CNLP 134: Carl George and Warren Bird on How to Break the 200, 600 and 1000 Attendance Barriers

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What does it take for churches to break through the 200, 400 and 600 attendance growth barriers?

Carl George and Warren Bird literally wrote the book on it, and share some of the surprising obstacles church leaders face and outline how to overcome them to reach more people.

Welcome to Episode 134 of the podcast.

How to Break Growth Barriers: Revise Your Role, Release Your People, and Capture Overlooked Opportunities for Your Church by Carl George and Warren Bird

Dr. Warren Bird on Twitter

Warren’s Website

Carl George’s Website

ReThink Leadership Atlanta, Georgia; April 26 – 28, 2017

The Canadian Church Leaders Conference Barrie, ON; June 8th – 10th

TrainedUp Leadership

Books by Lyle E. Shaller 

One Size Doesn’t Fit All: Bringing Out the Best in Any Size Church by Gary McIntosh

Books by John C. Maxwell

3 Insights from This Episode

1. Be a rancher, not a shepherd 

One of the biggest barriers for churches to break the 200 attendance mark is Pastoral care. When you first started the church, you were everything to every one… but that doesn’t scale.

Pastors tend to always think of themselves as shepherds guiding the sheep. But Carl and Warren challenge you to think of it this way: be a rancher, not a shepherd. Shepherds guide the sheep, but ranchers guide the shepherds who guide the sheep. Pastors need to have vision for the sheep and to train, empower and inspire the shepherds to do their jobs well.

2. Embrace your people

When you’re experiencing seasons of growth, you’ll have members who resist the change. As George and Warren pointed out… most people perceive more growth to mean less care. When you come across these matriarchs and patriarchs of the church, don’t resent them. Empathize with them, be their ally, lead them differently and with sensitivity.

For the people in your church who are excited about growth and change, create opportunities for them to feel like they are part of the heartbeat of the church. Managing the coffee bar might seem minor to you, but to the first-time volunteer… it’s their sense of purpose in the church.

When you give people opportunities for service in a team setting, you also see leaders arise.

3. Look where you normally don’t

For example, take the nursery. When was the last time you spent time in the nursery and preschool areas? It’s probably been a long time, if ever. But think of it this way: Parents whose kids have great experiences in the nursery will be more likely to raise their kids in your church and be members for the next 20 years.

When Pastors think facility improvements they think first of the sanctuary. But what about the lobby? How easy (or not) is it to navigate? What about parking? All of these things matter.

If you find this topic interesting, listen to the episode where I spoke with a secret church shopper. 

Quotes from This Episode

CNLP 134: Carl George and Warren Bird on How to Break the 200, 600 and 1000 Attendance Barriers Click To Tweet Pay attention to the people you're talking to: Who do they see you to be? - Carl George Click To Tweet CNLP 134: Carl George and Warren Bird on How to Break the 200, 600 and 1000 Attendance Barriers Click To Tweet Build allies in different groups and lead them in different ways. - Carl George Click To Tweet

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Next Episode: Adam Webber

You’ve heard all the excuses. Churches in this region don’t grow. Mainline denominations are dying. Adam Weber defied all the odds. He pastors one of the fastest growing churches in America and in one of the most unlikely places: South Dakota. And he did all this as a young United Methodist pastor.

Subscribe for free now and you won’t miss Episode 135.

What’s Stopping Your Church From Growing? 

Over the years, I’ve worked with thousands of church leaders to help them understand the dynamics of church growth.

And here’s what I've learned.

It’s almost never a lack of passion or effort that leads to stagnation, it’s that growing churches are effective at removing the barriers that stand between them and reaching more people.

And that’s exactly why I created The Art of Church Growth course.

By taking a thorough evaluation of your leadership team, volunteer core, missional alignment, and culture, you'll create an action plan to:

  1. Discover and eliminate the barriers that keep your church from growing
  2. Guide your church through transformational conversations that lead to growth and discipleship

While only God can grant growth, you can position your church for it. The best time to do that is now.

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Carey Nieuwhof
Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof is a best-selling leadership author, speaker, podcaster, former attorney, and church planter. He hosts one of today’s most influential leadership podcasts, and his online content is accessed by leaders over 1.5 million times a month. He speaks to leaders around the world about leadership, change, and personal growth.

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