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Growing your church is a difficult and sometimes stressful part of the job that maybe you underestimated. Or maybe you didn’t underestimate it but feel the stress all the same. If you’re having trouble growing your church, we’ve written a few blogs to help you out, including this one.
Some churches seem to set the bar, showing us that it’s possible to be successful in growing their congregation, while maintaining a kingdom-minded perspective. One of these individuals is our very own Justin Knapp. To get an understanding of the kinds of habits a high-growth church leader possesses, we sat down with him and asked a few questions. Here's what we gathered.
The five habits
We asked Justin what the first thing is that he does when he gets to church, and here’s what he said, “I take one lap around the entire facility, trying to get a feel for the night. Then I really quickly run through the entire night in my head. I think about the staff meeting, then about worship, and who I can try and connect with before I preach. Then finally I think about what I want to say during the message. If it doesn’t feel right when I see myself speaking, I start to get a feel of what I should say. Then I get started.”
So, Justin doesn’t necessarily envision what he wants to happen, a definition most associated with visualization. Instead, he envisions the night as it is meant to go, giving way to a type of intuition he has learned to adapt.
- Build a team based on stewardship
Teamwork, especially in the church environment, is important in making the mission run in the most impactful way possible. Justin builds his team with a specific vision in mind. Here’s how he explained it:
“I believe that leadership is washing feet, to be the great servant; we take this very seriously. The biggest danger in any kind of non-profit work is to forget why you’re doing the work. So we have been very intentional about finding the right people that have a heart to serve. This is absolutely vital to the culture of your church, and your culture will trump your vision every time. So yes, it is vital to the growth of your church. There is nothing better as a pastor than knowing you have created a safe place that has no ulterior motives--just here to serve.”
Sometimes we look at media personalities and wonder if that’s who they really are without the camera. Questioning someone’s authenticity leaves room for doubt and mistrust--that’s why maintaining authenticity is one of Justin’s most important habits as a person and pastor.“I have done my best to be authentic as a pastor, so that I’m not different out of the building or off-stage. Our faith is not to become something else--it's really to discover who you have always been, who we were created to be. So I try every day to find out more of why I’m on this earth. I definitely learned how to flex that muscle while pastoring, and it has bled into all parts of my life. The biggest habit I’ve learned as a pastor is to be authentic, be myself, that’s enough.”
- Be willing to learn
It’s difficult to feel like you’ve gotten the hang of whatever it is you’re doing, only to have the ground you’re standing on shake, throwing you off balance and leaving you feeling like you have to relearn everything you know. This is the most damaging when we are unwilling to learn and adapt to our constantly changing environment, so that’s why Justin believes we should be willing to learn, always.
“I have found that the best leaders are learners. I like to get around other leaders and ask them how they lead, and if I like what they do and it fits our culture, I’ll definitely give it a try. The second I think I know how all this works is the second know I’m headed for a slump. We have to challenge our way of doing things to stay sharp. At the same time, it is really important to know the culture of your house. Don’t jump on every new thing that looks cool, just because it works for someone doesn’t mean it will work for you.”
Know that growth isn’t the only part of the job
While growing your church is a priority, it shouldn’t be the most important aspect of your leadership role. Growth shouldn’t be what you value most--it’s understanding that it is only part of the job.“I started in full time ministry when I was 19. I was still in college, and I thought this job was about getting as many people as I could to come listen to how great a speaker I was. After my first two years I realized that wasn’t the case. Speaking was actually only 5% of the job. As a pastor we represent hope, and hopefully faith, and love as well. So when you need milk where do you go? To the store that has milk. In the same way, if you represent faith, hope, and love, typically the people who need those things will find you."
Before you go
Growing your church isn’t the most important part of pastoring, nor is it the easiest. But adapting these habits can make the growth process less stressful. If you’re in need of more growth ideas, check out this blog.
As always, SpaceTogether is here to help you grow and be successful. If you have any questions, feel free to click the little blue circle in the bottom right corner.