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  • Erik Reed

4 Factors That Keep Churches From Reaching More People

Every pastor wants to see their church grow and reach people in their community, yet 80%+ of churches don’t grow. The Journey Church, where I serve as a pastor, has grown from 40 to 1,400 over the years. Why do some churches not grow? Here are 4 of the biggest factors that keep churches from reaching more people:

#1. No vision or passion to reach people.

Many churches are content just to do their thing. They enjoy their friends, their Bible study, and keeping their church the way it is. For churches to reach people in the community it begins with an urgency and passion.

Pastors and church leaders have to spearhead this effort. Leaders must embody this desire. Cast vision. Preach sermons. Train on evangelism. Raise the urgency to reach the lost. All these things need to happen to generate a desire within the congregation to reach others.

#2. Broken systems.

Systems are the processes in place for doing things. How do we connect with new people? How do we plug people into community? How do we get people involved in serving?

Everyone has systems and processes. Even an unplanned process is a process/system. It’s just a bad one. Do you have enough parking to reach people? Do you have enough seating capacity? Do you have enough kids space? These are all systems that often constrain growth.

#3. Pastors who don’t share ministry.

When a church is smaller, the temptation of the pastor is to do everything. After all, the church pays him. Many pastors do everything because it makes them feel they are earning their keep. This bottlenecks ministry.

If a pastor hogs all the responsibilities, the church is limited in its growth by the number of people he is able to personally minister to. This was a problem I had for a season of time until a more seasoned pastor pointed it out to me.

Healthy, growing churches have pastors that equip others for ministry and give them real responsibility. This multiplies the church’s capacity to reach and minister to people. This requires the pastor to pour into others and set the expectation within the church.

#4. Lack of depth and substance.

It’s 2022, people are no longer going to churches because they have cool lights, use PowerPoint, and have a band. In an unsettled world, where the foundations shift under their feet each day, people are looking for depth.

They want to hear from God. Churches that make the teaching of the Bible clear, will find plenty of sheep looking for green pastures. Choose theologically rich songs to sing. Cut out all the fluff from your services (18 announcements and 4 commercials about upcoming events).

Preach messages that teach the Bible in an understandable way. Clarity is king. Teach theology. Address issues they face in the culture. Take communion regularly. Pray over them instead of simply using prayer as a transition from one element to another.

I could list more. But getting these things right position a church to reach people in their community. Remember: we want to reach people because 1. Christ commands us to go, baptize, and teach people, and 2. We want God to receive maximum glory. A growing, large church will not satisfy in your heart what only Christ can satisfy. Don’t ask your church to be your source of identity or assurance. Find that in Christ alone. Then you're free to serve your church.

Erik Reed is the Lead Pastor of The Journey Church in Lebanon, TN, a church he planted sixteen years ago. He also founded Knowing Jesus Ministries, a non-profit organization which exists to proclaim timeless truth for everyday life ( Erik is the author of Uncommon Trust: Learning to Trust God When Life Doesn’t Make Sense and Hold the Line: A Call for Christian Conviction in a Culture of Conformity. He is married to Katrina and has three children: Kaleb (who went to be with the Lord in 2019), Kaleigh Grace, and Kyra Piper.


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