Matthew R. Perry

What They Did NOT Find in Breakout Churches

In Church Life, For Preachers/Pastors, For Seminary Students, Leadership on March 7, 2006 at 11:47 am

I’m reading a book that will both change and validate how I feel about church growth issues. The Rick Warrens and the Bill Hybels and the Ed Youngs often leave this pastor discouraged due to their ‘success’ and ‘numerical growth’ in their respective churches. But God has brought along a breakthrough with Thom S. Rainer’s “Breakout Churches: Discover How to Make the Leap.”

After doing surveys on thousands of churches with a rather stringent criteria, they found 13 breakout churches. The criteria?

  • 26 conversions annually since the breakout year.
  • Church has averaged a conversion ratio of 20:1 (it takes 20 members to win one person to Christ in one year).
  • The church had declined or plateaued for several years prior to its breakout year.
  • The church broke out of its ‘slump’ and maintained it for several years.
  • The slump, reversal, and breakout all took place under the same pastor (showing that a change of leadership isn’t necessary to have a breakout).
  • The church, since the breakout, has had a clear and positive impact on the community. (p. 20)

Look at what they did not find!

  • The pastor involved in the transition was not leading by the sheer force of his charismatic personality, but a modesty pervaded their leadership style.
  • Their churches were surprisingly slow in adopting new methodologies and latching on to the latest and hottest trends in the national church scene.
  • A deliberately created and clearly articulated vision statement had little or nothing to do with the breakout to greatness.
  • The location of the church, by region of the country or demographic patterns in the community, was not a factor in the breakout process.
  • The name of the church and any decision to remove or keep the denominational identity was not a factor in breaking out.
  • Developing a strategic plan was not imperative to growth.
  • The breakout churches were conservative theologically, and it shows how important to be doctrinally clear, but solely being doctrinally correct does not move churches to greatness. (pp. 25-26).

How about that? How about THAT?!?! I am strongly considering having our On-Mission Team read through this or at least having it distilled for them when we meet again for discussion. In the coming days, I’ll share more of this. But if you can spare about $20-25 and are a church leader, this is a great book to have on your shelf!



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