There are many mistakes that will slow your church’s expansion, but there is one mistake that is bigger than all the other hindrances to church growth.
In this article, we’re going to talk about an inward focus and how to keep it from stopping your church’s growth.
The Mother Of All Hindrances To Church Growth
Inward-focused ministries are unknowingly killing their own church growth efforts. You may be thinking that this issue does not apply to your church, but it is much more common than many pastors would expect.
Consider the questions below:
- How do we get more people into the church?
- How do we increase tithes and offerings?
- How do we recruit more volunteers and avoid church burnout?
- How do we get more people to the core of the church?
If you or your ministry team have asked these questions before, then your church may be suffering from an inward focus. An inward focus in your church is the greatest hindrance to church growth that exists.
Having an inward focus does not necessarily mean that your church is self-centered, rather, it is indicative of an underlying scarcity mentality.
A scarcity mentality occurs when ministry leaders believe that they are lacking the necessary resources to sustain or grow their ministry.
This naturally shifts the focus of ministry leaders away from the needs of their community and toward their own unmet needs.
Although the inward focus is one of the biggest hindrances to church growth, it is also completely understandable. If the church cannot provide for itself, how can it support others? At the same time, just because a church doesn’t currently have all the resources it needs doesn’t mean that it must turn its focus inward.
In fact, the answer to the problem is to do the opposite and keep the ministry team’s focus facing outward.
Believe it or not, there is a world where people will flock to your church to the point you won’t be able to seat them all. There is a world where people will tithe so much you won’t know what to do with the money and there is a world where you have to limit the number of your volunteers because there are too many people offering to support your ministry.
We know this because we work with ministries that have been able to see these results, and now I am going to share what they did to get to that point.
How Does a Church Grow?
I once went to a mid-sized church, and the auditorium was packed in the most unusual way. The people were sitting shoulder to shoulder on the ground.
When I saw this room full of people sitting cross-legged on the ground, with no lights, no microphone, and no electricity, I began to think that I had stumbled upon some kind of cult.
I later learned that the reason all these people were sitting on the ground was because the church had a missions team building a church in Africa, and the church leaders committed completely to the vision of providing the new church with everything it needed.
If the congregation wanted chairs, then they would also have to get chairs for the church plant so that those people wouldn’t have to sit in the dirt.
If they wanted microphones to hear the pastor speak, then they’d also have to get microphones for the other church.
This was the same with lights, speakers, instruments, etc.
The church in Africa had been close enough to town that it was possible for them to get all these things, so it was only a matter of getting enough funds.
That experience stuck with me for a long time, as I kept wondering why a church with such an extreme ministry position was growing at such a fast rate. Since the conditions there were so uncomfortable, why didn’t the congregation just go to a different church?
More importantly, why was their church growing?
Not only were they avoiding hindrances to church growth, but they were also growing like crazy.
In this example, I saw a church that had such powerful growth they barely had room for everyone. It took me years to figure out what they had been doing to achieve this type of growth.
It was only after I saw what was happening at another church that I finally understood what eliminated hindrances to church growth and then increased church growth at the same time.
On a separate occasion, I was working with a women’s thrift store ministry. They needed some help with marketing, and I asked them if they also needed more volunteers. To my surprise, they answered that they had more volunteers than they needed, to the point where they had to turn people away.
Why were so many people eager about serving in the church?
I discovered that they didn’t have enough space to store all the donated clothing, which was something that many would initially perceive as a limitation. This ministry turned their “limitation” into one of their greatest advantages.
Because they didn’t have enough space to hold on to all the clothing, they began to give away what was left by the end of the day to their volunteers. As it turned out, receiving those clothes met the volunteers’ needs, so they were willing to make a commitment to serve in the ministry.
This began a cycle where the single moms, elderly women, and widows whose needs had been met by the thrift store also wanted to volunteer as church helpers.
If you’d like to learn more about motivating your church members to get involved, check out our other article titled: Church Marketing Strategy: Get Your Audience To Take Action Now 
The common thread between the two ministries in our examples and the secret to their success is that they were meeting people’s needs.
But the most important question is, does the Bible support this principle of meeting people’s needs to create growth in your ministry?
In Matthew 4:25, Jesus is followed by large crowds all across the Judean wilderness. How is He attracting all these people, AND getting them to stay for the journey?
The Bible tells us (Matthew 4:23-24) that Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching and healing the people. At some point, the people started coming to Him, bringing their friends who were also ill, paralyzed, or demon-possessed. In other words, people were coming to Jesus with a need, and when He met that need, His ministry grew.
When your ministry focuses outward on the needs of others, they will come to you.
*If you like this article and want to know more about church growth, check out our post, 10 Most Powerful Church Growth Strategies.
Bringing Growth Back to Your Ministry
To tie it all together, having an outward focus is all about looking for others’ needs and fulfilling them. This does not mean that your church’s own needs will be forgotten, but rather, through the process of blessing others, you yourself will be blessed.
In psychology, there is a well-documented phenomenon called the rule of reciprocity. This rule states that when people feel that their needs have been freely met, they then have a compulsion to bless you in return.
This can translate to having new visitors at your church, more dedicated congregation members, or even more volunteers.
Putting an emphasis on meeting people’s needs is one of the most effective church growth strategies, and Jesus used it in His ministry all the time.
While an inward focus can kill your church’s growth, an outward focus can greatly increase it.
So if you were wondering how to grow your church, the first step is to shift your focus!
If you enjoyed this article about the biggest hindrances to church growth and the secret of church growth, you might also want to check out The 10 Best Biblical Church Growth Strategies .
Comment below and let us know where an inward focus has crept into your ministry.
And don’t forget to watch our video to gain more insight into an inward focus!