Matt Molt, Pastor of New Vintage Church, wrote about his experience leading his church
through the 200 barrier and has allowed me to make it available to you.
Matt’s testimony is one of several included in the Breaking the 200 Barrier course.
Learn more about my Breaking the 200 Barrier web-based seminar. – Ed
Here’s the story from Matt:
When we broke the 200 mark for the first time—what a victory! We were sure that full-on revival had broken out in the SW corner of Washington State. At times, my wife and I would crash on the couch at the end of a weekend and wonder, “Where did the all these people come from, and why were they coming to our church?”
We did begin to evaluate the “why” people were coming, and how we could keep the momentum going. The key, I was convinced, as the lead pastor was for me to do just that: lead. Andy Stanley’s podcasts in those days helped our thinking so much, when he said that churches didn’t need better pastors, but they needed better leaders. Andy is right—we need to lead better to help our churches grow.
Leading well will help you go beyond the invisible 200 barrier. Here are three things we learned about leading well.
First, people are judging what we do as much or more than what we preach. Are we kind to our spouse? Do we keep our cool with our kids? Are we inviting people to our church? Do we seem passionate in our devotional life? What we do in life as a leader, our people will do in their life. We set the culture, the tone, and the example in our church communities.
One day at a pastors’ luncheon, early in our planting journey, another church planter friend asked me, “How do you get your people to invite people?! I can’t get mine to do it!” I was taken back and said “I’m not sure.” It caused me to reflect about his question, however. I found an answer: it was that I was inviting people to our church. The power of example will cause your church to grow in numbers, more than anything else. Lead by example to grow your church.
Second, we can all be strategic, lifelong learners. Many pastors love to read and attend conferences, taking in barrels of biblical information. But “strategic” learning is different, and comes in two ways. One, learn from those who are successful in your field, and two, learn from areas of life outside of your comfort zone. Find some pastors who are leading well in growth, and have reached the stage that you want to grow to. Ask them questions, visit their church, find out who they are podcasting, and what they read. Steal their best ideas, and implement them. There exists such a camaraderie between church planters that most will gladly share tips that helped them. This is learning from success.
The other way to learn strategically is to dive into interests that seem completely unrelated to your field. Why not take a math class? Could you study 18th century art? I began to listen to a podcast about scientific books—definitely out of my field (and comfort zone). That type of research gives you access to stories, illustrations, and information that will help you to identify with people you may not otherwise have a chance to. Break the 200 barrier by learning strategically, from experts in your arena and outside of it.
The third way to lead that will help cause numerical growth is to stay the course with the vision God has placed in your heart. If you are planning on reaching lost people, then stay a church for lost people. Some well-intentioned people may come in and admire your heart and compliment your church, but want you to change strategy or style to suit their preference. This kind of “encouragement” is deceptive because we want that person to stay. But if they stay, it may mean going off course from your original vision. Stay on target, Rogue Leader! Focus on those who will come because you created a place for them, based on a God-given vision.
At New Vintage Church in Tri-Cities, Washington, we knew that we were called to plant a church that reached people who would most likely never go to church. It has been great, and we have seen hundreds come to faith in Jesus for the first time. But some people think we are out of balance and don’t emphasize other things enough. “You know you have Christians in your church, too?” I was asked/told one time by a person in my church. “I know I do. And we might not be the right fit for you and your family, because we are going to stay vision-centered in our approach. Our vision is to reach lost people.” That was a tough call for me to make, but it clarified who we were, and kept us on track with our vision as a church. Great leaders stay the course of their vision, and this produces long term growth in your church. Lead well my friends! You will break the 200 barrier and beyond.