Church growth essentials: Understanding the “Big Picture”


By Chuck Klein and Dean Byler

In the context of church growth, “big picture” thinking provides the framework for establishing, maintaining and improving church financial health. Such a mindset requires focus and education in four interconnected areas of church finance:

  1. Operational budget support (Tithing)
  2. Missions (Great Commission obedience)
  3. Capital Campaigns (Expansion and improvements)
  4. Legacy Giving (Vision-minded, forward-looking)

Developing a big-picture financial strategy involves equipping and engaging your church in  a way that hearts and lifestyles, and therefore decisions, change and mature.

To kick off this three-part series, we  explore how the transformation of the heart — and its motives — prompts faithful, eager participation in each of the above areas.

Part 1: Transform the Heart, Align the Treasure

If big-picture thinking provides the framework for church growth, the foundation rests on John 15:5. “I am the Vine,” the Savior reminds us, “and you are the branch.”

Read “Church Growth essentials” in each issue!

In future installments, Chuck Klein and Dean Byler will discuss how generosity fuels the big picture and how to create momentum for the generous heart.

The evidence of lives rooted in Christ — discipleship, service, outreach, giving, etc. — proves and lends momentum to healthy churches. The collective character of Christ, in motion and on display in individual lives, fuels good works and brings unity to your people and your process.

Why, then, do many church leaders and administrators instead look to statistical markers — parking spots, certificates of baptism, annual tax letters — to determine progress (or lack thereof)? Do we look equally hard at attendees’ giving motives, relationship attitudes and spiritual maturity?  How about our own?

If you allow yourself to look beyond headcount to do a heart check in your congregation, it becomes clear that many of the people filling the pews are struggling.

An uncomfortably honest assessment of the condition of your church body will reveal the full range of emotional challenges, including depression, anxiety and anger; in turn, these yield the full range of sinful behavior. All of this hurt and consequence robs your congregation of its power to advance God’s work through the witness and productivity of their lives. With so many needs left unaddressed, overlooked and unhealed, can we honestly wonder why offerings run low, participation stays sporadic, and vision goes unfunded?

By contrast, when the heart of the believer is healthy — rooted in Christ and bearing the fruit of His strength and peace — his or her treasure will align with Godly motives and Biblical objectives. When we identify with the character of Christ, we join Him in doing the things He sees the Father doing (John 5:19). Biblical priorities, including the financial areas mentioned above, are held in higher regard than ever before, and obedience to the Father springs from a place of love and joy, not fear and dread.

Consider guiding your church through a simple course designed to address the type of attitudes that frequently undermine the believer’s peace and effectiveness as a disciple of Jesus. In our work with churches, we use a four-week study, Be Transformed, which we developed in conjunction with counselor and author John Murphy, founder of Many courses endeavor to teach the mind and end up manipulating the heart; our priority remains fostering a heart of spiritual prosperity (3 John 1:2) while growing the congregation’s desire to know God, and to please Him (Rom 8:8).

Viewed as a group, the hearts of the individual believers comprising a church body represent the heart of that church. Individuals need the transformation God offers them so they can experience more of the promised divine nature. Romans 12 encourages us to be transformed, not to conform to the world, and that He desires to mold us to progressively reflect the heart of Christ. The path to a vibrant, passionate, missional, empowered and growing church lies in reaching the heart of the body at the individual level.

Read more about heart transformation.

Chuck Klein leads Impact Stewardship, a capital stewardship ministry headquartered in Nashville, TN. Serving churches for more than 14 years, he offers mature insight into all aspects of church financial health, guiding churches to fulfill their vision through heart transformation and radical participation. Dean Byler serves as Impact’s education coordinator and director of business development.


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