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September 7, 2017

Developing a Healthy Church

By Daniel Im

The Bell Curve

A bell curve is a normal distribution curve with a large rounded peak that tapers away at each end. Many organizations, churches included, experience some sort of bell curve in their lifetime. They start off steady, pick up some momentum, but eventually will decline due to pride and lack of innovation. They go from birth, to vitality, and then to death.

In this Ministry Grid video, Bob Russell shares how churches fall into the bell curve and how to avoid going down that slippery slope. Businesses are born out of a sense of need and there is a strong commitment of time and resources to accomplish a task. Bob says there’s enthusiasm and numerical and personal financial growth as momentum builds and the company develops a reputation in the community. But eventually, they reach a danger point. They become prideful in what they’ve accomplished.

Scripture says that pride comes before destruction, and an arrogant spirit before a fall (Prov. 16:18). When people become proud of their tradition they spend more time looking through the rearview mirror instead of the windshield. They neglect to look toward the future. They are stuck in a perpetual state of tradition that suffocates their ability to look ahead and grow. They then experience a slow decline in participation and finances.

Bob goes on to say that after a period of time a disconcerting mood sets in. There’s an indifference and disharmony amongst members. People become passive rather than enthusiastic, cynical instead of passionate. They become disenchanted altogether because they’ve lost sight of the mission.

How can leaders of the church keep the church in a dynamic phase of commitment and growth?

Once you get on the downside of that curve, it is very hard to reverse that momentum. Though it is extremely difficult, it can be done. It almost always takes a brutal redefining of reality and a dramatic shock to the system for churches to turn themselves around. Sometimes this means a new location or new leadership.

To read the remainder of this article, and to listen to the entire video training with Bob Russell, click here for the full video and post.

This video is part of Plus Membership. To get full access to it, and much more, I encourage you to become a Plus Member. Click here to see all the benefits of becoming a Plus Member.


  • “When people become proud of their tradition they spend more time looking through the rearview mirror instead of the windshield. They neglect to look towards the future.” – @BobRussellKY‬
  • “History is only the pattern of silken slippers descending the stairs to the thunder of hobnailed boots climbing upward from below.”-Voltaire
  • “Pride comes before destruction, and an arrogant spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 16:18
  • “There’s birth, vision, growth, harmony, enthusiasm, pride, tradition, decline, indifference, cynicism, and death.”- @BobRussellKY‬


Daniel Im

Daniel Im (@danielsangi) is the Director of Church Multiplication for NewChurches.com at LifeWay Christian Resources. He is a Teaching Pastor at The Fellowship, a multisite church in Nashville. He is the author of No Silver Bullets: Five Small Shifts that will Transform Your Ministry, and co-author of Planting Missional Churches: Your Guide to Starting Churches that Multiply (2nd ed) with Ed Stetzer. He also co-hosts the New Churches Q&A Podcast, the 5 Leadership Questions Podcast, and a brand new podcast with his wife on marriage and parenting called the IMbetween Podcast. He has an M.A. in Global Leadership and has served and pastored in church plants and multisite churches ranging from 100 people to 50,000 people in Vancouver, Ottawa, Montreal, Korea, Edmonton, and Nashville. Visit Danielim.com to learn more.


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