Growth is a sign of life. Of course, weeds also grow, so it’s important that your church cultivates healthy growth. Whether your congregation is large or small, affluent or financially challenged, old or new, we all want our churches to be places where the Gospel can grow. As one writer puts it, the vision is not to generate “megachurches,” but “mighty churches.” Healthy churches, mighty churches are about discipleship and evangelization, or what we like to call going deeper and wider.
Here are five questions to ask if your church isn’t experiencing healthy growth.
Are you accessible and friendly?
First impressions don’t just count, they’re crucial. People should feel welcomed the moment they enter your doors (not to mention the key point that your doors should be open and accessible). Each week, keep in mind there may be someone attending church for the first time ever, or the first time in a long time. What steps are you taking to make them feel at home? Visitors who receive a warm greeting disengage their defenses and become more inclined to come back.
Are you organized and strategic?
Every church wants to grow and lead people to Christ, but few have a clear and effective strategy to do so. Prepare your congregations to share their faith and follow up with those they’ve invited. For those who work in churchworld, keep in mind most people do not understand, nor care about, the process and documentation needed for ministry or sacramental preparation- they just want to serve. Have trained staff or volunteers who will simplify and guide the process quickly, or else instead of integrating newcomers into your community, you’ll end up reinforcing the negative stereotypes that keep people from coming to the church in the first place.
Are you relevant and engaging?
Most unchurched people’s view of church is that it’s boring and bad. When, on those rare occasions, they show up at church we go ahead and prove them right all over again. An engaging church experience is both relevant and engaging. Sounds simple, but a relevant message is practical and powerful. If you’re confident in your content, but concerned something isn’t clicking, consider that a relevant message also requires a relevant context in order to be received. Music is incredibly important here too. You’ve got to invest in your music if you want to grow.
Do people like you and trust you?
On the surface, a church may seem friendly, but you find the ministries mired in politics and dysfunction and leaders lack integrity. Politics undermine trust, and love cannot exist without trust. Instead of being captured by grace, newcomers are just caught in the crossfire. Sometimes church leaders, from the pastor to the office receptionist, can come off as grumpy and grim rule keepers.
Are you praying, fasting, and giving?
Saint Teresa of Avila described prayer as water for the soul. Surely she would extend this metaphor to church. Your church cannot grow without individual and group prayer. Mobilize prayer events, teams, and small groups to pray for growth. Match your prayer with regular fasting and sacrificial giving. If you want to grow your church leaders need to tithe.
For another take on this topic see: