My Response to Perry Noble’s “8 reasons why some churches don’t grow.” #2

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 underlining assumption that if these reasons can be corrected then the church will grow.

Perry reason #2 The Focus Is on Trying to Please Everyone. Perry says: 

There is NO church on the planet that will make everyone happy every single week…and…according to the Scriptures that isn’t really supposed to be our obsession.  Too many times we become so concerned with offending people that we actually offend Jesus.

Dave: Well I’ll give Perry some credit, he does have a point…to a certain degree. First, I don’t personally know any pastor whose “focus is on trying to please everyone”. If we’re honest, however, we would all admit that we struggle with this a bit. I’ve had pastors of smaller churches shamefully admit two things to me:

1. “I’m a “people-pleaser” by nature, it gets me in trouble sometimes, I need to work on that.” And…

2. “I wish this wasn’t the case but in the back of my mind I know if I displease someone they might leave. If they leave they will take their money with them. If they are significant givers this could affect my paycheck and right now my family is barely getting by. If they leave they will leave a hole behind in their ministry that we will struggle to fill. If they leave they might take someone with them. I know I shouldn’t think this way but it’s hard not to.”

Now I’m not saying this is true of Perry, I’m sure it’s not, but if you’ve got a church of 10,000 you can afford to be cocky, have a “my way or the highway” kind of attitude. You can offend a lot of people and have many leave before it will affect you personally. When a large church is in decline they start laying off staff. The senior pastor is the last to go. Plus, I can guarantee you that a large church, especially one of 10,000, is very “market-driven” which is nothing but a more acceptable way of saying, “focus is on trying to please everyone”.

But it all comes down to this. If trying to keep everyone happy is the reason why some churches don’t grow then how does one explain the lack of growth or the slow growth of those churches (the majority of smaller churches, I might add) that are not focused on keeping everyone happy?

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