4 Key Roles You Need To Break The Growth Barrier


Every Senior Pastor that has grown a church from ground zero knows that there are certain attendance growth barriers along the way. One of the biggest church growth hurdles is the 500 barrier. The 500 barrier is where a lot of Pastors throw in the towel and stop trying to grow, whether due to the inability to consistently push past that number, the desire to not make as many risks, or a satisfaction in how far they have grown the church already.

To be sure, God works powerfully in churches of any size, and there can be good reasons for churches to stay at a certain size. But if you’re a Lead Pastor who desires to grow your church past the 500 or 600 mark, the first step is realizing that you no longer can be the sole driver of the growth. You’ll need a lot of help (and a lot of faith) to get you there.

It’s time to seek and prioritize that help. The reality is, the size of a church is a huge influence on how it needs to be run, and you won’t grow to the size you want to be without beginning to run your church differently.

There are several key roles you need on your church staff to help you break the 500 barrier. As any Pastor who has been there will tell you, effective and strategic church staffing is even more important at this attendance juncture.

Here are four key church staff roles you need to add to your team to grow past the 500 threshold. 

1. An Excellent Worship Pastor

If you don’t already have one, an experienced and talented full-time Worship Pastor is the next church staff hire you need to make. Most visitors decide in the first ten minutes whether or not they will be coming back to your church, and that is mainly determined by the quality of the worship experience and musicians.

As Tim Keller says, the larger a church grows, the higher the excellence bar goes up. At a smaller church, your attendees are satisfied with lower quality music because they know the people or know that they are merely volunteers, not professionals. But if you want to grow your church past the 500 barrier, a high-performing Worship Pastor who creates and executes great worship experiences is a necessity. Remember, your Worship Leader is the second most visible and influential person of the church.

2. A Rockstar NextGen Or Family Pastor

Nothing keeps a family coming to church more than the kids wanting to come back. And if the kids don’t like coming to church, the parents may grow tired of dragging them there. Hopefully by this point in your church growth you already have a great full-time Children’s Pastor, but if you don’t also have a Director of NextGen or Family Ministries by now, this is the perfect time to hire one.

When a church is smaller than 500, the Children’s Pastor usually reports directly to the Senior Pastor. But to break 500, you need someone else who can skillfully hire, train, empower, and lead the Student and Children’s Pastors, particularly one who is skilled in volunteer recruitment, development, and retention.

3. An Exceptional Student Pastor

Students can be a significant source of growth for your church.Tweet: Students can be a significant source of growth for your church. https://bit.ly/1Mv27re via @VanderbloemenSG

Similar to the need for a great Family Pastor and Children’s Pastor, students can aid in growing your church. If your teens love coming to Youth Group, they will invite all of their friends. If their friends like it, they will invite their families. A vibrant Student Ministry adds such energy to a growing church, as everyone witnesses these young adults take steps in their faith, begin to serve the church, and start reaching others with the Gospel.

Before you hit the 500 mark, your Youth Pastor might have been a local college student or a volunteer couple from the church, but if you really want to take your church to the next level, it might be time to explore hiring a high-capacity Student Pastor who has experience leading and growing a Student Ministry.

4. An Experienced Connections Or Small Groups Pastor

Your church growing to 500 attendees is exciting evidence that you’re attracting a lot of people in your community to come through your front door. But now it’s time to pay attention to who’s walking out the back door and why.

To break the 500 barrier, you need to start focusing on overall new visitor and member retention.Tweet: To break the 500 barrier, you need to start focusing on overall new visitor and member retention. https://bit.ly/1Mv27re via @VanderbloemenSG

The job of a Connections Pastor (or a Discipleship Pastor or a Small Groups Pastor) is to help get people plugged in, assimilated, and growing in their faith. Your small group ministry is a vitally important one at your church, and to retain members and visitors, it now needs to be one, full-time staff person’s job to help people get connected and take the next step. 

Did you expect to see Executive Pastor on this list?

You may very well be right. Some churches do hire an Executive Pastor around this size, but others wait until the next growth barrier – the 800-1000 mark. The Senior Pastor will know when he needs someone else to oversee the staff, operations, and finances of the church. When it’s time, the right administrative leader will lift a huge load from the rest of the staff by putting systems in place, making strategic decisions, reducing meetings, taking on administrative tasks, and freeing up the rest of the staff to focus on ministry.

Every church is different. Every church staff is unique. And we’re cheering for every church of every size as you serve on the frontlines of ministry. Should you need help discerning what role your church needs to hire next or how to find that person, feel free to reach out to us. We’d be delighted to talk about your church staff’s specific needs with you.

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