CNLP 140: Tony Morgan on Discovering What Stage Your Church Is At In Its Lifecycle

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

Guest Links

The Unstuck Church: Equipping Churches to Experience Sustained Health by Tony Morgan

Tony Morgan on Episode 006 and Episode 108

Tony Morgan’s Leadership Unstuck Podcast

The Unstuck Group

Tony on Twitter

Free Unstuck Church Assessment Resource

Links Mentioned

The High Impact Leader Course is back!

Les McKeown on Episode 112

How I Built This Podcast

Tony’s Seven Phases of the Church’s Lifecycle

Tony Morgan Lifecycle


1. Launch

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.

5. Maintenance 

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.

6. Preservation

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.

CNLP 140: Tony Morgan on Discovering What Stage Your Church Is At In Its Lifecycle


  1. Jeff Murphy on September 19, 2018 at 9:44 pm

    Is it possible to rejuvenate a traditional Protestant Church in a traditional historic building? Do you have any examples?

  2. […] (I was interviewed on it once, too. You can listen here.) […]

  3. […] I share more about those early signs of decline in the conversation Carey and I had about the life cycle of a church in Episode 140 of his podcast. […]

  4. […] I discussed with Carey on Episode 140 of his podcast, without interruption every church has the potential to go through a very similar life cycle. It […]

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