The Hidden Ceiling

The Church / October 16, 2007

You might think that a church’s “growth ceiling” is proportional to her ability to bring in more guests. Not always true. In fact, most weeks, churches have a steady trickle of guests. It’s amazing how many people bravely come to investigate our God and the church.  If you could connect half of the guests, you’d be doing very well.

The ceiling is much more subtle.  It’s a mindset.

Let me explain.

Asking for Help

Let’s say you serve at a church plant with the team of people who unload the truck every week. It’s hard work. And once a month you show up at 7:30 AM and bust your butt. You sweat. You grunt. You get dirty. There’s no hiding that this job takes muscle!

Then, one morning, your ministry team leader brilliantly suggests that “we get more people to help.” Sure, the suggestion sounds fantastic, but honestly, who would want to get up and endure this early Sunday morning routine? It’s brutal!

So, you think about recruiting help but you don’t want people to say “yes” and secretly hate you for asking. Maybe you’ve even forced yourself to make that desperate and pleading phone call, and you’ve hated it every minute of it.

Finally, you arrive at this conclusion: “it’s easier for me to just show up and do the work of three people than it is to recruit three people to help.  I’ll just do it myself.

And that is the hidden ceiling: it’s the mindset of exclusion verse inclusion; the paradigm of asking verse inviting.

Inviting to Belong

Perhaps there is the erroneous belief that people don’t want to participate; that the unengaged prefer watching us work and that most people prefer the bench of boredom to the excitement of the field.

Do you remember recess in elementary school? We all longed to be invited. Whether it was a game of basketball or co-ed freeze tag, we wanted someone to just invite us to play. We longed for anyone to notice that we were doing nothing and care enough to invite us to do something. And, honestly, we didn’t care what the invitation was, we just wanted to belong.

Have we really changed that much?

Whenever we refuse to invite and include people in ministry, we hog it. Every time we do the work of three people alone, we exclude two people from belonging. Whenever our goal is to accomplish a task rather than connect a person, our growth hits the ceiling.

What if every small group and ministry team in the church invited someone to belong and participate? What if, we refused to exclude, but instead, invited people to own ministry, connect in a relationship and join the game.

This is the ceiling.  Mark my words, the church will only move forward when she begins to invite and include people to join and participate in ministry and small groups. Her growth will continue to be proportional to her willingness to regularly invite others to belong.

Photo by Fabrizio Verrecchia on Unsplash

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Dave Milam
Dave Milam is a pastor, communicator and the founder of One Life Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. As a a gifted communicator Dave's right brained style of delivery helps his listener connect and remember God's truth in a uniquely visual way. Connect with Dave on Google+

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1 Comment

on October 28, 2007

perfect line right here….”Whenever our goal is to accomplish a task rather than connect a person, our growth hits the ceiling.”

you summed it up nicely – thanks!

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