Years ago, after selling a small business, I took some time off, painted our house and volunteered time at our church.
In three months, by the surprising grace of God, I was the executive pastor, serving 350 people and about 75 volunteers!
Two years later, the church attendance doubled to 700. Volunteer involvement doubled as well, despite being a “mobile” church (with three different venues in those two years) in a city with lots of churches. There were plenty of other challenges as well.
For the purposes of this blog, we’ll focus on the two keys to this growth…
1. Tell People Why the Church Exists
It might sound elementary, but I challenge you to really examine this point for yourself.
Assuming you’re not the only church in a 50-mile radius, why should people commit to your church? What does the leadership believe is most important for this community? Communicate this—clearly and often.
One way of looking at this is to be clear on what your church is not about.
In other words, have the courage to be lovingly unapologetic…
“We hope you love our church, but here’s what we’re focusing on, and here’s what we’re OK with not being so great at.”
Once you start trying to please everyone, you’ll please no one. As an added bonus, your joy will decrease and your stress will increase!
For example, if a big music team isn’t on your dream list, keep it simple. Help people understand where you are laser-focused.
Just make sure you communicate the “why.”
2. Make Daily Difficult Choices Based on Your “Why”
Lack of follow-through is why many savvy churchgoers roll their eyes at “Vision Sundays” and “Mission Statements.” Face it, these globs of words get stale on a forgotten web page or new members’ PDF and rarely are used in daily decision making.
Every week you’ll be asked about some new ministry idea “the church should do.” Most of these suggestions will be terrific—but that’s also why most churches cave in and try to be all things to all people.
People can sense when a church is rudderless. How? They simply look at actions.
We were almost derailed by a well-intentioned foray into… small groups. Every other church on the planet was doing house groups, and that’s why we started them—or tried to. The amount of effort we put into it and the amount of pressure we exerted on people was huge.
And you know what? Nobody really wanted them in the first place, least of all the senior pastor. The (predictable) result was a few frustrated small group leaders, treading water and hoping for more church support.
Say no thanks.
People respect a church that is clear about their purpose and sticks to their focus. Communities are hungry for dependability and stability. You can’t have that when you’re chasing lots of good ideas at the expense of your great idea.
The best communication is not words anyway, the best communication is action.
People in your city will appreciate a focused church, where words and actions paint a clear picture, even if they choose not to attend! Are you OK with that?Photo by Chris Goldberg