When it comes to some of the great big problems many parishes face these days, sometimes the simplest answers are the most helpful. And often the cheapest. Off the top of my head I can think of dozens of things our parish does that makes us more attractive to the unchurched. And they cost us nothing. Anyway, here are five.
- Stop Fighting, Stop Gossiping, Stop Complaining
In-fighting, gossip, and complaint have killed more churches than any moral failure or financial malfeasance. But before they kill a church, they make it really unattractive.
It’s hard to convince the world of God’s love when we’re constantly fighting. If this is your parish there is absolutely no mystery as to why you’re not growing.
- Kill Your “Churchy-Church” Culture
Every parish has it’s own culture, which is fine. But oftentimes that culture is designed for churchpeople. We use church words that outsiders don’t understand and local customs that they don’t know. So much of what goes on just underscores that the newcomer doesn’t belong…and reinforces for them why they don’t want to belong. Here’s the thing: if someone has to learn a code to join your church, you won’t have many people joining.
- Invite People To Embrace With Your Mission, Not Your Methods
The reason change is so difficult in many churches is because members fall in love with methods, not with mission: the style of liturgy or music, the architecture of the building, the personal appeal of the pastor, a particular approach to preaching. Those are all methods that can, and sometimes should, change. The mission is to love God, love others, and make disciples and that’s what parishioners should be embracing and advancing.
- Overstate Your Vision
Vision is critical to health and growth, and many parishes leaders simply don’t have one. You must develop and clearly articulate your vision. But, even that is not enough. You’ve got to communicate it, over and over again because people are slow to learn it and quick to forget it. The best way to get people excited about your church is to get them excited about your vision for your church.
- Give Expression to Energy, Excitement, and Enthusiasm
It’s really interesting, even amazing, how low energy many church communities seem, how unenthusiastic they appear, how little enthusiasm is evidenced for what is going on. Imagine going to a football game where everyone looked disengaged. To grow a healthy church, to attract the unchurched, to be the kind of Church Christ told us to be, this must change.
For another take on this check out careynieuwhof.com