Author Archives: Mr. Marker

12 lessons I’ve learned about church growth

I have been privileged to serve as pastor of three churches. 28 years as a Senior Pastor will teach you a few things. Here are some of the lessons I have learned about church growth.

In order to experience growth:

1. You MUST define yourself as a church. What kind of church are you going to be? Will you be a church that exists primarily for church-goers or a church for the unchurched? The difference is huge. Here’s one way to determine what kind of church you are. Answer this question: Are we growing because of move-ins and transfers of Christians from other churches or are we growing because we are winning brand new people to Christ?

2. You MUST be willing to LOSE in order to gain. As hard as it is, when you define what kind of church you will be, some people will leave. Don’t give up and don’t blame yourself. Some losses are necessary for the vision to move forward. Once you get over the initial shock, the reality of necessary losses will be revealed. Some of our best gains have been losses. The toughest part for us was the temporary loss of money but that was quickly replaced.

3. You MUST obsess over a focused vision. Everybody say it with me, “Focused vision.” The whole church must be obsessed with a very defined, “one track mind” vision. Too often we chase multiple visions and accomplish little because we are spreading our efforts and resources too thin. Seek ONE vision and go all in for it. Make sure every ministry in your church is chasing the same vision. And remember the number one habit of highly successful people…begin with the end in mind.

4. You MUST have a team mentality. The synergy of a group of people working together for a common goal is invaluable. As a pastor, I may be the primary vision caster but I have learned that there are people on my team who have better ideas, clearer understanding and knowledge, and who are gifted where I am not. Don’t shortchange the vision by being selfish with it. Together we are better.

5. You MUST speak the same language in every area of ministry. The language spoken in the sanctuary must be the one spoken in the Children’s Ministry and the Student Ministry and the Small Groups Ministry. There cannot be an “isolated towers” mentality. The vision for growth must be common to every department. We have learned that catchphrases are important. One of the statements you will hear constantly at Landmark is, “God has a plan. It’s brilliant and I am in it!” Our vision statement is simple and repeatable, “We exist to share the hope of Jesus Christ with everyone, everywhere, everyday.”

6. You MUST preach the Gospel. The Good News has to be central to everything you do if you are to grow a healthy, vibrant church. I have found that people who have lost their way and who are desperately trying to find purpose in life don’t give a hoot about our doctrines. They want hope, love and acceptance. Living out the Gospel accomplishes that. Present Jesus to them now. The other stuff will take care of itself when the time comes.

7. You MUST be transparent. Don’t try to come across as some super Christian. Admit you struggle with things. Show you are just as human as they are. Be open and honest. People appreciate that more than you know. Not only that, they can spot a hypocrite a mile away.

8. You MUST know the heartbeat of your community. Get out in the streets and talk to people. Get to know your neighbors. Work among them and listen to what they are saying. More importantly, listen to what they are not saying. Find the felt needs and figure out a way to minister to those needs. Win them to YOU so you can lead them to HIM.

9. You MUST think outside the box. For years I was confined in a denominational expectation box. It was only when I stepped out of that box that our church began to prosper. Its not that the organization was/is a bad thing but the pressure to perform one way and one way only did not allow for organic growth. Programs are good but only to a certain extent. At some point you have to take into account your local circumstances and culture and recognize that a model that works in one place may not work in another.

10. You MUST be willing to change. Status quo may be comfortable but it is not conducive to growth. You have to inventory your programs and methods and be willing to let them die or just kill them outright if they are not contributing in the pursuit of your vision. Some sacred cows need to be de-horned and removed from “idol” status. If they aren’t helping they are taking away from something that would.

11. You MUST allow your spouse to live into his/her calling. My wife is gifted in so many areas. Her gifts and talents stand in contrast to mine so we complement each other in ministry. Sir, you need to release your wife and let her be who God intended her to be. If you do, your whole life and ministry will profit.

12. You MUST not measure yourself against another church or ministry. Pursue your own vision and don’t worry about what others are thinking or saying. Understand that haters are going to hate, critics are going to criticize, and naysayers are going to naysay. Don’t let them distract you from going after what God has placed in front of you. Remember, God has a plan. It’s brilliant and YOU are in it!

Baker’s Dozen

13. You MUST market the vision. Learn how to communicate a vision. Write it down in big block letters. Use every technology available. Get on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Advertise it, proclaim it, shout it from the rooftops. As a matter of fact, do anything short of sin to get the word out in your community. Have block parties, giveaways, and eating meetings. One of our greatest tools of evangelism is food.

Obviously this is not a comprehensive list but its a good place to start.

One of my favorite SafeHouse moments

There are so many special moments at our SafeHouse events.  None are more special than watching the children.


Thanks to Ronda Gunter.


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