My response to Perry Noble’s “8 reasons why some churches don’t grow.” #1

Perry Noble is the founding and senior pastor of NewSpring Church in Anderson, Greenville and Florence, South Carolina. At just nine years old, the church averages over 10,000 people. Perry wrote an article on why some churches don’t grow. Perry’s article can be found here:

This is not intended to be a personal criticism of Perry (I don’t know Perry and I’m assuming he’s a great guy with a great multi-site church) but because his reasons why some churches do not grow are shared by many I thought I’d respond to these popular attempts to explain why churches don’t grow and the underlying assumption that if these reasons can be corrected then the church will grow.

Perry reason #1: The Vision Is Not Clear

If people don’t know where a church is supposed to be going…then it will attempt to go everywhere and eventually wind up nowhere.  (Interesting experiment–ask people this coming Sunday at your church, “What is our vision” and see if people give you the same answers or different ones.)

Dave: What about the churches that do have a clear vision and aren’t growing? Granted, a pastor and his leaders need to know what they will focus on and why (vision), but what if the reason why people cannot articulate the church vision is because they don’t really think about such things, or simply don’t care? Oftentimes those who want to know “What is the vision of our church?” have a bone to pick.

I think “vision” is important. I believe that the “vision” needs to be written down, i.e. vision statement. I regularly help pastors and their boards do such things. Now don’t shoot me for what I’m about to say but our focus on vision statements and mission statements have come from a western business model introduced into the church through the Church Growth Movement of the 80’s and 90’s. I’m not saying this is bad, all I’m saying is…remember the origins.

I once heard a denominational leader say, “If your church isn’t growing it’s because you do not have a clear and well articulated vision.” Notice the two assumptions with that statement:

1. The vision needs to be articulated to the people.

I’m not sure this is as essential as we’ve been led to believe. The rank-and-file are looking for good teaching, good worship, a loving community, something decent for their children, and some kind of outreach focus. Sure, the “vision” might be what’s driving some of those things but many pastors and their churches do these things intuitively and their people follow along happy with their experience and feel no need for a six part sermon series entitled: “Where we’re going in 2012, our vision statement for the future.” The second assumption…

2. If you have a clear and well-articulated vision your church will grow.

I know a lot of churches and I talk to a lot of pastors that have a clear, well-articulated vision but are still not experiencing much growth. So what’s up with that?

So let me summarize. The pastor and his/her leaders need to know what the church is going to focus on and why. People are probably less interested in the specifics of this than we’d like to admit. And, assuming that the lack of a clear vision is why many churches do not grow is an assumption.

What do you think?

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