Discovering Bottlenecks in your Church





Whenever I work with churches who are stuck, I start with tools to help bring perspective to the team. When teams discover where the bottlenecks are, they can begin to build and implement plans to break through the gridlock. One tool I use is called Discovery. This tool helps churches identify four specific people groups and then asks for the percentage of each group as they exist in the church. The people groups are: 

  • Non-Christian
  • New Christian
  • Growing Christian 
  • Mature Christian

Traditional-Style Churches

While percentages vary, the church’s worship and preaching style normally determines a predictable outcome. For example, a church with traditional worship and preaching styles usually end up with numbers like this:


Non-Christian
New Christian
Growing Christian
Mature Christian
3%
2%
15%
80%


Many times, these numbers are given proudly as the team believes this indicates solid Bible teaching because they consider the spiritually mature the highest percentage of their congregation. However, this also indicates something else.  There are few guest attending, which results in a low percentage of new believers and growing Christians. And if 80% are really spiritually mature, why aren't they reaching new people?


Contemporary, Attractional Churches

Churches with contemporary worship and preaching styles usually land on different numbers. If they’re trying to reach today’s generation, their numbers often look like this: 

Non-Christian
New Christian
Growing Christian
Mature Christian
50%
20%
10%
20%



These numbers may be given with some bragging about reaching new unchurched people. However, we also see a low percentage of growing and spiritually mature Christians. This reveals the church is attractional and reaching a lot of new unchurched people; many begin following Jesus, but there is a lack of disciple-making intentionality. Chances are, there are holes in their assimilation and a weak or missing discipleship pathway. 


Once I have gathered the data, I ask the team, “If you could wave a wand, what would you want your percentages to look like?” Regardless of whether the church is traditional or contemporary, usually the New Christian or the Mature Christian get the numbers, again, causing one or two people groups to become top heavy. 


So what does a healthy church look like? 


Healthy Church


Non-Christian
New Christian
Growing Christian
Mature Christian
25%
25%
25%
25%



These numbers indicate good healthy movement. It tells us there is a strong invite culture, clear gospel presentation, easy next steps and disciple-making intentionality. When a church is top heavy in the Mature Christian box, it indicates a lack of reaching new people, as well as a low percentage of new people following Jesus. When the New Christian box is top heavy, it shows a lack of on-ramps for spiritual growth. Obviously it’s tough to create strategies and plans to build a perfect score card, but it should be our goal. Movement matters because discipleship isn’t a place; discipleship is a journey. 



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