Church growth is one of those things that is talked about at nearly every church leadership conference. While there are no magic bullets or formulas for growth, I have some ideas that just might help the more than 85% of American churches that, according to recent reports, are struggling with declining attendance.
Here are a few of them:
1. Start utilizing a different benchmark. In my own denomination, the annual church report focuses on enrollment and attendance. You know what? I don’t really focus a lot on the enrollment number because many of those folks couldn’t be found with help from federal agencies! I think the more helpful thing on which to focus is the number of people who are serving in our churches. Jesus wasn’t merely enrolled in something, nor was he just an attender. He was involved with the people through ministry and service. And I think service is a hallmark of a growing disciple.
2. Don’t feel the need to do it all. So many churches today get overwhelmed as they try to keep up with other churches in their communities. No one church can do everything. There are many great opportunities in ministry, but we must be able to say ‘no’ to some things so that we can say ‘yes’ with our whole heart to some other things for which God has uniquely gifted that particular congregation.
3. Connect with the community. After all, that’s where the people are! So many times we do everything in our power to get people to come to church, when the fact is that Jesus told us to follow His lead and go to them. By building relationships with people where they are, we can model a kind of servant evangelism that is very needed in our world today.
4. Have fun together as a church. Christians so often get a bad rap for being ‘sticks in the mud.’ But I know from personal experience how much fun we can have together. Be intentional about creating opportunities to have fun and fellowship with one another through classes and small groups — and as a whole congregation. People are naturally drawn to folks who know how to have a good time!
And finally . . .
5. Invite people to be a part of what you’re doing! Research shows that most people who are unchurched would likely attend a church service or activity, if only someone would invite them. For too long we have believed the naysayers who tell us that people don’t want to be bothered. Nonsense! In this world in which we live, people are starved to death for real relationships with people who care.
Remember, spiritual growth is always the main thing . . . but numerical growth is definitely an indicator that cannot be ignored. And every church should find at its base a ministry strategy firmly grounded in prayer and Scripture.
IT’S YOUR TURN!
- What is one small thing you can do to help your church improve its potential for growth?