Multiplication Center

Faster Growth Comes with Younger Pastors and Founding Pastors

December 19, 2017

In our continuing list of nuggets uncovered in our Leadership Network/Portable Church Industries upcoming report, this insight sounds obvious. Recall first that the churches in Leadership Network’s sample universe tend to be growth oriented. We do not focus on more “normal” churches in that sense.

We want to know what is going on in thriving churches.

The “faster growth” nugget above is based on responses regardless as to whether they are single site or multisite.

For definition, we used under 40 years of age for “younger” and founders could be any age. And our report looks at percentage growth, not absolute number.

So if a church of 1,000 grew by 100 people last year that was a healthy increase. But if a church of 100 grew by 50 people, that is a much higher percentage, while the absolute number was less than the larger church.

Why is faster growth evident in these groupings?

Our hunches:

  • Very young pastors could have very young church plants. A growth of a few dozen people can be fantastic percentage growth. (The opposite is also true: if a young church plants loses people, it is a dramatic drop percentage wise.)
  • Those in church plant or new sites tend to have faster growth rates than long established churches. Since our survey was focused on new sites, they could be over represented.
  • In existing churches, younger pastors tend to attract a younger constituency which is now coming to full flower in family formation and “settling down.”
  • Founding pastors get to set clear vision and direction and stay with it over time. This stability in vision and direction contribute to long term trust where attenders know what to expect and have chosen to participate based on the vision and direction.
  • Successor pastors, and those that are in a long line of pastors who have led a church, must deal with past history, leadership, direction, programs that are not of their own direction and vision.

While many of these directions and programs have positive impacts into today’s context, many also do not. Founders and younger pastors get a bit of grace from the congregation when choosing to move in new directions. Older successors are more likely to become suspicion and mistrust. “They should know better” says a long time lay leader in a church when change is announced.

In other words – change management and transitions are hard!

As you know, you can’t change the age of your pastor or whether that person is a founder or not. But it does help a leader understand why that other church in town appears to be growing faster.

See the previous four blogs in this series here, here, here and here.

To get on the list to receive the report when it is released:


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