How the Structure of a Church Can Help (or Hinder) Growth


It’s one thing to want to see your church grow.

It’s entirely another to position your church structurally so you can accommodate growth.

If you structure bigger, you can grow bigger. If you don’t, your structural constraints will stifle and hinder your growth.

The structure of a church – or the leadership hierarchy and governing systems that allow a church to function – can have a significant impact on the church’s ability to grow. In fact, poor church structure is the biggest hurdle churches have to overcome when it comes to growth. 

And the best type of church structure for your church? One that will enable accountability, participation, and growthThe best type of structure for your church is one that will enable accountability, participation, and growth.CLICK TO TWEET

A few years ago, I connected with a pastor who has seen his church grow from 200 in attendance to over 450 in attendance in the last two years.

That’s a lot of growth in a short window of time. He’s actually scaling what 90% of churches never scale: The 200 attendance mark.

He’s also figuring out the changes he needs to make. Changes that most leaders miss: How they spend their time and how they structure their team.

That might seem surprising, but that’s exactly what church leaders should be figuring out. It’s the key to growing your church past 200 attendees on a sustainable basis.

Preaching, prayer, and trust in God are not what’s going to keep this particular leader’s church from growing. He’s always pursued those with passion. As I imagine, have many of you.

One of the chief challenges that will keep his church from growing centers on church leadership structure.

As I wrote about in my book, Lasting Impact: 7 Powerful Conversations That Will Help Your Church Grow, if you want your church to grow, you need to structure bigger to grow bigger.

So, how do you do that? This post is a little technical, but I hope it will help you and your team finally put your finger on all those things you haven’t been able to put your finger on.

Note: This article was updated and republished on March 22, 2023.If you want your church to grow, you need to structure bigger to grow bigger.CLICK TO TWEET

How to Structure a Church to Grow

All churches – regardless of denomination and affiliation – are organized around some form of central leadership hierarchy. 

No matter your terminology (pastor, minister, clergy, staff, deacon, elder, etc.), the growth barriers most churches encounter as they move past 200 attendees are remarkably similar. 

For the purposes of the article, we’ll explore the hierarchical and structural challenges growth creates for:

  • Pastors and Ministers
  • Elders and Deacons
  • Church Staff

Because pastors and ministers are at the top of the church administration structure, we’ll start by looking at one of the biggest challenges experienced by pastors of a growing church. 

Pastors and Ministers: Protect Your Time

As your church grows, so will the demands on your time.

When your church or organization is small, you can accommodate the requests on your time. As it grows, that has to change.

More people equals more requests, and that reality will completely overrun your life if you let it.

You’ll burn out responding to people’s needs, which ironically means people’s needs go unmet.Too many leaders burn out responding to people’s needs, which means people’s needs go unmet.CLICK TO TWEET

So, how do you spend your time?

That’s what you need to decide. I make a strong argument about how pastoral care stunts church growth and why you should NOT spend your time doing it.

Remember, no one will ever ask you to complete your top priorities (say, sermon preparation or strategic planning, or even prayer);  they will only ask you to complete theirs.

That’s why you need to decide beforehand how you spend your time.

These two posts contain some of my best tips on time management and that help answer my most frequently asked question – How do you get everything you do done? 

Another massive shift in time management you’ll need to make as your church grows is to minimize the number of meetings you’re involved in. This post can help tremendously with doing just that:

Sure, there may be a season where you sprint through some productive planning meetings, but if you spend your life in meetings, you’ll never get your real work done or your true mission accomplished. No one will ever ask you to complete your top priorities; they will only ask you to complete theirs. CLICK TO TWEET


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