Getting churches ready for growth is an important step in preparation for the upcoming harvest of souls. Growing a church takes vision, thought and strategy. Successful churches are those that follow a God-given vision and map out steps to achieve that vision. The beauty of the body of Christ is that God uses everyone in a slightly different way and those unique qualities that each church has is what God uses to create a beautiful tapestry in the church world.
Church growth is not about competing with the ministry down the street but more about how the people God has planted in the local church are disciplined and used by God with their unique gifts. I believe people are called to churches for a specific purpose. We are all on a journey and the church helps us develop as Christians and supports our unique calling.In his book, Purpose Driven Church, Rick Warren says “….since the church is a living organism, it is natural for it to grow if it is healthy…If a church is not growing it is dying...” This can be a scary concept for a small local church.
With growth comes many challenges but the exciting thing is that with God ALL things are possible and He gives wisdom freely!I have a theory that some churches fail to grow – thrive – because the leadership gets comfortable with the way things are and doesn’t do anything to change the status quo. This may be ok – but it may not be. Could it be that there are people who could benefit from a particular church body that is stagnant?
7 Keys to Church Growth
1. Know Where the Church is Going
There is an old saying if you fail to plan, you plan to fail
. This is true in business as well as churches. Having a well defined vision, mission and values statement
sets the direction for any organization and developing a strategic plan
to map out the steps to get there is how a vision is achieved. People are drawn to a vision and purpose and get excited about being a part of an organization as it matures, develops and grows. It can be a very satisfying experience for a congregant to be able to share stories of the early days
and celebrate a churches journey!
2. Create an Inviting Atmosphere
It is unfortunate but the sad fact is we are a consumer driven society and people are naturally drawn to an aesthetically appealing environment. People like to be proud of where they worship so providing an environment that is comfortable, clean and orderly is important. Paying attention to things like clean, stocked restrooms, clean glass surfaces and freshly vacuumed carpeting can go a long way in creating a comfortable atmosphere.
3. Create a Welcoming Culture
There are not many things that are as awkward for a visitor to a church as to either be ignored or to be overwhelmed with attention. Everyone wants to be greeted but not everyone is comfortable being inundated with unwelcome attention. It is important to remember that many people who visit a church are looking for something – a time with God. They might be exploring the Christian faith for the first time or checking to see if the church culture is a good fit. There is a tricky balance to creating a welcoming culture but with socially skilled people and a little training it can be done.
4. Care for the Congregants
Congregants or parishioners are one of the key customer groups in a church. Understanding their unique needs and ensuring their needs are met – within the scope of the vision – is critical to church growth. For example, if the church has volunteer opportunities, make sure the application and communication process is a good experience. Or if a volunteer is given a job or responsibility, try to make sure they know what is expected of them and have what they need to do their job. Having said that, there are people who sometimes make unreasonable demands for things that don’t line up with the vision or strategy of the church and can be difficult to deal with. I had a pastor friend once say he would respond to this kind of person with either love me or leave me but don’t stay here and fight me… Some people are unreasonable and you need to just let them move.
5. Offer Opportunities to Serve
At the core of all of us is a desire to serve others. Jesus did it and as Christians we need opportunities to help other people. So whether it is serving meals to the less fortunate, organizing mission trips, or helping others in a time of crisis – opportunities to serve offers congregants the chance to use their gifts to help God’s people. A well defined strategic plan
can help identify the kinds of service opportunities that support the vision of the church.
6. Proper Management of Church Resources
God provides financial resources to churches and there is responsibility that comes with managing those funds. Churches that are good stewards of ministry funds and are diligent with their budgeting processes are better prepared financially for the needs of expanding facilities, updating equipment and other necessities to operate a church. There needs to be good oversight and management of God’s money! I believe God’s money is the most important money in the world to manage well! Being a good steward of ministry funds is an important responsibility of the call.
7. Enjoy the Ride
Whether you are the senior pastor, a business administrator or a church secretary, the call should be enjoyable, fulfilling and balanced. Spending time with God is what fuels the call and the anointing to do what needs to done in a church. I have a quote written in the back of my bible that says, Don’t get so caught up in the ministry of the Lord that we forget the Lord of the Ministry.
If God called you into ministry, don’t take that call lightly, spend time with Him and He will instruct you in the way you should go! If you take that instruction, write the vision down and map out a plan to get there – biblical church growth is inevitable!