January 12th, 2011

12 Kinds of Churches- Which One is Yours?

I have identified 12 kinds of churches in North America, in order to provide a practical look at the growth challenges of today. As an introduction to a series, I provide a peak at the list and a few opening thoughts. Each future post will walk through the three groupings; 4 kinds of growing churches, 4 kinds of plateaued churches and 4 kinds of declining churches.


#1 This is not a research project. George Barna, Ed Stetzer and others do a fine job at providing this information. The categories that follow were created from an intuitive synthesis as a result of personal engagements over the past 10 years with over 300 churches. The experiences range from one-day onsite deep dives with church staffs to one-year relationships of monthly onsite work. The only exception to my onsite work is the co::Lab coaching network which has enabled me to develop relationships and track strategically with scores of church planters and small churches in a virtual context.

#2  While the list may categorize most churches it is not designed to be comprehensive. As a blog post ,this list is a subjective, personal reflection. I do hope it provides insight for any pastor.

#3  My language is not creative to be novel, but to provoke thoughtfulness and to set-up application from the point of view of clarity and vision. As I train ministry leaders to create worlds with words, so I hope to open new perspectives with new language.

#4  The growth dynamics of any church body are related to size, life-stage and inherent characteristics stemming from denominational association. While some of these attributes are more prominent for a few of these categories, most of these designations transcend size, life stage and denomination.


  • Neo-transcendance attractionals: Big crowds are coming this Sunday.
  • Micromentums: Lots of variety, seed vision and redemptive passion.
  • Faithfully-focused: Faithful to the gospel, the saints & the surrounding community.
  • New-world traditionals:  Historic patterns for a new generation.


  • Mega-mores: We built it and they didn’t come.
  • Over-competents: Smart leaders with all-things-to-all-people approaches.
  • Succession stalls: Who’s our leader?
  • Strategic multipliers: Great influence but its not in the numbers.


  • Die-visions: More differences of opinion and less people.
  • Havens of care: It’s all about us!
  • Target transplants: Someone moved but our address is the same.
  • Denominational allegiants: If 1950 rolls around again, we’ll be ready.

If you interested in this list and have not subscribed yet to this blog, I invite you to do so. If you are not used to subscribing to blogs, I recommend you subscribe to via e-mail in the box to the upper right. Every post will come to you as an e-mail.

3 Comments on to “12 Kinds of Churches- Which One is Yours?”

  • Jeff says:

    Thank you. Would like to learn more about succession stalls and how to navigate through them.

  • David Lermy says:

    I think our church falls into one of the categories in growing and one of the carltegories that is plataueing.

    Under growing “micromomentums” fits us as we are constantly seeking ways to reach people and bless the community beyond our church walls. Our senior pastor’s driving force is to see kids, youth, and adults redeemed by the Lord. Therefore, we continue to see growth year after year.

    However, the lid we are facing has to do with the category under platueing churches. We deal with the “over-competence” category trying to be so diverse that ministry, volunteers, leaders are spread to thin. We become all things to all people and as you say in Church Unique, we begin to loose sight of our Kingdom Concept, the one major thing that makes us unique and clarifies are main mission.

    I look forward to this series of post! Thanks for your friendship, Will!

  • Deborah LundWerner says:

    How do I find a wonderful biblical and Holy Spirit led church which contains the 5 fold ministry
    of Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Preacher, Teacher and that would be great for my 23 yr old
    daughter who needs to be surrounded by loving strong young believers in Twin Cities, MN?
    Thank you!

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