7 Church Growth Killers to Be Aware Of


As a church leader, you’re understandably focused on achieving the goal of reaching more people and expanding your flock. But in the process, it’s easy to overlook the common church growth killers impeding such efforts. The good news is that eliminating these hindrances makes the path to steady growth much smoother.

7 Top Church Growth Killers to Avoid

The phenomenon of the religious nones might seem like a recent one. However, the decline of Christianity in the US has been an issue since 2019. 

What can you do to slow this trend? How can you bring more people into your congregation? How can you spread your message to those who need to hear it?

For starters, you can avoid these bad habits…

1) Not Having a Solid Brand

Gone are the days when most people just sought out churches in their community. That’s why you need to build a solid church brand. 

Most church leaders don’t think in terms of church branding, and they fail to invest in this area because they assume that churches are separate from businesses and corporations. But in today’s landscape, a change in perspective is essential. 

Start by establishing your vision, mission, and goals—just like any company or organization. You need to clearly communicate your mission and goals to attract those who share the same views.

If you’re not specific enough about your brand, what will differentiate you from other churches? Why will your church members choose you over the others? And will they even look for a church at all unless they feel pulled toward your ideals?

Switching from strategy to strategy without a strong brand is one of the top church growth killers because it confuses your congregation and potential church members. The lack of consistency can make your members skeptical about the real identity of your church.

2) Being Wary of Marketing

Another thing that many church leaders fail to execute properly is marketing in general. Like with branding, there is a misconception that marketing is just for for-profit organizations.

In reality, there are biblical principles of marketing that you can use as guidelines. You don’t have to associate marketing with an evil ploy to get more people to join your church.

By changing your view of marketing, you address one of the top church growth killers and clearly define your marketing goals in the process. A lot of church leaders might be uncomfortable with using the words “target demographic” when growing a church, but it’s required in these modern times.

There are several marketing tools you can employ to facilitate growth in your church. Try incorporating the following ideas into your marketing strategy:

3) Not Using Data

Another one of the top church growth killers is failing to capitalize on data. Depending on the size of your church, you may or may not have a dedicated team for collecting data; but it is what you do with data that truly matters.

Don’t just use data to measure how many members regularly attend your church. Instead, use this data for strategic planning so you can foster a sustainable growth strategy.

The thing with data is that numbers don’t lie. It will always point you to where you are making progress and which areas need to be improved upon.

Suppose you don’t know how to analyze and convert your data into actionable insights. In that case, it is wise to work with a marketing company that specializes in church marketing. That way, you can get the help you need to extract essential data and use it to build a solid strategy to grow your church.  

4) Failing to Meet People Where They Are

What’s the main difference between churches that grow and churches that close? It’s their ability to adapt—and adapt quickly. 

Indeed, early adopters of new technologies and marketing methods tend to come out on top, leaving those who fall behind…well, behind. That’s why one of the leading church growth killers is failing to meet people where they are. 

Most church leaders tend to seek out growth for growth’s sake. However, the success of your growth strategy lies not in having the biggest marketing budget. It is about establishing a life-giving culture that spreads the message of what your church is about. 

The best way to do that is to recognize what your prospective church members need. Churches and ministries on the decline are the ones that have failed to meet the needs of their people. 

Make it a point to heed the need of the people within your ministry. Meeting that deeply felt need triggers the mind and heart to want more from your church.

5) Not Ensuring All Staff/Volunteers Are in Alignment

Decision-making in church leadership plays a vital role in your growth, of course, but the whole unit needs also to be in alignment. Your church is made up of people who must be cared for, developed, and invested in to contribute to your growth.

And don’t just think in terms of your staff. According to Volunteer Hub, 1 out of 4 Americans volunteer. And research from Gallup found that 35% of Americans volunteered for a religious organization last year.  

Volunteers also play a crucial role in facilitating the growth of your church. Therefore, your inability to align them with your mission and goals could be one of your top church growth killers.

Take time to sit down and actively participate in the work that your staff and volunteers are doing. This will ensure that everyone is in alignment with your church’s goals.

6) Sticking with Outdated Methods

Close-up of man putting money in church donation plate, an example of one of the church growth killers.

Another church growth killer is the refusal of many church leaders to adopt new marketing methods. For example, relying on in-person donation and services is not going to give you much reach. It is also common among many pastors and church leaders to assume that their existing members will bring in new people. 

As a leader, it is your responsibility to adopt new methods and technologies available to you. Increase your social media presence. Take it a notch further by creating a website that makes it easy for prospects to access information about your church. 

You can’t be old-fashioned in a modern era if you are serious about growing your church. 

7) Not Answering Questions or Discussing Things People Want to Know

Many people in the church, especially the younger ones whose social developments are often shaped by social media rather than genuine human interactions, are afraid to speak up or ask questions. This can be made worse when church leaders are not encouraging in terms of asking questions or seeking out information. It’s why many turn to the internet to answer questions about their faith.

As this is one of the main church growth killers, it’s important that you instead make active listening a habit in your church. 

Encourage the members of your congregation to be curious. Make them feel that they shouldn’t be intimidated by the church leaders or judged for asking in the first place. And allow people to get the information they need easily by distributing it online.

Asking questions and making your members feel as though they can openly discuss the matters that are important to them gives you the opportunity to foster a stronger relationship with them. It will also keep your church relevant by ensuring you are consistently addressing what people actually want to know.

Final Thoughts

Now that we’ve identified the habits that are becoming church growth killers, you can make the adjustments needed in your organization. If you commit to these adjustments, you will see a big difference in your growth.

You can simplify your growth strategy with the help of a marketing company that is dedicated to growing your church ministry. With this move, you can mobilize your strategy so you can see your congregation grow over time.
Learn more about Viral Solutions’ church marketing services so you can watch your church flourish!


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Filed Under: Business Tips, Church Marketing