No matter how great your church is, you’ll always have people leave. But when they leave for no good reason (that you know of) you’re left to simply assume that your church, your message, your worship, your connections just aren’t good enough. But that’s not entirely true. There is something you can do to identify the reasons why your church growth is hindering so the church body will ultimately flourish.
Church can’t happen if people don’t show up.
You need to get them to your church.This is obviously what hinders a church from growing. Getting people in the door requires churches to focus on 3 things:
- Let people know you’re there. If people don’t know you exist, they won’t show up. When people hear your church’s name, they think and feel something about your church. Most people will visit your website before they walk in your doors. Can they find you online and navigate it easily? Does it work on mobile devices? Is it easy to figure out when and where you meet? Assess these above questions as potential hindrances to church growth and how you can remedy them.
- Let people know you care. Jesus said they’d know that we were His disciples based on our love (John 13:35). If it was enough to say “I love you” everyone could buy a parrot to chant that phrase all day long and be happy, but it’s not. Love is a verb. What do people see your church doing? Even though we don’t do good works to be praised by men, the scripture is clear, “They will see our good works and glorify our Father in Heaven” (Matthew 5:16); but they can only see our good works if we’re actually doing good works.
- Let people know they’re there. Visiting a new church is stressful. People make decisions about your church within the first 10 minutes. This clock starts running the second they enter your parking lot. They’ll make judgments (whether they mean to or not) about your whole church before they even hear your opening prayer. Treat your guests like you would in your own home from the moment they pull into your driveway. What do they see when they arrive? Are they greeted and made to feel welcome and valued?
Don’t waste people’s time or they won’t come back.
Make things meaningful. Start and end your services on time. If you’re making announcements, keep them clear and concise. Decide to create good experiences of God’s presence, His Word, His love, and His power. Just as there are several factors that hinder church growth, there are also three things that people constantly look for in a church:
- Teaching– Are you teaching God’s word? Are you connecting with them and making it applicable? Is your message fresh? People don’t want to hear the same stories and illustrations every week.
- Worship– It doesn’t matter if your worship service is contemporary or traditional, but it does matter if you’re doing it well.
- Kids– Make it safe, clean, fun and meaningful. You could have John Calvin, John Wesley, and Billy Graham leading your kids’ ministry, but mommy won’t bring her kids back if it’s not safe and clean. Parents ask their kids a two fold question when they pick them up from the children’s ministry program: What did you learn, and did you have fun?
Please don’t let these be the reasons why your church doesn’t grow. We are called to be purpose filled people according to 1 Peter 2:9, “That you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” One way to do this is to make the buildings look nice and feel safe, the music sound good to all ears, and share meaningful messages to connect people with God’s truth.
Money is a tool, but it’s not the goal.
Giving makes all the difference and it makes things happen. Jesus used money to fund His ministry the same way we use money to fund ours. Handle giving with care because it’s a delicate issue and the lack of funding in a church can very well be what can cause a church not to grow.
- Share your vision– People give to vision not necessarily to need. When you’re excited about what God is doing and talking with others about it, they will give. Then, tell them about the impact their gift had. This reinforces their giving and includes them in the fruition of the vision.
- Make giving simple– people won’t give if it’s too difficult. Make it simple by offering multiple giving options like cash, checks, credit cards, debit, online, mobile, and text giving. More and more people pay their bills online and/or set them up automatically- the same can be done with their tithes and offerings. The easier it is to give, the more people will do it.
Don’t rush the process.
Discipleship takes time, in fact, it takes years to learn how to live as members of God’s Kingdom because its values and principles are not like earthly ones. If people aren’t coming back, they grow stale, dry up, burn out, or remain immature in their faith. If they come back, we trust that Christ’s Spirit will both work through us to reach them and move within them to change their hearts. Be intentional and patient in your discipleship efforts by remembering the 4 E’s:
- Engage– Meet people where they are, go to them, and connect relationally with them.
- Establish– At the right time, share the doctrines and disciplines of the Christian faith. Teach them to turn to Christ and away from sin.
- Equip– Give people the tools they need to live victoriously and share the Gospel with others.
- Empower– Point people to Christ as the source of all power and pray for them to be empowered by His presence.
You can’t do it all yourself.
Get people involved in the life of the church and the community. Active engagement marks a growing disciple. If you want to know what are the factors that can hinder the growth of a church, the lack of involvement is all too telling. You will know your church has impacted someone’s life when they, in turn, help you impact the lives of others. People who believe in the gospel share the gospel. People who’ve been forgiven share forgiveness, and those who’ve been restored work to see restoration in others.
- Let them know who you are, where you came from, what you do, why you do it, how it’s done, where you’re going along with what you believe, why you believe it, and how that belief changes the way you live.
- Lead them to discover their personal gifting and purpose. Encourage them to take a personality profile or spiritual gift test. They won’t know where they fit, if they don’t know who God made them to be.
- Provide them opportunities to try serving in ministry areas that match their make-up and help them find their best fit to maximize their potential.
- Don’t schedule so many church activities that your people become isolated from their communities. If people can’t spend time with the lost, they can’t reach them. They need time to develop relationships with others.
- The gospel has roots in your church when it bears fruit in your community. People want to serve others, so create paths to service and remove roadblocks.
Chances are, you’re doing a lot of things right. Equally true, you probably need to make some adjustments within your church so that newcomers, visitors, and members can stick around long enough to see God transform their lives through His Son, your church, your groups, your interactions, and your prayers. Seeing new people come to faith in Christ and find wholeness excites everyone. We want to see God’s Kingdom reign in the hearts and lives of others. It’s not a numbers game, but numbers matter because every number has a name and every name matters to God.
As the Vice President of Marketing for ACS Technologies, John is responsible for Marketing’s overall corporate strategy and direction. Storyteller, promoter, problem solver to churches of all sizes and shapes. John has traveled the world working with prominent non-profit ministries. He also serves on the board of directors for Dayspring International.