Building a Strategy For Growth

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The Two Extremes of Church Strategy

  • When it comes to strategy, church leaders tend to veer in one of two ways: super spiritual, or super technical.
  • Both extremes of super spiritual and super technical strategies are unbiblical when it comes to church growth.
  • The extreme of super spiritual tends to have no direction and is chaotic, whereas super technical strategies are more like businesses and there is no trust in God.

Church Growth is Like a Plant

  • The biblical way to think about church growth is that it’s like growing a plant. 1 Cor 3:6: ‘I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.’
  • God grows the church, it is down to us to plant and water it. God has a part to play and we have a part to play.
  • Planting and watering the church are very strategic.
  • The same is true of Paul and Apollos. Paul would have to think where is the right place to plant the next church. Apollos would have to think how much water, teaching and discipleship, that church would need to help it grow.
  • Our role in church growth is to have a planting and watering strategy.

Strategy Needs an Aim

  • The Oxford Dictionary defines strategy as “a plan of action designed to achieve a long-term or overall aim.”
  • Paul’s overall aim was to make disciples of all nations. He did this by planting into major cities, he would always go to synagogues first, he would stay until the church was established and he would revisit and strengthen them.
  • Roland Allen,“St. Paul’s theory (or strategy) of evangelising a province was not to preach in every place himself but to establish centres of christian life in two or three important places from which the knowledge might spread into the country around… He intended his congregation to become at once centres of light.”

Jesus Was Strategic

  • Jesus’ strategy for getting the gospel to the ends of the earth was investing heavily in 12 young guys.
  • Jesus rarely stayed in one place more than a few days which meant that His ministry touched all of Galilee’s 175 towns and villages.
  • By the end of His ministry most of Galilee’s 200,000 people would have either met Jesus or known someone who had.
  • So strategy is biblical, it is right, it is Godly and it is vital that as churches we embrace it.

Strategy Models

  • A lot of organisations that have strategy models make them so long and boring that nobody ever reads them, and the few that do find them so complicated that they don’t understand it anyway.
  • Organisations can spend so long coming up with a strategy method that by the time it’s done it’s out of date.
  • Anne-Valerie Ohlsson-Corboz and Jacques Horovitz’s book “A Dream with a Deadline”says that strategy needs to be simple and concise. Take a sheet of A4, draw a picture of a house and write your strategy inside it. They call this the House Model. (Download the template here)
  • There are three main components to this model: The roof, the pillars and the foundation.
  • The roof is the vision of the church, where you want to get to.
  • The pillars are the actions of your church to get you there.
  • The foundation is the culture of the church – the attitude you have while you do the things that get you there.

Strategy Needs a Vision

  • Having a vision is the most essential thing, the church needs to know where it’s going.
  • Proverbs 29:18 says, ‘Where there is no vision, the people perish.’
  • Jim Collins puts it like this: “The fox knows many things but the hedgehog knows one thing. Hedgehogs see what is essential, defending themselves, and ignore the rest. We must be like the hedgehog.”
  • The vision for CCM is ‘Bringing Life to the Communities of Manchester.’
  • We want to see God’s Kingdom advance, disciples reproducing disciples, the poor lifted out of poverty and the rich embrace generosity.

Strategy Needs a Church Culture

  • The culture of CCM: Think the Best, Generous, Have a Go, Wholehearted, Second Chance, Forward Looking and Eating Together.
  • These are the attitudes we actively promote in our church as we do the things that achieve our vision of bringing life to Manchester.
  • You will see these attitudes across all of the CCM sites.

Strategy Needs a Plan of Action

  • Our actions are the things we do to achieve church vision.
  • CCM’s actions fall into three categories: Devotion, Community and Mission. Everything CCM does fits into one of these three areas, if it doesn’t we don’t do it.
  • Christian Schwarz, ‘Natural Church Development’, helps us decide what actions to put in each pillar. This book was one of the most comprehensive research projects of the causes of church growth ever taken. It looked at 32 countries and had 4.2 million responses.
  • Schwarz concluded that there were eight things that cause church growth: 1. Empowering leadership 2. Gift orientated ministry 3. Passionate spirituality 4. Functional structures 5. Inspiring worship services 6. Holistic small groups 7. Need orientated evangelism 8. Loving relationships.
  • Just as plants naturally grow when nothing is stopping them, churches will naturally grow if there is nothing stopping them. Just as the farmer’s job is to remove obstacles from stopping the plant grow, leaders must remove obstacles stopping church growth.
  • What your church is least good at is what will bring the most growth if it is improved.