“God will grow the church when he chooses to grow it.”
Ed: You’ve just been announced as the pastor of the fastest growing church in the country. Tell me about last year’s growth.
Mike: The church started in 2005. I became pastor in 2010, and at the time, we had 85 people my first Sunday. It has grown every year since then. We opened a new building, started two new locations, and have gone from 85 to 4,200 in eight years.
Ed: How does the church not just implode?
Mike: We always try to build ahead of our growth. We are constantly building our volunteer teams—we call them our Dream Team—and empowering them to get ready for growth. We look ahead, planning for growth, leading our staff through next phases, and putting voices of larger churches ahead of us to be ahead of the growth. We never want to chase growth. That’s when it things fall apart.
Ed: Is there strategy? Have you done anything that helped this growth to come, or did it just come surprisingly?
Mike: I teach a lot that culture and systems is how you design the leadership, culture, and structure of your church. This way, when God brings growth, you’re ready for it. We’ve got a pretty streamlined structure and systems in place. We do four things: we have Sundays, we have small groups, we assimilate people through a program we call our Growth Track, and then we have people serving on our Dream Team volunteer team.
The goal in church leadership is to build a culture and to lead systems that are ready to receive growth. You can’t produce it; you have to receive it.
Ed: What other human factors might have gone into such quick growth? Was it an influx of people in the community or a church split, for instance?
Mike: Clarksville is a fast-growing town. They say eight people a day are moving into …
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