Fletcher, Overcoming Barriers to Church Growth

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Michael Fletcher, Overcoming Barriers to Church Growth: Proven Strategies for Taking Your Church to the Next Level. Bethany House, 2009.

Referenced in: Church Leadership – Size Dynamics and Transitions

LifeandLeadership Summary

This is perhaps the best one source available describing the internal structural changes churches must make in order to grow. Elder-led churches will benefit especially.

The author, Michael Fletcher, is senior pastor of Manna Church in Fayetteville, North Carolina, which under his 20-year leadership has grown from 400 to 4,000 active members. According to Fletcher:

On the road to becoming a megachurch there are three key stages of leadership structures or configurations and two major transition points. Tension mounts as these transition points are approached. These times of tension, interestingly enough, occur at the same point as the major growth barriers. If pastors and leaders properly anticipate these transitions and adjust appropriately, stress can be reduced and leadership teams can work together to experience growth instead of working against each other. (20)

The two major transition points are the 100/200 barrier (small church to medium church) and the 700/800 barrier (medium church to large church). In the small church, Leadership Structure #1 is already in place, but must shift to Leadership Structure #2 for effective transition to the medium church. For the medium size church to transition to the large church, it must shift to Leadership Structure #3.

The Leadership Structure issues are summed up in three questions that are specifically related to the changing roles of church elders:

  1. What is the elders’ relation to the ministry?
  2. Who does the ministry?
  3. Who makes the decisions?

These issues are laid out in a helpful chart, which is developed more extensively in the following chapters. For elder-led churches, this section is priceless.

In addition, Fletcher discusses the role of the senior minister in finding and articulating God’s vision for a congregation. His “threefold law of vision” includes:

  • The Law of Articulation – giving the vision lucid and memorable expression
  • The Law of Unification – uniting the people around the vision
  • The Law of Mobilization – mobilizing members to help carry it out

This is a very useful text, especially for churches with elder-led church governance.

From the Publisher

Passionate about church growth, Michael Fletcher understands the obstacles pastors and church leaders face as they reach 100/200 and 700/800-member barriers. In clear language he lays out practical steps churches can follow to achieve the growth they desire. His strategies have proved effective not only in his church, which has grown dramatically, but also in the churches of Grace Churches International, a worldwide network of 315-plus churches that he leads.

Each local church is unique and has its own personality. But almost every congregation will face the same numerical barriers, according to decades of church growth research. These barriers can sidetrack good churches and leave their pastors and leadership teams wondering why attendance has slowed, plateaued, or even declined.

Drawing from tried and true success with his own church and from years of working with other churches worldwide, Michael Fletcher explains that internal changes—not external—are the key to clearing these hurdles.

Inside, you will learn:

  • The points where active membership ordinarily stalls out
  • The changing roles of pastors and leadership teams at each growth stage
  • How to facilitate strong relationships within the congregation
  • Ways for churches to jumpstart their ministries…and more

Throughout, Fletcher emphasizes that growing attendance numbers is not the goal. Instead, it is all about growing people and extending God’s kingdom on earth.

About the Author

Michael Fletcher is the senior pastor of Manna Church in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and leads Grace Churches International, a network of 189 churches in 43 countries. Since Michael became pastor of Manna in 1985, it has grown from 350 to 4,000 active members. He has a passion to see other pastors step beyond their current leadership barriers and see their churches become all God intends for them. He and his wife, Laura, have eight “world changers” and make their home in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

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