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C 3 X P R E S S C O U R S E M A N UA L


C 3 X P R E S S C O U R S E M A N UA L

Church Life Cycle. Diagram A Plateau

Impact/ Growth







It’s safe to say that every new location starter when setting out on their endeavour of starting a new location leaves the starting gate with high hopes and anticipation for growth and expansion. Just as growth is an integral aspect of the Kingdom of God, everything that God is into grows. But even with this anticipation and expectation, there will always be a degree of uncertainty when starting something new, especially a new location. Not all new locations will go through the same process, but there tends to be a general life cycle. Through knowing what to expect we are less likely to be caught off guard and stay planted on the road of developing a healthy and growing new location.

Christian A. Schwarz says, “every church is as unique as a human fingerprint.” 1 Although it has been found over the years of church analysis and

Potential Decline

study, that the standard life cycle of a church is that similar to a bell curve, and this idea now has been commonly adopted by many new location starters. In very basic terms churches typically


go through the following life cycle described in Diagram A.


C 3 X P R E S S C O U R S E M A N UA L

Author and church consultant Aubrey Malphurs

As we look through Acts c

says, “like people, churches have a life cycle. In

key foundations in our pr

general, a church is born, and over time it grows.

for starting a new location

Eventually, it reaches a plateau, and if nothing is done to move it off that plateau, it begins to decline.

“He presented himself

If nothing interrupts the decline, it will die.” 2

suffering by many proofs,

forty days and speaking ab In this section, we are focusing on what to expect

ACTS 1:3 (ESV)

when starting a new location. These expectations are ranging from the areas of preparation, launch,

1. The Lord wants us con

growth, plateau and potential decline. This will


inevitably overlap with church health and church

A foundational unders

growth, but we will wait until later sections to

principles is essential

explore that in more detail. After a process of


accumulating and simplifying the various theories of a church life cycle, diagram A is what we have

“And while staying with the

formulated, and will use as a basis to describe what

depart from Jerusalem, bu

could be expected when starting a new location.

of the Father, which, he sa ACTS 1:4 (ESV)


2. A Jerusalem experien anywhere. This stage of launching a new location is commonly

The home of learning,


ministry is developed





pastors and planters agree that this is an integral

are formed. Jesus com

stage of the whole process.

depart. This word in th

chorizo, 3 which mean



chapter 1, we discover nine

There is a temptation in all of us at some point

reparation and leadership

to separate our hearts or to leave physically


the very place that God has ordained to be our Jerusalem. The second half of the command is

alive to them after his

to wait. Patience is required for the things that

appearing to them during

need to happen to happen.

bout the kingdom of God.” “For John baptised with water, but you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit not many days from

nvinced of His

now.” ACTS 1:5 (ESV)

standing in Kingdom in starting a new

3. Jesus knew a key ingredient in the New Testament church was the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

em he ordered them not to

ut to wait for the promise

aid, “you heard from me;”

“So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by

nce is vital before we go

his own authority.” ACTS 1:6-7 (ESV)

, the place where your and gifts and attitudes

4. We need to know what to focus on and what

mmanded them not to

not to focus on.

he original Greek is

In planting a new location, you don’t have the

ns ‘to separate’ or ‘divide’.

luxury of philosophical meandering. The key


C 3 X P R E S S C O U R S E M A N UA L

1. principles of New Testament church life are

new location. There w

what a church planter needs to have firmly

disciples knew what w

implanted in their heart.

but rather whatever d

were in it together. Th “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has

God and a sense of ob

come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in

what they were being

Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the

doubt that fear and aw

end of the earth.”


ACTS 1:8 (ESV)

In the NIV it says ‘they 2. Jesus immediately redirected their thinking to

constantly.’ Remembe

the focal point – power in you and reaching

birthing stage of the c

the world with it.

be revisited as a new

If this was the key when Jesus was training

church. To be ‘devotin

the disciples, so it should be now. It isn’t

attend constantly.’ In o

only practice but a paradigm that directs our

showing up. The pictu

behaviour, our structures, our programs, and

never left the upper ro

our total church life.

returning to it.

“All these with one accord were devoting themselves

“In those days Peter stoo

to prayer, together with the women and Mary the

(the company of persons

mother of Jesus, and his brothers.”


ACTS 1:14 (ESV)

ACTS 1:15 (ESV)

3. There was one-mindedness in their

4. Leadership was define


Peter stood up, or anis

This is formed by the team that births the

“to rise” or “rise up”. H



was not a sense that the

choice, and no one was disputing it. There

was going to happen,

was a very clear sense of the presence of

did happen the disciples

leadership and its role: visibility, interpretation,

hey all carried a heart for

recognition, and decision-making. Peter

bedience to carry out

was giving them direction and leading them

g called to do. There is no

we was surrounding their

through scriptures. At this point it isn’t yet a church – it’s a gathering.

“So one of the men who have accompanied us

y all joined together

during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and

er this was life in the

out among us, beginning from the baptism of John

church. These times may

until the day when he was taken up from us—one

level is ‘birthed’ into the

of these men must become with us a witness to his

ng themselves’ means ‘to


other words, they kept

ACTS 1:21-22 (ESV)

ure here isn’t that they

oom, but that they kept

5. Peter was inclusive, not exclusive. Peter knew what he wanted to do and left no question to the followers as to his decisiveness

od up among the brothers was in all about 120) and

– this is necessary. He immediately made way to choose someone new for Judas’ position. From the beginning, he knew the basis of choosing people for his team. He was looking for proven people.


stemi, 4 which means to

“And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know

He was obviously God’s

the hearts of all, show which one of these two


C 3 X P R E S S C O U R S E M A N UA L

you have chosen to take the place in this ministry

apologetics.” 7

and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” And they cast lots for them,

Off the back of this is the

and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered

To develop a strategy that

with the eleven apostles.”

community’s needs while

ACTS 1:24-26 (ESV)

lifestyles, beliefs, or flaws Kingdom culture.

1. They listened to the recommendation of others but still asked God to show them who His

This prepared strategy is t

choice was.

natural evangelism. Natur

“Lord, who have you chosen?” – a key factor

something that is forced; i

from day one in birthing a new location.

medium of relationships. W

remind ourselves that chu When it comes to preparation, there are both

that takes place on a Sund

internal and external factors to be considered.

every day of the week. Th

Internal preparation involves personal

the gospel and developing

development, whereas external preparation is

evangelistic lifestyle” 8 rig

usually in the form of learning, strategizing, and

intend to start a new locat

evangelising. Tim Keller says, “successful church planting begins with learning as much as you


can about the people you wish to reach with the gospel message.” 5 This involves studying the culture and context of the new location so you can

It’s recommended that the

understand how to be most effective in serving

location should only be co

these people and reaching them with the gospel.

necessary preparation has

6 “Understanding the common worldview of the

new location starter, team

people will help you develop the raw material for

confident the timing is righ



new location will vary depending on the chosen model or launch method (as explored in the last next step - to strategize.

chapter) but some common factors should be

t serves the particular

expected during the launch. As pastor and author

seeking to change the

J.D. Payne states, “this stage involves leading

that don’t match up with

the new believers to self-identify and covenant together as a local church.” 9 This is the core idea behind the launching of a new location.

then outworked through

ral evangelism isn’t

The launch phase is usually a very exciting stage

it’s done through the

as anticipation and expectations are high. The

We need to continually

vision is clear in all actions and decisions, targets

urch isn’t just something

have been set, and methods of how to reach

day but something we do

them are outlined. At this stage, a major priority

his way we are “sharing

g an intentionally

ght from the point we


is reaching the lost, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the vision of reaching the unreached is in the forefront of the minds of all believers so they will then act in such a way. Secondly in the early stages of a new location volunteer engagement and financial giving are essential to the life of a church. These aspects only come about through growing the number of members of a new location

e launch of the new

and growing predominately through new believers

onsidered once the

not ‘taking’ members of current churches. Without

s been done and the

these two aspects, it’s very unlikely any location

m and sending church is

will last long or make much of an impact.

ht. Now the launch of the


C 3 X P R E S S C O U R S E M A N UA L

The weekend service is what receives the most

set culture within a new lo

attention. Due to restricted finances, volunteer,

you set in the launch phas

and other resources the weekend services are the

the church grows. Any cul

major focus and outworking of the new locations

church growth and health

vision. Management predominately comes from

never even be placed in th

the senior pastor and “rules or systems are really

of a church.

not needed at this point. It’s all about executing the pastor’s direction.” 10 Although this does not


mean rules and systems aren’t necessary, it’s just that these areas are being developed.

After the launch stage, the What Tony Morgan recognises to be an integral

level of excitement around

part of this phase is to give ministry away to

and is outworked in a con

volunteers. 11 In small churches, it is expected the

innovation and creativity.

senior minister does the entire ministry, but if this

of a new church or new ca

mindset remains, then it will limit the growth and

significant and fruitful, typ

health of the location. Every single person has a

returns far superior to any

set capacity, and this can become the cap of any

of a similar size church.” 12

church unless you release ministry to those below

and leadership coach Tony

you and teach them to do the same.

you are diligent and faithfu

of ministry, I believe it’s po Church leaders need to be acutely aware of the

rapid growth.” 13 Most new

culture they are setting in the early stages of

of momentum from the lau

starting a new location. Culture setting isn’t always

manufactured in the prepa

an intentional action. We don’t need to celebrate

as an arrow being pulled b

something for it to become a culture, but rather

being set in motion, it’s th

merely something you allow can become a hard-

driving force of growth for


ocation. The culture

momentum dies off if left unattended. This growth

se will only harden as

needs to transition from momentum growth to

lture that might restrict

strategic growth.


h in the future should

he early stages of the life

The growth stage transitions into an increased level of structure along with team and leadership development. Roles and responsibilities are reassessed, and structures are produced to create a more efficient and effective form of leadership. The purpose of new structures and systems is

ere is still quite a high

to allow decision making to be released to more

d the new location

people than just the senior leader. This is the

ntinual outward focus, “The first five years

biggest shift during this phase of the church life cycle. “You have to give up control. If you want to

ampus are incredibly

continue growing, you have to release ministry,

pically with spiritual

leadership, decision making, and just about

y other period in the life

everything else to others. A church can’t continue

2 As church consultant

to grow on the shoulders of just one person. God

y Morgan explains, “If

didn’t design it that way.” 14 For this to be done

ul in the launch phase

effectively, leaders must be raised up before

ossible to experience

this transition. If the senior leader is coming to

w locations have a kind

terms with the need for new leaders only now,

unch, which is initially

then it’s too late to do so. “Even when the team

aration stage. Similarly,

is first sharing the Gospel with unbelievers, they

back in a bow before

are modelling what it means to be a leader in the

his momentum that is the

r the new location. But all

Kingdom… the team is subtly doing leadership development very early in their


C 3 X P R E S S C O U R S E M A N UA L

work.” 15 Leadership development and discipleship

the desired established po

is something that should be implemented from the start, during this phase it is clarified.

In this phase if the locatio

it’s evident in the fact that Structures and systems are implemented to

time, it might be at a lesse

reflect the location’s vision and strategy, and

but the key to this phase i

when accompanied by ministry programs should

to be kept in mind too tha

develop spiritual growth, leadership capacity and

not the only measuremen

mobilise believers. As can be assumed, this period

growth, small groups, serv

requires a greater degree of releasing and trust.

measurements of church h

If this phase were to be summarised in a word it

considered. Steady growt

would be either transition or intentional, or both –

in multiplication– healthy

intentional transition!

to multiply, and this princi

too. Whether it’s new loca


groups, services, or anyth it’s healthy it needs to be

The term plateau is commonly used for the stage

Steady growth is a very la

of church life, but may be better described as

to health, but it needs to b

‘sustained health’ or ‘steady growth’. Whatever

“It is impossible to experie

term you use to define this phase the idea behind

health if there’s division w

it is that it’s very rare for any new location to see

means unity in purpose, v

the degree of growth and impact as it did in the

outworks in predetermine

previous phases. In comparison, this stage might

being generous or to emb

be less exhilarating and thrilling. The previous

Christ is renewing believe

stages of the life cycle can be seen as ‘the good

to be constantly renewed.

old days’, but this phase should be the goal and

become stuck in tradition,




seen as ‘the right way’ since they worked in the past. But inability to embrace change is a sure-fire

on remains healthy then

way to sign a death certificate for this location.

t they are growing over


er degree than previously

is steady growth. It needs

at attendance rates are

nt of growth but spiritual

If a location reaches the steady growth stage, it

ving and giving are all

isn’t the end of the game. All isn’t accomplished. If

health that need to be

there are still lost people to be reached, then there

th is further apparent

is still work to be done. Too often locations reach a

things by nature want

certain point that is deemed successful, and they

iple applies to ministry

become apathetic. The doorway into the steady

ations, leaders, connect

growth of a location is momentum and intentional

hing ministry related - if

transition, but what keeps them there is hard


work and continual renewal. Unlike the previous stage it isn’t an intentional effort that moves a

arge contributing factor

congregation to this phase, but rather it’s a lack of

be paired with unity.


ence sustained growth

within the church.” 16 This

The potential decline stage we have named

vision and direction. Unity

so because that is all it is – a potential. Yes, all

ed decisions, such as

churches will go through many ups and downs,

brace the ‘new’. Just as

much like a rollercoaster, but we don’t believe

ers, the church also needs

every church will go through a period of extensive

. 17 Too often churches

decline. At least healthy churches won’t. The

, or in old ways that are

intention of describing this phase of potential


C 3 X P R E S S C O U R S E M A N UA L

The Life Cycle & Stages of Congregational Development. Diagram B The Life Cycle and Stages of Congregational Development Phase Three: Prime/Plateau

Prime Redevelopment Adulthood (VRPM)

Phase Two: Late Growth

Maturity (vRPM)

Adolescence (VRPm)

Phase Fou Early Agin

Empty Nest (vRpM)


Growth Childhood (VrPm) Phase One: Early Growth

Infancy (VRpm)

Retirement (vrPM)

Ph La

Old Age (vrpM)

Birth (Vrpm)

Death (m)

V: R: P: M:

Copyright 2001, Rev. George Bullard, D. Min.

Vision/ Leadership/ Mission/Purpose/Core Values Relationships/Experiences/Discipleship Programs/Events/Ministrues/Services/Activities Management/Accountability/Systems/Resources

ur: ng


hase Five: ate Aging



decline is not to bring condemnation but rather to help locations become aware if they happen to find themselves at this stage. Furthermore, not only for awareness but also to give hope. The truth is a large majority of church locations are at this stage. It isn’t anything to rejoice about, but it is something that we need to prepare and provide encouragement to get back on the track of steady growth.

A major reason for a church to fall into this position of potential decline is there is less focus on vision and relationships. Such location doesn’t necessarily lack focus but more likely than not the focus is on programs and management. It is not a good time when the how becomes more important than the why. As we have explored, programs and management are useful and do have their place in church development, but they can become dangerous when they are the focus of a church. Reverend George Bullard in his study The Life Cycle and Stages of Congregational Development employs a bit more of a complicated and extensive form of the life cycle of a church. He explains the life cycle regarding vision, relationships, programs and management and how they each have a focus during particular phases. As shown in diagram B. 18


C 3 X P R E S S C O U R S E M A N UA L

When a church tends to focus on programs and

to change their ways. Last

management, they inevitably become insider-

location might simply just

focused. “The voices of people inside the church

acknowledge that.

become louder than those of people outside the church and outside the faith. When this happens,

When a church has reache

attendance numbers, group connections, event

longer fuelled by vision bu

participation, serving, and other indicators

past. “The habit or pattern

of health may stay strong, but the number of

and fellowship is the prima

salvations and baptisms starts to decline.” 19

congregation going.” 20 By

It’s not always clear when a church has fallen

has decreased, and becau

into this stage but key indicators to look out for

struggles for volunteers an

are a plateau or decline on attendance growth

ministry. As explained in th

for an extended period, overstaffing instead of

members are the key ingre

volunteering, and lastly usually a negative sense

exist. Without members or

of nostalgia that is outworked in the form of anger

church will inevitably strug

and blame.

At this point, it’s very hard


steep slope of decline. It’s

will require nothing short o

might sound harsh, but it t A congregation continues along the track of

situation. Old methods be

potential decline usually for one of three reasons.

ineffective, and without ch

Firstly, a lot of churches just don’t realise the path

will become the same.

they are going down. As stated, it isn’t always clear when a church is going downhill as there could still

It’s a heavy reality, but ma

be some signs of health. The second reason is that

point where the doors of t

they may just merely be stubborn and unwilling

This isn’t a happy time, an


tly, sometimes a church fail, and its best to just

ed this stage it is no


wish on a congregation, but closing doors do often open up others. A church closure opens up the opportunity for church mergers or adoption, and this sometimes is the best way to make good out of a bad situation.

ut just mere fumes of the

n of gathering for worship

We also need to recognise that a church failure

ary factor keeping the

doesn’t mean the leaders, or the team, are a

y this point, attendance

failure. Sometimes it’s just a case that a servant-

use of this, the church

hearted and willing believer wants to give starting

nd finances to run their

a new location a go, but discovers through the

he launch phase church

process that this just isn’t their calling. To close

edients for a location to

the church might be the best option. This should

r enough members, a

never be accompanied by a sense of shame but

ggle to operate.

rather one of celebration. Someone has given something a go out of a passion for God and His

d to turn back up the

Church. It might have failed, but they gave it a

s not impossible but

go nonetheless. So for those people, we need to

of reinvention. This

celebrate, encourage and help redirect them to a

truly is a change-or-die

different path in building the church.

ecome out-dated and

A typical church’s life cycle can be broken

hange, the congregation

down into defining characteristics just like we have done. A recurring characteristic that comes up for all churches in the stages of growth is that

any locations do reach the

of church size or attendance. The varying church

the church have to close.

sizes, or church growth levels, are accompanied by

nd it’s nothing we’d ever

unique styles of leadership and challenges.


Church GROWTH The dynamics of church structure can change

great difficulties and also

significantly depending on the church size. “There

for ministry that churches

is no ‘best size’ for a church. Each size presents

undertake (at least not as

many opportunities

churches of all sizes be all that Christ wants the

of other sizes cannot

church to be.� 21

well). Only together can


C 3 X P R E S S C O U R S E M A N UA L

Only together can CHURC of all sizes be all that CHR wants the CHURCH to be Contrary to popular belief large church isn’t just

Church sizes can be div

simply a bigger version of a small church. Rather


many processes and leadership styles need to

●● 0-75

change for the church to grow. As a church grows,

●● 75-200

there are some typical shifts or changes.

●● 200-500

These include:

●● 500-1000

●● Increasing complexity

●● 1000+

●● Shifting lay-staff responsibilities ●● Increasing intentionality

Each church size categ

●● Increasing redundancy of communication

concerning their descripti

●● Increasing quality of production

of focus, and unique cha

●● Increasing openness to change

of the following informatio

●● Losing members because of change

the work of Gordon Moore

●● Shifting role of the ministers

Styles & Levels of Church2

●● Structuring smaller

Level. 23

●● Greater emphasis on vision and strengths


vided into the following

gory shall be explored

ion, leadership style, area

allenges. A large majority

on has been derived from

e in his books Leadership

22, and Going to the Next

C 3 X P R E S S C O U R S E M A N UA L


C H U RC H S I Z E : 0 -75

●● Building a team that i

of the church. Althoug 51% of churches operate at this level. 24 It usually

delegating or departm

consists of less than 75 members led by one primary influencer, and commonly thought to be in

Challenges include:

its ‘birthing stage’. Like a seed, it will grow into the

●● Low quality of ministry

future church. When the seed is right, the tree (future

●● Majority of the work re

church) will be right. It operates as an extended small group; thus it’s highly relational. Decisionmaking is highly democratic, communication is


●● Risk of new members untested or untried.

informal, and growth typically occurs by attraction

●● Early onset of poor cu

to their warmth and people.

●● When it grows, a dec

to multiply into a sim The leader primarily acts as a shepherd and is very

or change their churc

pastoral. It is quite a ‘phlegmatic’ style of leadership

church to continue gro

that is sociable, relatable, easy-going, diplomatic, and likeable. The senior pastor is typically bi-


vocational to support their family and ministry.

Areas of focus include: ●● Creating


34% of churches are in th developing


feel like the church is no

opportunities inside and outside of the church.

there are more resources

●● Effectively pastoring members of the church

form new church depart

through preaching, teaching and ministering.

dynamics allow for a sen

●● Providing personal contact with all members.

created. Relational dynam

●● Continually sowing the vision and future of the

less intense, but inform



continue. Shepherding is the primary driving force of

is involved in the ministry

ministry as the location continues to grow because

gh this doesn’t yet involve

of the newcomer’s attraction to the relationships



The leadership is very ministerial. It can be

y to specific groups.

described as a ‘sanguine’ style of leadership that is

ests on the senior pastor’s

charismatic, enthusiastic, free, warm, and friendly.

s or team members being

Areas of focus include: ●● Evangelism is to be intentional for all members.


cision needs to be made

●● Growth needs to happen through departments, not just the pastor and services.

milar ‘small group church’

●● Creating a culture that not only includes but

ch dynamics of their small

also influences and assimilates the unchurched


into the church. ●● Energy is no longer focused on getting started

Z E : 75 -20 0

but on starting to do things. ●● Developing ways to meet the diverse needs of new people and members.

his category. 25 It starts to

ow going somewhere, as

●● Multiplying options provided by the church, such as a second service.

available to do more and

●● Communication

tments. The larger group


nse of atmosphere to be

mics are now becoming

mal leadership structures





●● There needs to be more vision casting, strategizing and administration ability. ●● Establishing proper administration systems and


C 3 X P R E S S C O U R S E M A N UA L

●● procedures.

influential leadership team

●● The shift of mindset from a ‘small church’ to a ‘growing church’ that has room for all.

The senior leader moves

focus to a managerial fo Challenges include:

as a ‘choleric’ style of lea

●● As the church grows in size, the pastor will lose

decisive, productive, prac

the ability to be reasonably available to all the

The senior leader now act


voice of authority, and the

●● The original core group might become cliquey.

priority is to lead and grow

●● A second ministry staff will usually need to be hired. Someone who you are sure can grow the

Areas of focus include:


●● Educating the congr

●● Long-time lay leaders may have trouble releasing power over to the staff member.

pastor is no longer rea

●● Personally appointing

●● Churches might start to outgrow their current

key leaders.

●● Improving the quality

effectiveness to meet

C H U RC H S I Z E : 20 0 - 5 0 0

will cause the church


Classes n

experienc 12.6% of churches are of this size. 26 The primary


Worship m

circle of belonging is found in special classes of



programs provided as the church breaks out of small church mentality. At this stage, the church can

Challenges include:

perform most of its actions with credibility. Various

●● If old church habits a

leaders now must represent specific people groups

the church won’t be a

within the church, and due to the increase in work,

Old habits include:


ms will rise in power.



Limited options.


No, or few, church staff.

s away from a ministerial


The whole church is involved in

ocus. It can be described


adership that is strategic,


Informal communication.

ctical, and confrontational.


The pastor is the sole shepherd

ts as the vision caster, the

and minister.

e leader of leaders. Their

â—?â—? Members need to embrace bigger ideas, bigger

w the church.

departments, and bigger money.

C H U RC H S I Z E : 5 0 0 - 1 0 0 0

regation that the senior

adily available.

g, training and mentoring

Almost 98% of all churches are smaller than 500. 27 At this point, the church can do most things on

y of ministries and their

its own, and the full potential of the church begins

t real needs. This is what

to be realised. Specialization of functions and

to grow.

ministries occur at every level allowing the church

need to be good learning

to expand locally, regionally and internationally


more effectively through church planting and

must be engaging.

mission programs. The key to growth in this level is

g must inform and inspire.

the quality of preaching and the available worship

aren’t completely broken,

experience. Majority of members are found in small groups; these are key to navigating the transition into this growth level.

able to continue to grow. Leaders of such size churches have delegated


C 3 X P R E S S C O U R S E M A N UA L

management of ministry to others. This style is solely leadership in nature. The leadership could

the church.

●● Too many programs o

be described as ‘melancholic’ in style’. That is, it’s

can detract from the

analytical, visionary, intuitive, holistic, and reflective.

and mission.

The leader now needs to focus on preaching, vision casting and strategizing.

C H U RC H S I Z Areas of focus include: ●● Senior pastor gives authority to leaders with the aim to move the church to a point where it’s

A very large church of this

driven by vision, values, and culture.

focus; any sign of small ch

●● Raising up of leaders for every department.

eliminated. Typically, a se

These leaders need to be increasingly gifted

specialised leaders overse

and be leaders of leaders.

as departments no longer

●● An effective pastoral system to assimilate,

large networks. The traits

discipline and incorporate newcomers more

excellence, openness in

efficiently and effectively.

of choices, low pressu

●● Decision-making





congregation. The key to

decentralised and shift onto the individual staff

maximise the momentum

and leadership teams.

challenges or growth barr

Challenges include:

A more presidential style o

●● Due to the increasing workload relationships

come forth. The senior lea

among the senior leadership team could

Through their influence, a

become distant and stretched.

can bring direction, health

●● Since departments become self-led and self-

at this level need to be a

functioning, there is a danger of division among

principles behind methods



Areas of focus include:

or extracurricular activities overall churches purpose

●● Senior






entrepreneurial, and act as effective directors of people and resources. ●● Transitioning the leadership team to identify and apply principles, not just models and

ZE: 1000+

programs. ●● Loss of focus and breakdown of relationships within leadership teams are what can cause a

s size has quite a missional

loss of momentum.

hurch mentality has been

●● An increased focus on the vision, original

enior leadership team of

mission and to keep relationships healthy.

ee individual departments,

●● Stay creative in maximising the facility to its full

work as small groups, but


s of a large church include

●● Intentionally mentoring and leadership training

n changing, availability

at all levels to cater for the high demand of new

ure, and a multicultural

o growth at this size is to

m while minimising any

leaders. ●● Research and development for the larger global body of the church.

riers. Challenges include:

of leadership now needs to

●● Drawing from a wide range of geographic

ader oversees the church.

locations means soon the congregation doesn’t

authority and control, they

match its location and can’t reach its geographic

h and fruitfulness. Leaders

community. This is where multiplying locations

able to communicate key

becomes important.

s or programs effectively.

●● Sparse congregation undermines community,


C 3 X P R E S S C O U R S E M A N UA L

●● fellowship and discipleship.

●● At 200-500 begin t

●● Newcomers may feel overwhelmed, out of place, and forgotten.

leaders. Move church

structures and budge

●● A large size church also brings a large degree of complexity and change.


●● At 500+ begin to have

●● Large churches can have the ability to be based

so giving authority

on the leadership of a sole individual. This

Move the church to be

could become a problem when it comes time

and culture.

for succession and for the church to continue. ●● Momentum loss is hard to regain.

These are just some guid

from a growing church. It As some brief guidelines and a general overview,

changes and shifts need t

these are the trends that need to occur for a

continue growing. “All lea

location to transition through the varying church

ceiling, which will eventu

growth levels:

belief that each capacity i

●● At less than 75 begin to share and cast the

of leadership of the rel

vision for what the church/small group/ministry

Growth Level] … for growth

will look like at 150-200 size

adopt a new style of leade

●● At 75-200 begin to introduce some structures for





we have found that on to change, there are many

strategies. The leader gradually becomes

stimulate church growth. T

‘unavailable’ to the members of the church

●● Clarifying visions and

regarding visitation and counselling. Delegate

●● Determining target de

more tasks to leaders below.

●● Creating a social med


to give authority to key

●● Outreach events

h into full accountability

●● Church partnerships

ets, working on effective

●● Prayer and Fasting


●● A greater level of discipleship

e ‘planned absences’ and

●● Less and more specific programs

to other senior leaders.

●● Bigger buildings

e driven by vision, values,

●● Greater attraction

These methods may have been effective and able

delines for what to expect

to produce growth in a certain context, although

t’s quite evident now that

we do continue to assert that every church location

to occur for the church to

is vastly different. Certain methods or processes

aders have a capacity or

cannot be expected to work in every context

ually be reached. It is my

applied. This doesn’t mean that new church growth

is determined by the style

methods aren’t useful or applicable to your context.

levant quadrant [Church

They can be incredibly useful for fresh inspiration or

h to occur, the leader must

to help get your location unstuck, and we encourage

ership.” 28 In our research,

responsible church leaders to do some further

op of leadership shift and

study and research into the many articles, books,

various tips to cause or

podcasts, on church growth. But it would take a lot

These include:

of time to delve into the increasingly many church

mission statements

growth methods in this resource, and we think this


time would be better spent to explore a broader

dia presence

and fool-proof way to create church growth.


Church HEALTH Church growth is commonly viewed as the be-

unhealthy things, includin

all and end-all of church life, and too often the

to grow. When church gro

overarching key to church growth is forgotten

church health any sicknes

about – church health. Church health is the

is present in the church is

foundation for any good church growth. Healthy

What the church currently

things grow, but unfortunately, it is true that

with greater influence due

ng churches, are still able

greater influence is great if the church is healthy,

owth is sought out before

but if it’s not, it could have disastrous effects.

ss, or un-health, that

Church health not only goes hand in hand with

s what will be growing.

church growth but also is a prerequisite and acts

y is will be the same but

as a foundation for any healthy and effective future

e to its greater size. This



C 3 X P R E S S C O U R S E M A N UA L

All church leaders need

and continually seek chu

growth for two reasons

whatever the church is a what will be multiplied. If

healthy churches, we ne

Secondly, if a church is he

will begin to grow of its ow aren’t always healthy, but

Church growth isn’t our job But rather it’s up to God

the Apostle Paul says to th

“I planted, Apollos wate growth.”


What we do take responsi

of the church, and this is h church growth.

In ministry, there are a lot

have influence over and w

an impact on church grow

can affect is the church’s h

this impact church growth


to shift their perspective


it comes to church growth, there are spiritual,

urch health before church

institutional, and contextual factors. We are not

s. Firstly, as mentioned,

responsible for the contextual factors. But we are

at the time of growth is

responsible for both the spiritual and institutional

we want more and larger

factors.” 29 These factors are what we can affect to

eed to seek health first.

produce healthy churches. “Growth or non-growth

ealthy, then chances are it

are not determined by contextual factors, but by

wn accord. Growing things

clearly identifiable patterns of behaviour.” After

healthy things grow.

years of research and church analysis, German author Christian A. Schwarz has developed a list of

b, nor is it our responsibility. to cause growth. Just as

quality characteristics that he believes to be these ‘identifiable patterns of behaviour’. 30

he church at Corinth:

ered, but God gave the


ibility for is the health

how we play our role in

of aspects that we don’t

Growing things aren’t always healthy, but healthy things grow.

which will inevitably have

wth levels. But what we

health, and through

h for the better. “When


C 3 X P R E S S C O U R S E M A N UA L

Natural Church Developme Christian and his team assert that these eight

has been defined in the

quality characteristics when present create what

Introduction to Natural Ch

they call ‘Natural Church Development’ (NCD). That



is just as we were saying before; when the church



is first healthy, it shall grow and develop naturally



of its own accord. The list of quality characteristics


Effective S




Inspiring Worship Services


Holistic Small Groups


Need-Orientated Evangelism


Loving Relationships

These quality characteristics are what develop a healthy church and act as a foundation for any future church growth. We need to recognise though that every church has each of these characteristics to an extent. There’s always some leadership, or ministry,


or relationships. The key is found in the adjective – the descriptive word of each characteristic. “If the respective practice of leadership, spirituality, evangelism or any other noun is wrong – that isn’t being in line with corresponding adjective –then the attempt to get ‘more of it’ would most likely increase the problem, rather than solve it.” 32

Christian describes the church as a wooden

bucket. Each stave (vertical wooden post) in the bucket is a quality characteristic as listed above. resource All By Itself: An

God is the one who outpours growth into the

hurch Development as: 31

church like water into a bucket. It’s the quality of the

ring Leadership

bucket, and each stave, that determines how much

d Ministry

water it can contain. So just the same, it’s the health

te Spirituality

of each quality characteristics that determine how


much growth it’s able to sustain. Conversely, the


When the CHURCH is firs healthy, it shall grow and develop naturally.

st d



quality characteristics that are least developed is what will leak any potential church growth.






processes, the NCD team choose to stand by the fact that these quality characteristics are principles that will work for everyone. Declaring, “your sole challenge is to focus on those areas that will have the greatest immediate impact, and to apply the principles in a way that is in line with your culture, your theological persuasion and your style.” 33

NCD has been a great tool to produce

church health and has been particularly proven within the C3 movement. Christian Schwarz himself says that the C3 movement is “according to our research, the healthiest denomination that we are aware of. At the same time the denomination that applies the principles of NCD most consistently.” 34

The challenge that many churches have

found is the ability to measure this health or growth. Too often church health has been based on opinions from the leadership team within, but just as often there are unfortunately many blind spots that limit church health and therefore church growth. From our research, we have decided that it’s useful to combine these quality characteristics provided by NCD with modern church metrics to provide a numerical and testable measure of church health.


C 3 X P R E S S C O U R S E M A N UA L

Church Me Church metrics can be a controversial topic, but we

missing sheep, metrics (us

believe that church metrics when done correctly

what you’re doing) remain

and with the right intentions are incredibly useful for your church. “Metrics do not turn a church into a

Good metrics have the po

business any more than a check-up turns my body

●● Create

into a machine. Like a doctor’s thorough report,




metrics equip leaders with critical information

●● Identify early warning

to make better decisions for the health of their

●● Celebrate what God is

churches.” 35

●● Set clearer and more s

It’s not numbers within themselves that are

●● Develop

effective, but the analysis and application of such



numbers are what takes effect. “It’s what numbers measure that matters. Using metrics to determine

All churches should have

how effectively your church is doing its part to make

have a greater influence

disciples in the community is critical. In fact, it’s

for any future targets, we

ministry… so, of course, numbers mean nothing for

we currently stand and p

churches. But for any church that cares for that one

with our mission from su

(i) Note that these statistics only represent the 200 churches studied in the US




sing numbers to measure

to achieve your future goals ultimately starts with

n incredibly important.” 36

identifying where you are now.” 37 Metrics can create the pathway for church growth to follow.

otential to:





From our research, we have been able to

categorise church metrics into three main sections – attendance, engagement, and participation.

g signs

Each of these in a way relates to the eight quality

s doing

characteristics provided by NCD. So it provides a tool

specific goals

to measure the health of the quality characteristics





that we should be seeking to implement into our churches. Because without measurement do we truly know how we are progressing?

e the desire to grow and

Tony Morgan and the team at Unstuck have

e in their community. But

analysed the health of over 200 churches in the

need to recognise where

U.S. and published their research in the eBook Vital

project our future in line

Signs. 38 This research is where a large proportion

uch a point. “Being able

of our data is derived from: (i)

S and may not be an exact representation of your context.


C 3 X P R E S S C O U R S E M A N UA L

Measurements in regards to attendance have show ATTENDANCE CHANGE

TOP 10%


TOP 10%

1 .1











YTD Avg. Attendance YTD Attendance of Prior Year



First Time Guests in the past 1 Average Attendance

s wn:




.1 1

12 months



The first church metric category is attendance. Attendance has always been the key measurable in church life. In modern ministry though there is a growing shift to focus on areas of engagement and participation over attendance. We do affirm that church attendance is unable to reflect the overall church health it’s still a useful metric to measure, this is why attendance change is typically the starting point to measure the church’s health. What we are looking for is an increase in church attendance. A healthy church should be growing in numbers. It’s also helpful to note trends in growth according to different seasons and plan accordingly.

On top of attendance numbers, the actual attendees need to be broken down and measured. Firstly, a measurement of guests vs attendance ratio can reflect on how effective the church is in attracting new people. Secondly, a measurement of the percentage of attendees becoming members shows how effective the church has been in assimilating these guests into church members.


C 3 X P R E S S C O U R S E M A N UA L

Measurements of church audience demographics h produced the following re PERCENTAGE OF KIDS


TOP 10%

TOP 10%











12% YTD Avg. Kids

YTD Avg. Attendance



YTD Avg. Students

YTD Avg. Attendance

h have esults:








Concerning church attendance, it’s good not only to ask how many people are attending by actually who is attending. This metric means categorising your congregation into adults, students, and children, and measuring each particular demographic.

Every church location needs to get a grasp of the big picture of the gospel. They need to have a vision that is large enough to go past their own life in ministry, and past their generation into the generations beyond. Measuring the multigenerational dynamics of your membership paints a clear picture of the effectiveness and longevity your church will have within your community. “Reaching young parents and their kids is not simply about trying to be trendy. It is about creating a sustainable organisation that is reaching its community long after you are gone.� 39 Also, a large student base within your congregation gives you the ability to analyse any community shifts and prepare your ministry. For this shifting demographic is who will make up a large part of your congregation in the coming years.


C 3 X P R E S S C O U R S E M A N UA L



TOP 10%

TOP 10%












Previous 12 Months Baptisms YTD Avg. Attendance



Total Adults & Students in Group

YTD Avg. Attendance - YTD A

The second category of metrics comes under

Measuring salvations (whe

engagement. Rather than asking who is attending

or recommitments) defin

it’s asking if those who attend are engaging with the

of church life. Firstly, it

church and the services the church provides. This

attendees are reacting

metric involves measuring salvations, baptisms,

secondly at what rate y

and small group participation.

non-believers. It’s hard to



two from data, so if your church has a low rate of


salvations, it’s good to be aware that it could be due to one, or a combination of both aspects of church life. A measurement that extends from salvation is


the metric of baptisms. Measuring salvations might track the number of initial commitments made by church members, but baptisms indicate the rate of


follow-through made by these new believers. So, it would be quite revealing to compare the rates


of salvations to that of baptisms, as it will reflect on your churches ability to not only follow up on salvations but how you encourage your members


on their next step.

A final reflection of the engagement of your church

ps & Classes

Avg. Kids

audience is the percentage of members who attend small groups. Church services only take hold of their members for up to an hour or two a week. Such services obviously aren’t enough to make

ether it be new salvations

a solid impact in people’s lives and effectively

nes a couple of aspects

make true disciples of Christ. For this to occur,

defines how the church

small groups are a vital part of church life. The

to your service, and

percentage of members attending small groups is

your church is reaching

a good reflection of not only engagement but also

o distinguish between the

the disciple-making abilities of the church.


C 3 X P R E S S C O U R S E M A N UA L

Another category of metrics comes from the topic

of members who have ch

of participation. This metric group looks now not

the church’s vision, and w

at whether people are only attending or engaging,

in their mission. “When

but at those who have reached the point of

more likely to show up f

participating in church life and seek to play a role in

more likely to invite their

building the church. It’s a reflection to what degree

Maybe most importantly,

church members are willing to sacrifice to further

ministry will be stretched

the Kingdom of God. Areas measured include the numbers of volunteers, the ratio of staff members,

Along with the percenta

and giving per capita.

ratio of attendance to s

blamed lack of volunteers The number of volunteers is quite a clear reflection

of church members, but

of the level of participation within church attendees.

overstaffing. Capable and

A greater number of volunteers within the church

too commonly feel exclud

means a greater number of members being activated

staff members are hired t

to participate in Kingdom work. When people take

Morgan encourages a ra

the step from simply attending to serving there is

for every hundred attende

also a shift in lifestyle and mindset. This is a shift

much less than that su

from an inward and consumer focus to an upward

on staff and an underuti

and outward focus that seeks to bless those around

An over-reliance of staff

them and reach their community for the gospel.

to what was described w

The numbers of volunteers is also a reflection of

levels. Less participation

the churches ability to win people over to their

means fewer people adop

vision, and their cause. The number of volunteers

mission for themselves p

defines how well the church helps people take

there is a greater degree o

their spiritual next step. Where there are a greater

demands that they be ‘fed

number of volunteers, there are a greater number

disappear until next week



hosen to personally adopt

child that only seeks their needs and desires above

work alongside the church

those around them. This area of church life then

people volunteer, they’re

plays a significant role in determining the maturity

for worship. They’re also

of their church members. The attendance to staff

r friends. They give more.

ratio displays whether the church is merely hiring

, people who engage in

those to “do”, or whether they are hiring people to

in their faith.” 40

delegate and “equip”.

age of volunteers is the

And lastly is the metric of giving. Financial giving

staff. Too often churches

can often be a touchy subject within church life but

s on the laziness or apathy

what this metric reveals can play a significant role

it could be the result of

in your ministry, therefore we shouldn’t be wary of

d willing church volunteers

measuring it and speaking into the topic. This metric

ded from opportunities, as

is obviously invaluable for the church’s budget but

to fill such positions. Tony

on top of this, you’ll not only become aware of the

ate of one staff member

degree of generosity of your church attendees but

ees and declares, “a ratio

also the level they are willing to invest in your vision

uggests an over-reliance

and mission. The tithe is often merely viewed as the

ilization of volunteers.” 41

amount your church gives to the church, but the

does the exact opposite

integral part is the heart and attitude behind this

with increased volunteer

act of giving. The financial amount given reflects

among church attendees

how well your church attendees grasp the concept

pt the church’s vision and

of generosity and financial stewardship. This

personally and therefore

understanding not only affects church attendees

of consumer mindset that

and their giving at church but also is truly part of

d’ every service and merely

their lifestyle and overflows into all aspects of their

k. Very much like a needy

life. A low level of giving per capita shows that


C 3 X P R E S S C O U R S E M A N UA L


TOP 10%


TOP 10%








21% BOTTOM 10%

Total Adults & Students Volunteering

YTD Avg.

YTD Avg. Attendance - YTD Avg. Kids

Full-Time St

your attendees don’t truly understand the concept

grow a church by growing

or importance of either generosity or the church’s

quality of your church by

vision and mission. These both are game changers

the heads, hands, and he

when it comes to the health of your location.

nothing else. The quality

be confused with the quali Results from analysis of such metrics are as follows:

with the quality of the sho

The key to any church growth or church health rests

the quality of a church is

in the quality of the people who attend. Christian

sitting in the pews.” 42 We

Schwarz rightly says, “the church is people. You

of numbers but keeping





TOP 10%










General Fund Budget

. Attendance

/ 52 (YTD Attenance - YTD Kids)

taff Equivalents

g people. You increase the

they are progressing in our church. Are they moving

y increasing the quality in

from merely attending, to engaging, and finally to

earts of the people and by

participating? If not, what is preventing people in

of a church should never

their progress? If we are continually asking these

ity of the church pews, nor

questions and seeking to answer them, then we

ow on the platform. Rather,

will ensure that we are developing people. If we are

the quality of the people

developing people, then we can confidently assert

are not just keeping track

that we are developing a healthy and growing

track of people and how



C 3 X P R E S S C O U R S E M A N UA L

References 1

Christian A. Schwarz. The

An Introduction to Natura

(Ipswich, Queensland: NC 2

Aubrey Malphurs, Advan

A 21st-Century Model for C

Leaders, 3rd ed. (Grand R 2005, 2013), 10. 3

“Lexicon :: Strong’s G55

Letter Bible. Accessed Nov


cfm?Strongs=G5563&t=KJ 4

“Lexicon :: Strong’s G45

Bible. Accessed Novembe


lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G450 5

Keller, Centre Church, 36


Payne, Apostolic Church


Keller, Centre Church, 36




e All By Itself Pathway:


Payne, Apostolic Church Planting, 54

al Church Development.


Ibid, 58

CD Australia, 2015), 32


Morgan, The Unstuck Church, 16

nced Strategic Planning:


Ibid, 34

Church and Ministry


Bird, “8 Launch Wins for New Churches and

Rapids, MI: Baker Books,

Multisite Campuses”, 5 13

Morgan, The Unstuck Church, 39

563 – chorizo”, Blue


Ibid, 66

vember 1, 2017. https://


Payne, Apostolic Church Planting, 58



Morgan, The Unstuck Church, 93



Ibid, 94

50 – anistemi”, Blue Letter


Rev. George Bullard. “The Life Cycles and

er 1, 2017.

Stages of Congregational Development,” 2001.





63 Planting, 54



Morgan, The Unstuck Church, 120


Bullard, “The Life Cycles and Stages of

Congregational Development,”


C 3 X P R E S S C O U R S E M A N UA L


Timothy Keller. “Leaders

Size Dynamics: How Strat Growth.� Redeemer City to


sites/2/2016/04/Tim-Kelle 22

Gordon Moore, Leadersh

Church. (Australia: Ark Ho 23

Gordon Moore. Going to

Ark House Press, 2015) 24

Moore, Leadership Styles






Moore, Going to the Next


Moore, Leadership Styles


Schwarz, The All By Itse

to Natural Church Developm 30

Ibid, 54



Ibid, 57

tegy Changes with


Ibid, 57

City, 2010. http://


Ibid, 28


NCD International, “Results of NCD in

ship and Church



C3 Churches”, https://www.youtube.com/

hip Styles & Levels of

watch?v=TzIPWHQLydE, Aug 14, 2012

ouse Press, 2015)

o the Next Level .(Australia:

s & Levels of Church



Tony Morgan, and Ryan Stigile. “Vital Signs:

Why Church Health Matters and 14 Ways to Measure It.” The Unstuck Group, 2016. http:// go.theunstuckgroup.com/vitalsignsbook. 36

Tobin Perry. “5 Crucial Church Metrics

You’re Not Measuring.” eChurch, https://info.

t Level


s & Levels of Church


elf Pathway: An Introduction


ment, 52

Accessed October 13, 2017. https://hillsong.com/

Joel A’ Bell. “5 Indicators of Church Health.”



C 3 X P R E S S C O U R S E M A N UA L

health/. 38

Morgan and Stigile, “Vit




Morgan, The Unstuck C


Morgan and Stigile, “Vit


Schwarz, The All By Itse

Introduction to Natural Ch



tal Signs”

Church, 35

tal Signs”

elf Pathway: An

hurch Development, 4


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