If the Church is Going to Grow, You Can’t Know Everyone

I’ve written on this in the past but after reading Michael Fletcher’s “Overcoming Barriers to Church Growth” I discovered one more area in which our church hasn’t changed.  And according to Fletcher, if we’re going to break through the 200 ceiling, we’ll need to change our church culture’s understanding on this important issue.

Here’s how he puts it:

Small churches, without realizing it, intuitively resist growth at some point since continued growth threatens the closeness they so enjoy.  After a certain number of relationships, a person just doesn’t have room for more.  Folks cannot remember everyone’s name but somehow feel they should.  Not knowing everyone, and the underlying guilt that says we should, produces an awkwardness that actually pushes others away.  Small churches fear that growing might destroy the family they have become (55).

For a church to break through the 100/200 barrier…The people must accept the fact that they will not be able to know everyone in the church.  This does not mean they must give up a sense of family, but it does mean that they will have to learn to experience it in other ways.  Properly done, this barrier can be broken without destroying the great fellowship members have been enjoying.  New circles of fellowship must be developed, and even multiplied, to prompt continued growth (57).

What do you think?  Is Fletcher right or wrong?  Why is it important for a local church to strive for continued growth?

6 thoughts on “If the Church is Going to Grow, You Can’t Know Everyone

  1. I think Fletcher is 100% correct. We must strive for continued growth or we are not succeeding at our #1 mission to make disciples.

    I also think this is why small groups are so important to the church. As a church hopefully grows, and people realize they’ve reached their limit on knowing more people, small groups become more and more important so that relationships can become stronger and people can continue to grow together in Christ.

  2. I hadn’t thought about the growth of a church with having this kind of problem. But I agree 100% with him. I can understand some memebers resistance to growth because of this very issue.

    • I agree with that assessment by Fletcher. It’s already to a point that there are many people I don’t know. I do sometimes feel badly about that. But I try to focus on developing relationships with the ones God places before me and trust that God will enable all members of the church to experience family fellowship. You, as the pastor, are in a position to coordinate some of the committees (though I hate that word) which can facilitate small groups (via Sunday School, Wed night, and other types of groups within the church.) A sermon here and there to outline this vision can get the rest of us into the “game plan” of outgrowing the need to know everyone and facilitating exponential growth.

  3. I come from a very large church which has grown largely because of its outreach and loving, compassionate worship service. Many do not seek closeness, but seek service instead. The church offers many small groups for study, closeness, friendship. I, personally choose service and there I reach congregational members of like mind, praying and working together for a purpose…we are task driven in the name of the Lord. Growth comes naturally when people are authentic, out serving and doing God’s work…50% of it takes places OUTSIDE the church…

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