Thermostat Growth Levels Exercise

1.5 Thermostat Growth Levels: The goal of this exercise is to notice and identify anxiety increasing as a trend of change develops. This is a brainstorming exercise to imagine what happens at successive increases in local church growth. The first goal is to be able to identify the consequences of each change (reinforcing trend) and identify the changes in infrastructure necessary to cope with challenges (adaptation in the balancing process).

            If the balancing process cannot cope with the change, the system will take steps restore stability by decreasing the number of persons in attendance. Have someone take notes – perhaps on a laptop computer – of the changes to write up later.

            The second goal of the exercise is to identify at what point the growth itself begins to seem unreal and/or uncomfortable. That’s your own point of anxiety beyond which you would be pushing the trend.

            Repeat the steps until those in the brainstorming group all feel the anxiety of change and twice beyond the step where this high anxiety point is reached.

            Discuss the point at which each person began to feel anxious and reach consensus about which stage the system reached a point of high anxiety, and what led to that conclusion.

            ____ Our current church attendance.

            Step #______

                        Increase the current church attendance by 50%. = ______

                        What will the church be like at this size?

                        What will be different? What will remain the same?

                        What problems could arise? What could resolve them?





[1] The quote is a selection from David O. Kueker’s Fuller Seminary Doctor of Ministry project submitted in September, 2007, entitled Diagnosis, Dialogue, and Decision: A Threefold Process of Revitalization For the Illinois Great Rivers Conference.
It is shared here in recognition of its 12th Anniversary along with comments to update and provide perspective on the material. The original project was a Training Manual/Study Guide of three Seminars supported by three chapters of research and an Introduction. The material is available for download at In 2009 it was provided for purchase as a softcover book entitled Designing Discipleship Systems: Christian Disciple Making For Any Size Church, Any Theology through

[2][3] [4][5] [6][7] [8]

All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Please review the page How and Why We Use Quotes.

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