing churches yearn to bring their congregations into the glorious presence of God. They want them to know the deepest intimacy with their Lord and Savior both in the assembly and when they walk in the affairs of every day life. Like Moses stepping out of the Tent of Meeting; their faces glow from the glory of God resting in their souls. Members of growing churches love to celebrate the presence of the Living God in their lives.

Growing Churches Fellowship in Small Groups

A fourth tip to church growth is that growing churches fellowship in small groups. Leaders and lay people alike need to gather in small groups to pray and encourage one another. They meet in small groups to help one another keep the fire in their hearts burning bright. Life is full of ups and downs and each member of the church needs a safehaven of fellowship where he or she can enter into each week to share their joys annd sorrows. Sometimes the big assembly can be overwhelming and impersonal. In small groups, members of the congregation can become grounded and made to feel like a person who matters.

Growing Churches Quickly Assimilate Newcomers

A fifth characteristic of growing churches is that they are friendly to outsiders and quickly assimilate them into the church body. Church leaders love newcomers. They have a passion to reach everyone for Christ. They want everyone in the neighborhood to find faith in the Lord and loving fellowship in the body of Christ. Leaders of growing churches recognize that the Lord has uniquely fashioned each person with special gifts and abilities to share in the life and work of the church. Growing churches quickly assimilate newcomers.

Growing Churches Keep Their Leaders Accountable in Personal Life and Ministry

In the 1990s, Yorba Linda Friends Church in Yorba Linda, California was one of the fastest growing churches in Southern California. They went from less than 200 in 1985 to close to 6000 in 2001. One of the practices of the church staff and leadership was to write personal and ministry growth goals each year. Throughout the year, the executive pastor would conference with each staff member to see how they were progressing in their goals. Of course, it was all done in grace and love. Growing churches keep their leaders accountable to keep growing in personal character and ministry skills.

Growing Churches Take the Great Commission Seriously

A seventh characteristic of growing churches is that they take the great commission of Jesus Christ seriously. Before Jesus ascended into heaven, he commissioned his disciples to go out into the world and share the message of Jesus Christ with everyone from every tribe and nation. Nearly every church gives lip service to this concept, but growing churches live it out every day. They get out and love on people even if those people reject them and the message of Jesus.

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    • Hannah David Cini profile image

      Hannah David Cini 

      3 years ago from Nottingham

      Great hub. I think that discipleship of ne converts is one of the main things that really helps the growth to last.

    • profile image

      David Ramses 

      6 years ago

      Thanks Ecoggins. I am looking for a job in California. If I can manage to get one I will be sure to check out your church. I have heard California people are more accepting in general. I currently live in the bible belt where judgment day is every day! Lol thanks and God bless you.

    • ecoggins profile imageAUTHOR

      ecoggins 

      6 years ago from Corona, California

      David. Thank you for sharing your insights and observations. You are right when you say the Bible is our best guide for a life plan. I am sorry that you have not found a church that is accepting of the people you describe. None of the churches I have attended in the last 30 years (6 in all) would have rejected a person because he gave his tithe money to a homeless person. I admit some of the attendees of those churches would think twice about the guy covered in tattoos. Still, they would not reject him either. If you live in the Los Angeles area, check out the Basement Church in Long Beach. It meets after 5pm at First Friends Church Long Beach on the corner of 9th and Atlantic. Again, I appreciate your post. All the Lord's best to you in everything, e.

    • profile image

      David Ramses 

      6 years ago

      Pilgrimboy,

      One good resource would be the bible. In fact, it sets your spiritual goals for you. One thing this article was missing about growing churches is this factor: frequent and emotional sermons that guilt people into donating. Your article paints a great picture but there is no such church. You think church people are good and forgiving? Try getting covered in tattoos and happen to be someone who is attempting to turn their life around. Church people will be the first to reject you. There are wonderful church people out there but they are all true believers and they are rare. Think you are a true believer? Ok. Then go give your paycheck to a homeless person and don't tell anyone about it. Then tell the homeless person about Christ and your church. Then invite the homeless person to church with you. After all the people there reject the homeless person because of "class consciousness" tell the pastor you don't have the tithe money because you gave it to the homeless person. Then you will be rejected by the church itself. Jesus said, "the kingdom of God is in you and all around you." the only church that exists is in the hearts of people. The only religion God recognizes is "giving to the poor and caring for widows." -so says the Bible. Most churches are not poor so don't give to them, Jesus didn't. He sought out the poor, needy, weak, tired, helpless, addicted, lost sinners and gave to them. The church persecuted Him for it. The most effective church would be the one that consisted of a congregation of poor people who are poor because they gave everything that was excess to people who needed it more than they did. God bless you all.

    • ecoggins profile imageAUTHOR

      ecoggins 

      6 years ago from Corona, California

      Michael, I praise the Lord that you found this article helpful. The Lord bless you.

    • profile image

      michael 

      6 years ago

      am so greatful to you sir for this post here it helped me in the writing a theological paper church growth may the Lord bless.....

    • ecoggins profile imageAUTHOR

      ecoggins 

      6 years ago from Corona, California

      ebrew, you ask a great question. Unfortunately, there is no one best way to raise the commitment level of a given congregation. The best way is to establish a vision consistent with the Bible, model the vision, patiently and enthusiastically walk among the people and persistently pray. In most cases, members of a congregation cannot be chided into transformation and all out commitment. The only true transformation is the kind carried out by the Holy Spirit.

    • profile image

      ebrew 

      6 years ago

      how does one get the kind of commitment level you are speaking about?

    • ecoggins profile imageAUTHOR

      ecoggins 

      7 years ago from Corona, California

      Thanks Ann for your input. I appreciate your point of view, but I have known plenty of churches that have grown with genuine spiritual and numerical growth without anyone speaking in tongues.

    • profile image

      Ann 

      7 years ago

      Church growth will only come when Christians experience another Pentecost - the Baptism of the Holy Spirit with the speaking in tongues. Acts 2, 1-4. Fasting and praying that the God will bless believers with the Baptism will bring power (the anointing) to that church.

    • ecoggins profile imageAUTHOR

      ecoggins 

      7 years ago from Corona, California

      minakey, I am pleased that you found this helpful. I apologize for not responding sooner to your encouraging note. I pray the Lord will bless you mightily.

    • profile image

      minakay 

      7 years ago

      Thanks, ecoggins. We need this message more often. I wrote a hub on how to revive a dying Church and while searching about Growing Churches, I found your hub. Thanks for sharing this - it's a great help.

    • ecoggins profile imageAUTHOR

      ecoggins 

      8 years ago from Corona, California

      Hi pilgrimboy, you ask an excellent question about resources on setting spiritual growth goals. I cannot say I know any specific ones off the top of my head. However, Renovare has tremendous resources for Christian spiritual formation including guides for growing in the practice of spiritual disciplines like prayer, study, fasting, and the like. Dallas Willard and Richard Foster who are co-founders of the Renovare group each have good books on spiritual growth through spiritual formation.

    • pilgrimboy profile image

      Regan Clem 

      8 years ago from Ohio

      Great hub.

      Do you know of any good resources on setting personal spiritual growth goals?

      And thanks for the great hub.

    • ecoggins profile imageAUTHOR

      ecoggins 

      8 years ago from Corona, California

      Destined to Win, Thank you for your encouraging and insightful comments. Indeed, when people know and understand the mission, the message, and the mandate they will be caught up in that mission and lose themselves in it. The biggest problem in the church today is the same as it was in the days of Solomon and Ahab after him. The people are distracted by a whole host of "good" activities which takes them away from the mission, message, and mandate of the church.

    • Destined To Win profile image

      Destined To Win 

      8 years ago

      Thanks for this super hub on church growth. Your points are well taken. The assimilation factor for newcomers is one that we are working on even now. I have to agree with both you and Ken on the "human factor." The potential to interrupt and slow down the process is an important concern. That being said if we know and understand the mission, the message and the mandate we can most assuredly experience the growth you were speaking of.

      Thanks again. Very helpful.

    • ecoggins profile imageAUTHOR

      ecoggins 

      8 years ago from Corona, California

      Ken. Thank you for your thoughtful comments. Unfortunately, I have to agree with you. The human factor can interrupt church growth. It has been said that ministry would be easy if it wasn't for the people. This is especially so when a congregation loses its outward focus. Once the eyes of the people turn inward, church life can be very trying. Beyond mere survival, giving them a vision and message they can rally around can make the difference.

    • Ken R. Abell profile image

      Ken R. Abell 

      8 years ago from ON THE ROAD

      Good information. All true. I have found that the one flaw in it all is the human factor; people, even redeemed & intentional, are people. We find endless ways to slow, derail or stop church growth; seldom deliberately, just as a direct result of human nature.

      Yet, we are called to be part of Christ's supernatural building project of building HIS church, so we must faithfully attempt to apply these principles you have laid out so well here. Thank you for doing so.

    • ecoggins profile imageAUTHOR

      ecoggins 

      8 years ago from Corona, California

      peacenhim and RevLady, thank you both for your kind comments. A pastor friend who has since gone to be with the Lord used to say, "the Lord blesses the church that gets outside itself." He was a genuinely sincere servant of God whom the Lord used mightily to touch many souls.

    • RevLady profile image

      RevLady 

      8 years ago from Lantana, Florida

      "growing churches live it out every day. They get out and love on people even if those people reject them and the message of Jesus."

      This is a nice hub that I am in agreement with. I think the effective church ministry is not confined behind walls, but out in the community influencing souls. For too long church has done little to positively impact "the real world" for the sake of the gospel.

      Forever His,

    • profile image

      peacenhim 

      8 years ago

      Great message!! I believe many churches get so caught up in doctrine and denomination, and do not truly express the Great Commission and end up quenching the Holy Spirit. This is why many of these type of churches never grow. Thanks for sharing!! Blessings.

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