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CNLP 225: Joshua Gagnon and Daniel King on Breaking Growth Barriers from 30 People to 5000 People Without Blowing Your Church Apart

Josh Gagnon started Next Level Church in New England with 30 people on day one…in an auditorium that sat 800. Not a great recipe for success. On the second Sunday, Daniel King volunteered to join Josh’s team, and they’ve seen Next Level grow to 5000 people in 9 locations and four states.

In this special episode, they share all their challenges, principles and secrets on breaking all the attendance barriers between 30 and 5000. Guess what? The first 200 was the hardest, and they share why.

Welcome to Episode 225 of the podcastListen and access the show notes below or search for the Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts and listen for free.

Grow Beyond 200

Would you like to see your church grow to more than 200 in weekly attendance?

You’re certainly not alone. The vast majority of churches in North America never break this growth barrier. I’ve worked with hundreds of pastors during the last 20 years to better understand why churches hit plateaus—and how to break past them.

Just “working harder” won’t cut it either. In Breaking 200, I’ll share with you a few key changes your church can make to become the church God has called you to be.

In this eight-lesson video course, you’ll learn:

  • How to structure your church to grow
  • How to scale your pastoral care so you can help more people without burning out
  • How to find the right leaders to take your church to the next level
  • & much more!

Each session will include an interactive workbook with exercises to help you and your team apply what you’re learning to your ministry context right away.

You can learn more and gain instant access today.

Guest Links

Joshua Gagnon | @joshgagnon | The Joshua Gagnon Leadership Podcast

Daniel King | @danielkinglive | Next Level Church

CNLP 017: Your Excuses Are Gone—How To Grow A Big Church Anywhere (Even In New England). An Interview With Josh Gagnon

CNLP 061: The Insecure Leader – An Interview With Josh Gagnon

CNLP 200: Joshua Gagnon on Rapid Growth, Launching Big and Staying Sane in Leadership

CNLP 201: Joshua Gagnon Interviews Carey Nieuwhof on Crazy Risks, What Carey Would Change about the High Impact Leader and Whether it’s Working for Him Now, and What He’s Doing Next

Episode Links

Breaking 200 enrollment is open! Don’t miss out on the absolutely best pricing of the season and exclusive bonus material at

CNLP 223: How to Break the Growth Barriers That Will Move Your Church Past 200, 600 and 1000 Attenders with Carl George and Warren Bird

3 Insights from Josh & Daniel

1.  Breaking barriers requires a shift in mentality and a commitment to the “why”

85% of churches never break the 200 barrier. Maybe it’s because many aren’t willing to face the growing pains that are necessary to culturally and systematically change the organization in order to overcome that number. A shift in mentality has to take place for this to work – a shift in thinking, culture and influence in order to implement the changes necessary to break the barriers.

Once you and your team have that mentality shift down, know your why and continually keep your why front and center for your church. People start rallying around the why when they understand the reason behind it.

2. Some people are pillars and some are not

Staging supports the build of a house so that the higher level can be reached, but once the roof is on, the staging comes down. It doesn’t stay there permanently. It’s the same idea with people. Some people are pillars and other people just aren’t.

The truth is, some people aren’t going to be a part of your church forever. Does it feel like the ultimate rejection in the moment? Yes! But don’t make it such a personal loss. Be okay with the fact that sometimes some people are going to leave in those harder seasons.

3. Prepare a big launch week with the weeks to come in mind

Launching big doesn’t mean planning and preparing for a grand opening weekend and then calling it done. A big launch won’t go well if all the resources and energy are only focused on the kick off. That strategy will see little, if any, return.

Market the first weekend with an intentional plan for the weeks that follow. Don’t blow the entire budget on week one. Sure, the kick off should be a huge deal, but in order to make a lasting impression, continue making your presence known throughout the community beyond launch day.

Sometimes there is a tendency to focus on simply filling the room. Week one sets the tone for what the next week is going to look like. It’s important to launch with people who can actually come back the next week to keep the momentum going strong.

Quotes from Episode 225

If 85% of churches can't break 200, it could be because we just don't know how or aren't willing to face the pain that it takes to culturally, systematically change the organization, in order to overcome that number. @joshgagnon Click To Tweet

I'm never going to be a pastor that expects God to do something that I didn't dig a ditch for Him to fill with rain. I think, when God gives you a dream, He hands it to you with a shovel. @joshgagnon Click To Tweet

It is impossible to get to the next stage of ministry that God's called us in, if I continue to remain the lid that holds us back. @joshgagnon Click To Tweet

I decided early on that I would rather fail than never go after what I believed I was created to do. I may fail in trying, but not trying and giving it all I had to get there wasn't an option. @joshgagnon Click To Tweet

If you give correct on-ramps, leaders will be found. @joshgagnon Click To Tweet

We let people serve, who don't believe, because we believe eventually, while serving, they will believe. @joshgagnon Click To Tweet

It's important that you launch big with people who can actually come back. @danielkinglive Click To Tweet

Read or Download the Transcript for Episode 225

Looking for a key quote? More of a reader?

Read or download a free PDF transcript of this episode here.

Solve the Problems Most Leaders Miss: Didn’t See It Coming Will Help

If you want practical help overcoming some of the biggest challenges leaders face, my new book Didn’t See It Coming: Overcoming the 7 Greatest Challenges That Nobody Expects and Everyone Experiences tackles the seven core issues that take people out: cynicism, compromise, disconnectedness, irrelevance, pride, burnout, and the emptiness of success and provides strategies on how to combat each.

I wrote the book because no 18 year old sets out to be cynical, jaded and disconnected by age 35. Yet it happens all the time.

The good news is, it doesn’t have to be that way.

Here’s what top leaders are saying about Didn’t See It Coming:

“Seriously, this may be the most important book you read this year.” Jud Wilhite, Lead Pastor, Central Church

“Powerful, personal, and highly readable. ” Brian Houston, Global Senior Pastor, Hillsong

“Whatever challenge you’re facing, whatever obstacle you’re hoping to overcome, whatever future you dream or imagine, there is something powerful for you here.” Andy Stanley, Founder, North Point Ministries

“Uncommonly perceptive and generous…You have to read this book.” Ann Voskamp, NYT bestselling author

“Masterful.” Reggie Joiner, CEO Orange

“Deep biblical insight, straightforward truth, and practical wisdom to help you grow.” Craig Groeschel, Pastor and NYT bestselling author

“This book is sure to help you.” Daniel H. Pink, NYT bestselling author

Over the years, one of the things I’ve enjoyed most about being a public speaker is having opportunities to hang out with Carey…It’s not a matter of if you’ll run into these challenges; it’s a matter of when. Be prepared by spending a little time with a leader who has already been there.” Jon Acuff, NYT best-selling author

“Nieuwhof’s book provides expert guidance…with an accuracy that pierces the heart.” Nancy Duarte, CEO Duarte Inc.

“A refreshingly transparent guide for all leaders in a wide variety of industries.” Bryan Miles, Co-Founder and CEO, BELAY

You can learn more and get your copy of Didn’t See It Coming here.

Subscribed Yet? 

Subscribe for free and never miss out on wisdom from world-class leaders like Brian Houston, Andy Stanley, Craig Groeschel, Nancy Duarte, Henry Cloud, Patrick Lencioni, Francis Chan, Ann Voskamp, Erwin McManus and many others.

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Spread the Word. Leave a Rating and Review

Hopefully, this episode has helped you lead like never before. That’s my goal. If you appreciated it, could you share the love?

The best way to do that is to rate the podcast on Apple Podcasts and leave us a brief review! You can do the same on Stitcher and on TuneIn as well.

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Thank you for being so awesome.

Next Episode: Adam Hamilton 

Adam Hamilton planted a mainline church 28 years ago. The goal was to reach thinking people who are skeptical of Christianity. His church quickly became one of the largest and fastest growing mainline churches in the world. In a wide-ranging interview, Adam talks about the strategy behind Church of the Resurrection, how tradition and modern expressions of worship can live together in the same church, and how he’s stayed fresh over almost 3 decades of leadership.

Subscribe for free now and you won’t miss Episode 226.

CNLP 225: Joshua Gagnon and Daniel King on Breaking Growth Barriers from 30 People to 5000 People Without Blowing Your Church Apart

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