Church Growth

Within the sphere of the readers of this paper are some splendid churches that have found a spiritual need niche and are admirably filling it. They are reaching people and ministering to them. These churches come in varying sizes and use different styles of worship. But, then…. Well, first this.

Reputedly an old Quaker was awakened by a would be burglar in his house. He got his shotgun, went down stairs, flipped on the light and stood facing the intruder to whom he said, “I would not hurt thee for the world, but thou art standing where I am about to shoot.” The pastors and people to whom the following applies with have one of several responses. Some will be in denial and declare it doesn’t apply to them. Some might very well get angry. Others with exonerate themselves explaining why they can’t change. Another group will conclude the insights were shared in good faith and respond in a productive way. First, you can’t be a New Testament church in a growing urban community such as our and not grow. In summary the church is mandated to reach, teach, win, and develop people. Where that is done there is growth. Conversely where there is no growth that church is failing to live up to their commission.

Excellence is shown by the attention given to little things. Start at the front door. Explain to your greeters how important their role is. Train them in detail as to what to do and say. We visit many churches and have heard offensive comments. “What are you doing here?” is common. One church where I have preached several times has a big greeter if someone perfunctorily says, “How are you?” actually says, “I am happier that a fat pig in the sunshine.” Another brags his response is, “I tell ‘um if they can’t tell by looking there is no reason for me to tell them.”

Leaders for God’s sake, that is not blasphemy, I mean literally for the sake of God program for the needs of the people not your personal desire. Most churches that are growing are relatively new starts. One reason why older ones aren’t growing is their membership has grown old. When it comes to making changes to meet needs that have changed that is a two sided coin. These older people must not be disenfranchised. They deserve to be ministered to. At all cost minister to them. Let them know they are wanted and needed, not overlooked. On the other hand they need to be led to see what the needs of the emerging generation are and what it takes to reach them.

Little things impress people in a big way. Start and stop on time. Whatever you do, do it as unto the Lord, that is, as nearly perfect as possible. Pastors purge your default statements from your vocabulary. Don’t say “Amen” every time you are trying to cover a verbal glitch. Expunge “Uh” from your mental dictionary. Even if you have to have a family member or friend count how many times you use it to develop avoiding it. Be the best speaker possible. Be prepared. Don’t preach because you have to say something. Preach because you have something to say that the people NEED to hear. Know and love your people so you will be aware of what spiritual, cultural, emotional, social, and personal needs you need to address. Church leaders need to meet and ask themselves some hard questions and deal with some difficult issues in order to fulfill their function. I share this encouragement. You can do it.