Three Most Promising Steps For Moving A Church Off A Plateau

steps up


Countless churches drift along on a plateau.  They’re not growing and a choice is looming.  Either make changes or begin to lose ground.  Many of our USA churches are in decline and more close their doors every single year.

In his book, 44 Steps Up Off The Plateau, Lyle Shaller gives some practical advice for helping the church move from stagnate momentum, attendance and energy to a renewed place of visionary ministry.  Even though this book is 20 years old, it’s still significantly speaks to any church leader who feels led to help their church break through.

Here are the three most promising practical steps for moving your church up a notch:

1) Improve the Quality

Improve the quality of the worship service, of the preaching, of the connection time to new people, and of the outreach ministry.  Improving the quality may begin with pruning, making less better. It may mean looking at one area and making small steps toward a new way of doing ministry.  Bringing a higher standard of quality doesn’t have to cost lots of money. In fact, one definition of excellence is “doing the best with what you have.”  However, there may be need to invest some money to improve quality and in that case, a new vision may attract some giving or the new emphasis may be noticed by those who want to support it.  In either case, improving the quality is an ongoing agenda.


2) Be Responsive to the Spiritual Needs of People

The church needs to be the church in the community.  There are many things you can do, but the one thing no other place in your community covers is meeting the spiritual needs of people.  Keep this on the front burner for your congregation, for your staff and for you leadership.  We want to offer help, compassion and mercy to individuals.  We want to offer worship services and other opportunities for people to experience the transforming power of Christ.  When the church is responsive to the spiritual needs of people, lives are changed.


3) Increase the Productivity of the Church Staff

Increasing the level of output of the church staff is important. Clear expectations, measurable goals, and accountability are all factors in helping each staff team member contribute their best.  If you don’t have any staff in your church, work with, develop and raise the bar for anchor leaders who want to grow and serve.  People productivity is among the highest need for pastors and staff.  A focus and commitment to responding to people, thinking the way a newcomer may think and focusing on people more than paper is a huge step toward becoming highly productive.  I heard one pastor say, “the church doesn’t need more staff, they need coaches.” Highly productive church leaders reproduce others to take on ministry roles.  They are actively managing their time, learning and growing and consistently following up and communicating with their teams.



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