When You Assume… (Church Growth Edition)

mugWe all make assumptions.

I do. You do.

And they’re almost always wrong.

Especially on complex subjects, like those that involve God and people. Subjects like church health and growth.

But over the years I’ve made many assumptions about church growth anyway. And I’ve heard others make them.

Then I lived a few decades as a pastor. Experience challenged, then changed my assumptions. It showed me that many of them were not valid.

So what should we do when our assumptions are challenged? Let go of them.

With that as a backdrop, here’s a partial list of assumptions many people make about church health, growth and size – many of which I made myself – that have proven to be wrong.

So we need to give them up.

(If you’re new to my blog, this might also help you clear up any assumptions you might have made about me and this ministry. Some have links to previous posts that explain them in more detail.)


I Don’t Assume…

…that small churches are doing something wrong

…that bigger is better

…that bigger is worse 

…that small church pastors are lazy or sinful (or automatically righteous, either)

…that big churches are shallow

…that a healthy church will grow numerically

…that a lack of numerical growth is a sign of ill-health

…that big churches steal sheep

…that small churches are friendly

…that big churches aren’t friendly

…that more programs equal better church

…that small churches need to think like big churches

…that numerical growth is always a sign of God’s blessing

…that great preaching alone will build a great church

…that doing what the growing church down the street did will make my church grow


Assess, Don’t Assume

One of the great gifts that the church growth movement has brought to the church is the understanding that we need to assess what we’re doing in order to track our health and progress.

One of the downsides is that we’ve relied almost exclusively on numbers to make those assessments. And not just any numbers, but three specific numbers. People in the seats, money in the offering and the size of our buildings.

We can learn some things from those numbers, but we have to stop assuming that those numbers alone can help us understand the health and value of a local church.

As I wrote previously, in Metrics That Matter: The Missing Element In Assessing Small Church Health, we need new ways to measure church health and success instead of assuming the numbers will tell us everything.


So what do you think? Have you made any other assumptions about church growth?

We want to hear from you. Yes, you!
Enter your comment right below this post and get in on the conversation.

(Mug photo from knnth andrade • Flickr • Creative Commons)

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2 thoughts on “When You Assume… (Church Growth Edition)”

  1. Let me state right from the get go, I am NOT a pastor, but would certainly welcome
    G-d’s direction if that be His will . The three (3) specific numbers mentioned, do NOT,
    as far as I am concerned, have ANY indication of the “spiritual” condition of a body of believers . Church growth may be indicated by number of new believers, people being disciple d, and new ministries reaching out to the community that involve the entire congregation .

  2. I was reading 2 Samuel today where David wants to build God a house. Nathan (the prophet) says “Go ahead!” But God says “I don’t need you to build me a house.” It made me think how long we have made buildings one of the primary focal points of ministry and God said “I really don’t need it.”

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