Growing Church Challenges

Posted: February 24, 2012 in GCC, Grace Capital Church, megachurch, multi-site churches, People, post-christian, Uncategorized
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I’ve always been amazed at how some pastors can seem to manage massive growth in their churches.  We are in New England where mega-churches are more myth than reality.  Often I’ve thought if that has more to do with the post-Christian landscape of the northeast, but lately I’m wondering if it’s more to do with a higher emphasis on community and being real than some of our big city and Bible belt neighbors.

I can’t imagine being a pastor that is unfamiliar with a vast number of the folks who I am called to lead.  I know that some would say that I really have to change and get over the fact that if we want our church to grow into the thousands then I have to look at my role as more of a pastor of leaders or CEO type than a shepherd/teacher.  I just can’t do it.  Yet for some strange reason we have seen our church continue to grow and now are moving into a multi-site model of ministry that keeps our pastors knowing the people who we serve.

Have you ever felt like you have to compromise who you are as a pastor to grow the church?  I like knowing people’s names, although I am not really great at it, especially as we have seen growth.  So should I just face the fact that I can’t know everyone and stop trying?  Instead I encourage the church as a whole to be relationally driven. True, I can’t take everyone out for coffee, but I can some.  Andy Stanley recently said in a message I heard, “do for one what you wish you could do for many.”  To me, that’s the heart of a pastor.

I want to be normal, not supernatural or separated from the people I am called to pastor.  I don’t want to run backstage after the service or be whisked away by bodyguards because I’m so in demand.  Yet, I desperately want to see our church grow with new believers who are becoming followers of Jesus.  Growth is good when it’s not about me.  So maybe I do have to get over my tendency to want to know everyone and just get on with breeding a culture of community that includes my limitations.  Growth will never take the pastor out of who I am.


  1. Mark Warren says:

    I am always reminded that we cannot look at “models” for church growth and expect them to work in every location in and every community. Its important to look at who God has called our church to reach and how our church is positioned in your community, to function with its unique and greatest contribution. Bottom line, we are called to serve people, not buildings, program or even a make name for ourselves. We as Pastors to called to follow Jesus and lead others to Him.

  2. Shane Riff says:

    Great post Peter! This why Wanda and I love you guys so much… your heart for people. I have come to fully believe that church “growth” is something that is the Lords responsibility, after all it was Jesus who said “I will build MY church.” Not that we sit idle or complacent and yes, He certainly uses peoples giftings and talents, but even those are ultimately His, entrusted to us to simply steward well as He leads. As Pastors we must always be “people” focused not “church growth” focused. One of my favorite verses from scripture, is the words of Paul in 1Thesselonians 2:19, “For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?” His greatest treasure was those God entrusted to his care, may it be ours again as well. I am certainly NOT anti mega/large church, but “church growth” has become almost an idolatrous pursuit in the hearts of far to many who are called Pastor.

  3. Ann Marie Shover says:

    Pastor Peter- I love who you are as a pastor

    God has and will continue to use you to move mightily in NH and beyond. This may be hard to imagine but it is like God has cut you and our current pastor (Marty Martin – Northstar church in Panama City FL) from the same cloth. The two churches started at almost the exact same time & have had the same growth patterns. His sermons are sometimes exactly yours word for word! We are at 4 services and will soon add a campus just east of the current location. Numbers are in the 2-3000 range – somehow he has still managed to stay real and as personal as you can be to 1000s. His wife was being treated for breast cancer last year & he was so transparent as they went thru that. I know whatever happens w GCC that God will show you & you will listen & obey. I still pray for you all, for Crosspoint & all that God is doing up there & even here in the Bible belt. I think us “cold” new englanders have a thing or two to teach southerners about authenticity! Lots of people may go to church down here but it’s hard to find people who aren’t afraid to keep it real. That’s one of the things I loved the most about GCC!! Miss you all!!

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