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3 Ways to Grow Your Church By Subtraction

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GROWSUBTRACTI heard a phrase on a business radio program that I wasn’t familiar with…

“Addition by subtraction”

It was explained that quite often, an organization or department can add to its effectiveness by actually taking someone off the team (not replacing them). I understand the genius of less is more, but addition by subtraction?… awesome idea!

Here are 3 things you may need to subtract (take away) from your church if it’s not moving…

#1- Subtract a Ministry

Too many ministries and not any operating at full capacity is dangerous. We need to systematically measure the success of all we do, and subtract those that are sub par.

Not that they aren’t good. We just need to subtract them until we have the energy and resources to do them passionately well.

Which ministry are you going to pray about shelving?

#2- Subtract a Meeting

Can I get an Amen?? O yeah, Glory! Unproductive and unnecessary meetings are draining and they kill passion. Only gather together when needed, not necessarily scheduled.

A meeting mentality feeds the need to talk and not do.

What regularly scheduled meeting will you reduce or eliminate?

#3- Subtract a Member

Yeah, sometimes we just have take someone off the team. That means you have to be willing to make the difficult call. If that one staff, volunteer, leader or whatever isn’t contributing, they are draining! If you don’t subtract them, your team will begin to dwindle.

What member of your team (if any) should you seriously consider subtracting?

Categories: Church Leadership, Church Multiplication, Church Staff, Church Stuff, Craveable Church, Leadership, Vision Casting


  • Rick

    Thank you for your article, and opinion.

    The mega ‘aerobic music-workout, perfection~demanded~multi media~performance place where people gathered to ‘be with a LOT of people’, did all this AND more.

    Even though the gigantic church property was privately owned, and NOT subject to city/county/state laws, they put up signs ‘to weed people out’,(more likely that they needed the valuable parking space!) The signs were throughout the parking area, ‘Handicap ONLY during services’!?! SO ALL the elderly/disabled people who needed closer parking, and gave GENEROUSLY of their wealth, and resources where dwindled down to MAKE more ROOM for the younger demographic that they were targeting. AND IF a volunteer who needed to park in the handicap designated areas DURING the week, they were slapped in the face with ‘you MUST be healed, THIS IS FOR CHURCH STAFF MEMBERS DURING THE WEEK!’ They had a local huge corporation that they swapped/share facilities with during the week…AND they ultimately ushered the grey headed older people to this ‘off campus site’, where THEY could meet, and NOT be at the building they had sacrificed for! AND they were one of the FIRST in the area to cut Wednesday night ‘services’ out Where the core Christians also came to gather/worship. (the weekend mega masses where too busy for extra Jesus time during the week!) Many of them had very viable reasons, like work, taking care of their elderly parents, etc) Some excuses, NOT SO MUCH. :/ These services formally had altered been cut down from WEEKLY, to alternating Wednesdays between baptisms(roughly 100+ a service), and communion on the other. (where it was a ‘ya’ll come/see the music ‘worship’ show, and say ‘Yeah God’, have crackers n juice for that month). Yes, they had many great community outreaches (and world outreaches, also), and a big church may need to have their resources curtailed, honed, and refined to maximize their followers needs, etc. BUT is Heaven GOING TO BE ‘CORPORATELY RUN’ , ‘WEEDING OUT’ WITH addition BY subtraction??? http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew%2025:41-46&version=ESV and He shows them the ULTIMATE ‘Subtraction by Addition’ Eternal Death by SUBTRACTING them from Heaven, and ADDING them to an eternal hell. (which was THEIR choice, although after being in MANY churches as you, and I described, will be many people who ‘thought’ they KNEW God!)

    Some of the business modeling is good, BUT don’t throw ‘the baby out with the bath water’. Is just my lowly opinion, and I’m BETTER because of Christ Jesus, NOT BITTER because of the mega church. Just pointing out things some/most are not aware of.

    In Christ,


  • Mark McIntyre

    Groupthink is as big a danger in churches as it is in industry or any other social organization. Sometimes the status quo must be challenged for growth to result.

    Also, fallen human nature can lead us to a flawed self image. We see it in sports when an unproductive player thinks he is entitled to play. We see it in industry when a man aspires to a job that is beyond his ability. Why would we not see this in the church?

    We need a community where grace and truth are operating so that when a ministry or person is hurting the community it can gracefully be addressed.

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