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The Nine Leverage Points of Growth
By: Bill Easum

Twenty years of consulting has taught me there are nine leverage points in either growing a faithful, biblical church or turning around a dying church. Understanding and applying these leverage points in their order of importance makes everything else much easier.

For example, we know that the easiest way to grow a church is by starting another service of worship. However, if the first two leverage points are in place, starting that service may become a disaster. However, if the first two leverage points are in place, starting another service will be a piece of cake.

I’m going to discuss these leverage points in the order of their chronological importance. When they are accomplished in this order, transformation or innovation happens easier and without as much resistance. 

1. A Solid Community of Faith
 Four ingredients stand out in a solid community of faith:

• Individuals who are growing spiritually
• The congregation and staff function around trust
• The congregation is absent of any ongoing conflict
• The leaders have a passionate desire to reach out to the unreached

The bottom line of the faithful church is seen in its radical desire to be a blessing to their community and the world in order that they know Jesus.

2. An Owned and Managed Mission Statement
When conflict is absent and spiritual leaders function around trust in order to transform the world, it is easy to articulate the DNA of the church.

Many churches have a mission statement, but it is seldom owned and managed. By that I mean that most mission statements are too long and convoluted to be remembered, much less used as a guideline for making decisions. So, most mission statements reside on some shelf in the office gathering dust. An owned and managed mission statement is one that directs every decision a church makes.

3. Indigenous Worship
When a church is clear about why it exists, starting new worship services is a natural step forward.

For worship to be indigenous, it must be in the language, technology, and culture of the people you are trying to reach. Worship in most dying churches is indigenous to the last century and fails to bring most people today into God’s presence. Indigenous worship transforms people because it is safe place to hear a dangerous Gospel. Worship that isn’t indigenous to our times doesn’t transform people because it is a dangerous place to hear a safe Gospel.

4.  A Mobilized Congregation
When a congregation is free from major ongoing conflict and indigenous worship is in place, it’s time to mobilize the congregation for ministry. Mobilizing a congregation is much different from coordinating volunteers. Coordinating volunteers results in 20% of the people doing 80% of the work. Mobilizing a congregation often results in 80% of the people being involved in ministry. Seven systems are involved in mobilizing a congregation: identifying, inviting, recruiting, discerning, equipping, deploying, and coaching

5. Redemptive Missional Opportunities
The goal of a faithful church is not get people involved in programs and meetings but to encourage them to become missionaries to their community. Faithful churches do not have mission committees; everything the faithful church does is missions. The key here is that all outreach the church attempts has a redemptive element to it. 

Faithful churches do not do outreach ministries just to do them; they do them in order to change both society and the lives of the people they touch. Dying churches usually do outreach ministry without any redemptive element attached. They may have a food pantry, but they don’t offer Christ along with the food. Faithful churches know that feeding the poor is important, but feeding their soul is equally important.

6. Organizing Around the DNA
Restructuring never causes a church to grow, but structure can hinder the growth of a church. The key to restructuring is the old adage, “Form follows function.” The mission of the congregation should determine how the congregation is organized. This means that no one organizational system will work for all congregations even if they are in the same denomination.

These first five leverage points are the heart of a faithful, biblical church. The next four leverage points play a supportive role to these first five.

7. Staffing for Growth
A congregation’s most important assets are the gifts, skills, and passion quotient of the paid and unpaid staff. How a church staffs, and what it expects the staff to accomplish, is one of the most important decisions church leaders can make. It is critical the lead pastor set out clear expectations of all staff and lovingly hold them accountable. A mistake here throws out of balance everything else the congregation attempts.

The primary role of staff in a faithful church is to equip the congregation or the work of ministry.  Staff functions as scouts and coaches rather than doers of ministry, and the first and most important staff a church hires, other than the pastor, is a full-time worship leader.

8. The Importance of Space and Place
The larger a church grows, the more space has the potential to determine its growth. For example, once a church approaches 700 or 800 hundred in worship, parking becomes an ever-present challenge. But, faithful churches never allow space to determine the scope of their ministry. Instead, they look for ways to continue to expand their influence by:

• Giving people away to plant churches
• Relocating
• Purchasing more property
• Becoming multi-site
• Any other possibility they can dream up

9. Radical Generosity
Finance is the last leverage point because it seldom plays a large part in transformation or innovation.  The abundance or lack of money is usually directly related to the way a congregation approaches the first and fourth leverage point. Develop strong spiritual giants who are involved in mission and money is seldom your primary leverage point.

Radical Generosity is the result of six things:

• A clear and compelling mission
• Trust between the congregation and the leaders
• Relevancy of the mission
• Personal involvement in the mission to which the person is giving. If you are consistently working the fourth unfreezing move, you already know this.
• People whose lives are shaped by the Gospel.
• Leaders who role model stewardship of money

Bill Easum is president of 21st Century Strategies, Inc. a full service church consulting group since 1987 whose mission is to equip Christian for global impact. You can learn more about 21st Century Strategies at www.churchconsultations.com. He is a consultant, author, ex-pastor, futurist, husband, and father, who enjoys releasing Billfish. You can reach him at easum@aol.com and keep up with him at his blog, www.billeasum.com.

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