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September 22, 2018

Moving Beyond the 125 Person Growth Barrier

By New Churches Team

Several barriers may stagnate growth for a new church.

Church plants often see these barriers when their congregations reach 35 people, 75 people, 125 people, and 200 people. These intervals are the places at which the church is most likely to plateau in growth.

Generally, the 125 person barrier serves as a turning point in structure and growth for churches. Here are four ways to push past this barrier:

  1. Increase buy-in:

When your church reaches roughly 125 regular attendees, the first thing you as pastor should focus on is increasing buy-in. What does that mean? Likely, there are between 20 or 30 members of your church who are currently taking ownership of different ministries and services. You want to increase that number from 20 to 100. This is no easy task because it requires a fundamental culture change.

  1. Equip and empower those you lead:

The best way to go about this culture change is to equip and empower leaders of leaders. To break the 125 person barrier, you want to have 5-10 leaders and 4-5 leaders of leaders. This means that your small groups co-ordinator, your children’s ministry director, the leader of your greeting team, and others are not staff members. Rather, they’re church members who have bought in and are leading others in running church programs.

Intentionally, and strategically, develop these leaders so that you can push things off of your pastoral plate and utilize the leadership capacity of others to help foster a sense of ownership in your church and its ministries. Not sure where to get started in leadership development? Developing a leadership pipeline provides a continuity of leadership when someone steps out of a role or when you need more help.

  1. Focus on serving the lost and on developing leaders:

Over time, your congregation’s needs will catch up to its size, and pastoral care needs will expand. You will need to focus on ministering to the lost and developing leaders. You will not have the time to focus on everything and everyone, so have an outward focused approach to reach the lost and be disciplined in developing your church leaders. You cannot run the entire church yourself; 125 people is a lot of people.

  1. Build church systems and structure:

Due to the size of your congregation, recognize that you must build systems and structures to continue growth. One reason that most churches don’t break the 125 barrier is due to the pastor not being equipped to think in systems approaches.  But, when a church cannot implement these systems, its reach and impact is going to be limited to the reach and impact of its pastor.

Build systems of care, leadership development, and more, so that these duties do not fall solely on the pastor. And remember that when it comes to systems, you don’t need to be an entrepreneur; you just need to be a franchisee. Look around for a church similar to yours and contextualize systems they already have in place so that they mesh with your church. There is no reason to re-invent the wheel.

If your congregation takes ownership of the church and you implement systems of growth, you are on the right track to push past the 125 person growth barrier.

Adapted from the New Churches Q&A Podcast Episode 23: How to Break Through the 125 Growth Barrier. Click here to listen to more to church planting, multisite, and multiplication tips.



New Churches Team

NewChurches.com wants to help you build a strong foundation by connecting you with top experts in the field of church planting and multisite ministry, and by regularly providing you with the resources, information, and community you need to thrive as you multiply the mission of Matthew 28.


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