By Carey Nieuwhof

So you want your church to accomplish its mission and reach people.

But so often in church leadership, it’s easy to believe growth can’t really happen unless you spend money on some new initiatives.

And that leaves a lot of church leaders stuck. Why? Because the vast majority of churches are underfunded, not over-funded.

Faced with a lack of resources, too many church leaders throw in the towel and believe growth isn’t possible.

But that’s a fallacy.

Vision always precedes resources. If you’re waiting for people and money to show up so you can get on with your mission, you’ll wait forever.

So how do you start growing now, even with zero dollars?

Here are 10 ways.


It’s amazing to me how little passion many church leaders exude.

We have the most amazing mission on planet earth. And we have a generation of young adults in front of us who want to give their lives to a cause that’s bigger than themselves.

Yet it’s easy to believe that the only way to reach the next generation is by spending money on lights, gear and sound. But that’s just not true.

You don’t need a polished church to reach the next generation nearly as much as you need a passionate church. Because when it comes to reaching the next generation, passion beats polish.


Christians can be socially weird.

Too often, we use unnecessarily weird language—like this:

“This is good coffee, brother.”

“Amen. Hallelujah.”

Why not just talk at church the way you talk at the office or at a football game or on a Saturday by the pool? (Actually, if you talk like that normally, you probably don’t get invited out too often.)

Here’s what’s actually at stake: if someone has to learn code to join your church, you likely won’t have many people joining your church.

Our challenge is to reduce the human barriers that keep people from Jesus, not to erect new ones.

And, no, being weird does not mean you’re being faithful. It just means you’re being weird.


Vision is a leader’s best friend, and it’s free.

After two decades of leading and communicating in the local church, I am convinced it is impossible to overstate or overestimate the vision of the church.  As Bill Hybels has said, the local church really is the hope of the world.

If you don’t dream big dreams for your church, who will?

If you don’t communicate big vision for your church, who will?


The reason change is so difficult in many churches is because members fall in love with methods, not with the mission.

A method is a way of doing things: programs the church runs, the style of music, the architecture of a building or facility, a staffing or governance model.

Those are all simply methods that can and should change with every generation or even more frequently.

The mission is what you’re doing (like reaching people with the love and hope of Jesus), and it never changes.

The more you focus on the mission, the easier it is to change the methods.


I know ‘smile more’ sounds trivial. But just look around you. Hardly anyone smiles.

If the Gospel is good news, you would never know it from looking at many Christians.

I have to remind myself when I communicate to smile more. It’s not my natural facial expression.

A smile can make a huge difference in almost any relationship.

So smile more and remind your people to smile more. Honestly, this makes a huge difference in how people perceive you.


I have no statistics on this, but my guess is in-fighting has killed more churches than moral failure has.

Christians, it’s hard to convince the world that God loves it when we constantly fight with each other.

If your church is fighting, there should be zero mystery as to why it isn’t growing.


I’ve never heard of a church whose members claimed they were unfriendly.

In fact, most church members are stumped as to why people don’t like their church because they’re so ‘friendly.’

But being a ‘friendly’ church can often mean you’re friendly to each other, not to guests.

Change that.

Make sure guests feel genuinely appreciated, welcomed and that their questions are answered. This does NOT mean making them stand up in the service or other socially awkward things like that (see point 2 above).

It does mean treating guests the way they want to be treated.


Many leaders fall into the trap of thinking that great leadership comes only when you can hire a great staff.


You have a great team—they’re called your volunteers.

If you create a healthy volunteer culture, you’ll be amazed at how well your volunteers serve.

No matter how big you get as a church, you will never have enough money to hire all the staff you want. And you will always need a growing group of passionate, committed, aligned volunteers.

The bottom line? Passionate volunteers create a passionate church.


So there’s this thing out there called personally inviting a friend. Ever heard of it?

Okay, maybe that was a little sarcastic. But I am amazed by how often most of us neglect personally inviting our unchurched friends to church.

Many actually say yes when asked.

If everyone invited one person next weekend, think of what might happen.

Church leaders, encourage people to invite friends and start by inviting someone yourself.


Last time I checked, friendship was free too. That’s a good thing.

The sad reality is the reason #9 is impossible for some people is because many Christians don’t actually know any non-Christians.

Change that.

Be a friend.

Hang out with that guy at work. Throw a party for the neighbours in your backyard. Talk to the other parents at your child’s school.

Get out of the Christian bubble and into the world Jesus died for.

If you’re at church 7 nights a week, you can’t be friends with non-Christians. So cut a few nights and go live the mission.

That’s why our church has almost no programming on weeknights other than small groups. We want our people to love the community.

The only way you can love a community is to actually be in the community.

You can’t love people you don’t know.

Mission Article:10 ways to recognise a Sacred Cow in your Church

By Chuck Lawless on Oct 09, 2018 01:00 am

We often use the term “sacred cow” to describe something in a church that no one will criticize and is not likely to change. With this post, I want to accomplish two things: (1) further define “sacred cow” so we can recognize them, and (2) lead you to ask if your church has any sacred cows – including ministries you may lead.  In a future post, I’ll give attention to how to address these issues.

Here are some ways to recognize sacred cows.

  1. They’re usually associated with a particular person or persons in the church. If you talk about the sacred cow, everybody knows who you’re talking about even if you don’t name them. In fact, many people seem to be afraid to name them . . . .
  2. They’re often in decline. The program isn’t growing. It’s making little difference in the outreach of the church, but the church keeps doing it anyway.
  3. Nobody is willing to be the first to say, “We need to stop doing that.” A lot of people think that way, but nobody sticks his or her neck out to push for change.
  4. Their greatest influence is usually past tense. It may have been a great idea or program years ago, but the world has changed since then. It no longer carries the weight it used to carry.
  5. They’re often costly, but with few dividends. That’s not always the case, but some sacred cow programs still cost a lot of money to produce – even while their influence is waning.
  6. If you change them, some people will threaten to leave the church. The people may or may not leave, but sacred cows almost always have great emotion attached to them. Change them, and somebody will holler.
  7. They’re not essential to the gospel, though they’re treated that way. The gospel will still be central in the church if the sacred cow is gone, but some people genuinely believe the church will lose their focus if that happens.
  8. You’re not the first person who thought about trying to remove it. Other church leaders have considered it in the past, but something kept them from taking that step. Most of the time, that “something” is a power player in the church.
  9. People talk about them behind the scenes. Many in the church know they’re not the best expenditure of time and energy. It’s just easier, though, to talk about them than it is to change them.
  10. Few people have really prayed about them. My point here is that we too often want a sacred cow to disappear, but we haven’t much sought God’s help in the matter. Perhaps He’ll have a way of removing it – or even redeeming it – in a way we had not considered. 


Welcome to the new Locking Deanery Website!

We aim to keep this site up to date with deanery news and helpful articles. We also hope to make it really simple to use and navigate. If something doesn’t work or is difficult to use please let us know and we will do our best to correct it.

The site is mainly designed as a bulletin board for church members to find out what is happening in the Deanery.