The Church Revitalization Podcast – Episode 204
Growth is on every pastor’s mind. Compelled by the Great Commission, pastors feel an urgency to reach more people and expand the impact of their churches. But this desire can lead down an uneasy path, causing otherwise grounded leaders to compromise their values in hopes of driving growth.
The headlines are littered with painful examples of pastors who took this compromise too far. Powerful churches built on distorted gospels and personality-driven models. Predatory pastors who abused their position and lost sight of their calling. Ministries expanded through manipulation, guilt, and deceit.
Clearly, growth at any cost is too high a price to pay. But does this mean sincere pastors are forced to choose between their convictions and the growth of their church? Absolutely not. With prayer, discernment, and God’s wisdom, it is possible to healthily grow your church without compromising your values.
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The Temptation to Compromise
Most pastors feel pressure to increase their church’s size. Maybe it’s the ever-present comparisons to larger churches down the street. Or the desire to reach more people with the gospel. Perhaps it stems from wanting the increased resources and influence that come with a bigger congregation.
Whatever the source, this pressure can lead pastors to consider quick fixes and growth hacks that undermine their calling. Out of zeal, they compromise core Biblical principles. They mimic methodologies of celebrity pastors without considering contextual differences. They sacrifice discipleship in favor of gimmicks that pack seats.
This temptation is always lurking, but godly pastors recognize that shortcuts usually lead to catastrophe, and once healthy leaders can become toxic. Lasting growth requires staying grounded in your theology, reaching your community through indigenous outreach, and following the Spirit’s guidance. There are no shortcuts in ministry—only growth that comes from doing the right things, the right way, for a long time. And the Lord will bring the growth when He wills.
Stay Grounded in Your Theology
When feeling tempted to compromise, ground yourself again in God’s unchanging Word. Scripture, not popular opinion, must form the foundation for your preaching and leadership.
Many think watering down hard truths will attract more people. But research shows the next generation actually wants more Bible-centered sermons, not less. People long for an anchor amidst the chaos of culture. They’re drawn to difference, not echo chambers that scratch ears but leave souls empty.
Remember, the Word is alive and active (Hebrews 4:12). When wielded skillfully, Scripture connects with all who have ears to hear. You don’t need to compromise Biblical fidelity to make ancient truths relevant. Preach the unvarnished gospel and trust the Holy Spirit to draw people to His truth.
It has become in vogue to say that we need to preach Jesus, not the Bible. This is said as if there is even a centimeter’s gap between the person of Jesus and the Scripture! He is the Word-Made-Flesh. To see the Scripture is to see Jesus, and vice versa. If ever you feel like you need to swap out faithfully preaching the Word for popcorn preaching, and shallow topical series–stop yourself. At best, you’ll only attract already-reached Boomer Christians from “boring” churches.
Engage in Authentic Community Outreach
While holding fast to Biblical theology, make sure your outreach efforts authentically engage your community. Contextualization is not compromise—it’s sharing eternal truth in ways that connect with people’s everyday lives.
Spend time understanding the real needs in your area. Don’t make assumptions. Then develop targeted ministries that meet people where they are, communicating God’s heart in ways they understand.
Maybe it’s a jobs program for the unemployed or a support group for single moms. Perhaps it’s a sports league that gives troubled teens a positive place to belong. Get creative. Address the actual needs of actual people. Show them God’s compassion through practical care. Don’t assume that generic needs like a food pantry or homeless ministry is the most effective means of outreach. In order to grow, your church will need to meet the actual needs of the actual community you want to reach.
This sort of contextualized outreach opens doors to share the gospel. As relationships grow, you can invite people into discipleship and full commitment to Christ. Authentic community ministry grounded in love avoids compromise while fueling growth.
Modernize Your Approach Without Selling Out
While holding fast to doctrine and scripture, make sure your church’s methods don’t unnecessarily hinder people from connecting.
This doesn’t mean entertaining goats while starving sheep. But consider if your communication style and format would confuse first-time visitors. Are you leveraging technology and innovation while avoiding gimmicks? Is your website easy to navigate? Are you creating short-form social media content?
If you haven’t updated your website and social media strategy since the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s time to re-evaluate it. That may feel like yesterday, but as of this writing, it’s been more than three years! A lot has changed in that timeframe, and if you want to reach your community, you need to be answering people’s questions in the places where they are asking them: online.
Look for simple ways to remove barriers that have nothing to do with the essence of your message. People today are flooded with options for their time. Make sure you meet them where they are, speaking their language without compromising the timeless truth.
Follow the Spirit’s Leading
Most importantly, bathe every growth strategy in prayer. Seek the Spirit’s guidance each step of the way.
Ultimately, only God can grow a church. You faithfully cultivate the soil through prayer, preaching, and care. But only the Lord makes the seed sprout and bear fruit (1 Corinthians 3:7).
So stay sensitive to the Spirit’s leading. If He is directing you to launch that new community program or upgrade your web strategy, obey with expectancy. If He prompts you to wait or says “not now,” heed His voice.
Success is about walking in wisdom and obedience to God’s timing. He will grow your church His way, in His time, if you commit to His methods without compromise.
Protecting Your Church’s Values
With intentionality and God’s help, you can grow your church without compromising core Biblical values. It isn’t easy, but the rewards are eternal.
Stay grounded in scripture, engage your community, and follow the Spirit’s guidance. When you pursue growth God’s way, you’ll avoid compromising your calling while seeing lives transformed by the power of the gospel.
Practical Steps Forward
If you want to grow your church without compromise, here are some practical next steps:
1. Pray and examine your heart. Ask God to reveal any unhealthy motivations or temptations to compromise. Repent and realign with His vision for your church.
2. Study your community demographics and needs. Look for gaps where you can serve in substantive ways. Launch targeted ministries.
3. Upgrade your church systems and technology. Remove distractions and barriers to newcomers connecting.
4. Preach the unchanging gospel and let it confront and transform hearts. Resist watering down hard but life-giving truths.
5. Disciple well. Go deep with people. Transformations that fuel genuine growth happen slowly over time. Avoid quick converts with low commitment.
6. Stay accountable to other godly pastors. Maintain friendships who will check your motivations and help you stick to Biblical principles.
7. Celebrate kingdom growth, not just your own church’s size. Rejoice when other churches thrive. Aim for reaching people, not stacking numbers.
8. Keep sharing your message and serving your community. Trust God to grow the seeds you faithfully plant. Stay the course without compromise.
Growing a vibrant, life-giving church takes immense wisdom, prayer, and discernment. There are no shortcuts. Compromise only leads to carnal congregations built on sand. But churches founded on God’s eternal truths, passed down through spiritual generations of disciples, will stand firm from generation to generation. They grow deep and wide.
By sticking to Biblical principles, engaging your community, and following the Spirit’s guidance, you can grow an impactful, fruitful church without compromise. Stay grounded in truth, share God’s love, and keep planting seeds through prayer and obedience. The Lord Himself will bring the increase in His perfect timing.
Scott Ball is the Vice President and a Lead Guide with The Malphurs Group. He lives in East Tennessee with his wife and two children. (Email Scott).