Mark Johnston: ‘Measure Spiritual Growth’

We asked pastors of some of the nation’s largest churches to share their thoughts on church growth, discipleship, outreach and faithful ministry.

Mark Johnston, Lead Pastor
The Journey
Newark, Delaware

The most helpful focuses in sustaining momentum for our church have been constantly going back to our critical measures of spiritual growth (when the numbers feel good and when they don’t) and nuancing those to see what’s really driving or not driving them. For example, beyond the number of sign-ups for groups, what is group participation like? How do group members break down by age and gender? What percentage of people in a group also serves? We also require a few staff to empower a lot of people, rather than hiring a bunch of staff to do ministry.

A guy on our facilities team described the literal redirecting of his family tree as a result of finding Jesus at our church. The ripple effect of the gospel is extending to family members he never thought would be open to faith. My staff needs me to show them what it looks like to chase after Jesus relentlessly, passionately, honestly and imperfectly. There are mountains that can’t be moved without Jesus intervening, people that can’t be reached without the Father directly drawing them, and spiritual formation that can’t take place without a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit. But when God stretches out his hand …

This is a marathon, not a sprint. I am responsible to steward my time and gifts well but not in charge of the ultimate outcome.

I live like a professional. Professional athletes spend an inordinate amount of time working out; amateurs work out primarily when they feel motivated. I spend an inordinate amount of consistent, weekly time developing my leadership, when I need it and when it seems like I don’t.

Politics and pundits aren’t going to save us. Jesus can. Let’s focus on him.

Read more candid conversations with Outreach 100 pastors »

Twitter: @Mark.Johnston
Founded: 2007
Denomination: Nondenominational
Locations: 1
Attendance: 2,127
Fastest-Growing: 15

Lora Schrock
Lora Schrock

Lora Schrock is editor of Outreach magazine.