Tony Morgan has helped over 200 churches in the last 8 years, and has observed that most churches go through predictable patterns in its lifecycle.
Combining the insights of Les McKeown (Episode 112) and others, Tony has identified 7 specific stages in the life-cycle of a church and shows you where you need to be, and how to get there.
So…where’s your church..strategic growth, maintenance…life support?
Welcome to Episode 140 of the podcast.
Tony Morgan’s Leadership Unstuck Podcast
Tony on Twitter
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Les McKeown on Episode 112
How I Built This Podcast
Tony’s Seven Phases of the Church’s Lifecycle
This is the initial phase for a brand-new organization. There’s a fresh purpose and a leader with a big dream. It’s a hopeful stage that people are drawn to and the mission is about reaching new people. This is the phase where church plants live or existing churches with new leadership or new strategy.
2. Momentum Growth
This is an exciting phase. People are unified and willing to try new things to reach new people. There’s an energy and anticipation each Sunday. Sometimes it feels like a growth you can’t even explain. In this stage you are making space for new people.
3. Strategic Growth
When the momentum growth slows, you’ll move into strategic growth. This is the stage where you need to begin establishing healthy strategies and systems to maintain growth. This is also a phase where leaders have to make a shift and move from using their gut instincts to building systems, strategies and teams. If the leader isn’t prepared or willing to make the shift to this phase, churches can get stuck in between momentum growth and strategic growth.
4. Sustained Health
This is the pinnacle of the church lifecycle. If we do the hard work in the strategic growth stage, it sets us up to reproduce the success throughout all areas of the church and enter into the sustained health phase.
Churches that find themselves in sustained health reproduce in multiple groups and campuses and are taking wise, calculated risks and try new things. The church is healthy and growing, but the goal isn’t size. This is the phase where your church can start and grow movements.
This phase is the first step on the downside of the lifecycle. This is where it becomes less about the why of the mission and more about the how. It’s where we lose sight of the people outside of the church and focus on just keeping the people in the church happy.
Strategic growth and maintenance can feel similar because there’s an emphasis on systems and process… however, in the strategic growth phase the mission and vision is still a higher priority than systems and process. When you get to this phase the visionaries and entrepreneurs leave.
The focus of this stage is survival. It’s about doing as much as you can to keep people from leaving. Because your focus is entirely internal, there’s no focus on reaching new people outside of the church walls.
7. Life Support
In this final stage of the lifecycle, the church is dying. You might be trying to reach new people but you’re holding onto old methods. This is also a stage where the church can no longer financially sustain itself.
However, this doesn’t mean the church has to die… if churches can be willing to do something they’ve never done to breathe new life back into it, they can move back into the launch phase.
Quotes from This Episode
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Next Episode: Jonathan and Verna del Turco
It’s one thing to be married for decades. It’s another to be a couple of who works together in ministry. How do you do it over the long haul without sacrificing your family, your church or killing each other. In a remarkably candid interview, Jonathan and Verna Del Turco share their secrets and talk about how they built a thriving church and vibrant marriage after some false starts.
Subscribe for free now and you won’t miss Episode 141.