Why Most Churches Struggle
About 20 years ago I read the book E-Myth Revisited. It is a guide to success for small business owners. In the beginning of the book, the author Michael E. Gerber quotes the well-known failure-rate statistics for small business: 40% fail in 1 year. Of those who survive 1year, 80% fail in 5 years, and of those who survive 5 years, another 80% fail. Over the years, Gerber observed that the small business owners who fail often share a number of characteristics, while those who succeed take a different approach. I remember thinking to myself at the time that the small business owner and the pastor of a small/medium church and the leaders of Christian ministry organisations were remarkably similar.
Since that time I have worked with hundreds of pastors and ministry leaders and that initial thought still remains. One of Gerber’s most striking observations is that most small businesses are started by “technicians”, people who are skilled at something or have had some success at something and enjoy doing that thing. When these technicians strike out on their own they tend to continue doing the work the way they have enjoyed doing it in the past, and ignore the overarching organisational aspects of their business. Without clear goals and outcomes they soon find themselves overworked, understaffed, and eventually broke. Worst of all, they may come to hate the work they do. Rather than owning a business, they own a job, and they find themselves working for leaders who are completely clueless about how to run a business – themselves.
This is an important topic because over 90 percent of all the churches and ministries in the world stop growing before they get to 200 people. It’s not that pastors and ministry leaders don’t have a desire to reach people with the gospel and see their churches/ministries grow. In fact, in my experience, it’s the opposite. Unfortunately these “technicians” give in to the temptation to ask the question, “How do I get the church to grow”, placing the responsibility for growth on their shoulders. This causes them to work harder doing the things they have enjoyed doing in the past. The only thing this cyclic process produces is damage to them (and often the people around them).
The reality is that all healthy organisms grow so a better question is, “What is keeping the church from growing?” If the church is stuck, what obstacles are inhibiting growth? This is the question that is now being asked by leaders all over the world and the question that is helping leaders both change inhibiting mindsets that are stopping growth and also navigate their way forward. We believe the best way to achieve this lasting change takes place when understanding is followed by action and accountability, and this happens best when we have someone walk beside us
To help with this journey, we have developed a series of One-Page-Coaching-Storyboards that condense what is known about breaking through growth barriers. These resources ensure that you and your leadership are literally on the same page and allow for mutual growth.
Colin Noyes is the Director of ResourceZone International. He has thirty-five years of ministry experience as a pastor, college lecturer and consultant/coach to consultants, denominational leaders and local church pastors. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org