How Ministers Grow Congregations

A Growing Church

National Association of Christian Ministers Leadership Series 

Michael Mooney, NACM Exec. Elder
After ordination into ministry, one of the most common questions ministers ask is: “How do I reach people?”

My natural response is to ask them, “Have you asked God for people to reach?”

After all, Jesus clearly said “Ask, and you will receive. Search, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened for you. (Mat 7:7 GW).  God will answer this prayer.  John tells us that we can have the confidence “that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. (1Jn 5:14 ESV).  However, it is important to mention that there may be one condition that must be met. James highlights this saying, “When you pray for things, you don’t get them because you want them for the wrong reason-for your own pleasure.”(Jas 4:3 GW).

Unfortunately, asking for the wrong reasons often hits closer to home than we would like to admit. As ministers of the Gospel, when we ask God for people unto which we may minister, we should invite Him to search our hearts for the true desire of our request.  Here are a few self-examining questions to carry to the Holy Spirit in prayer:

Do I find myself in the midst of arguments, debates, or misunderstandings when sharing my vision with other believers?

    • Is my calling motivated by the belief that I am surrounded by incompetent church leadership
    • Am I unwilling to follow the lead of others?
    • Do I have a hidden desire to be in the spotlight? 
    • Do I like hearing myself preach or talk?
    • Am I impressed by my own ideas?
    • Do I need to feel needed or important?
    • Am I trying to enlist “church-hoppers” in my efforts?

If we are truthful with ourselves, and we answer “yes” to one or more of the above questions, we may not be in a position for God to answer our prayer for more people unto which to minister.


However, if we can approach God with a pure heart, it may be time to pray the prayer of Jabez over our calling to ministry.  “Jabez prayed to the God of Israel, “Please bless me and give me more territory. May your power be with me and free me from evil so that I will not be in pain.” God gave him what he prayed for.” (1Ch 4:10 GW).

Question for personal reflection: Is it time to pray for more territory, or first for a pure heart?
Last Note Solomon’s Prayer for Leadership
And now, O LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of David my father, although I am but a little child. I do not know how to go out or come in. And your servant is in the midst of your people whom you have chosen, a great people, too many to be numbered or counted for multitude. (1Ki 3:7-8 ESV).