Church Growth…How do we grow our churches?

I attend a small SBC church. We usually have around 80 or so for Sunday morning worship. The majority of our congregation is elderly. We have 5 or 6 active younger (30’s to 40’s) couples. So, as you can imagine, attracting new people has been a hot topic of conversation. A short article in our local association monthly newsletter touches on the growth issue and got me to thinking after I read it.

So how do you grow your church? I think the first thing to remember is that God is the one who will grow His church. Matthew 16:18 say “….on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” It is His, not ours and we must always remember that. As such, we need to pray that our congregation will become obedient in all that He commands and trust that He will send the workers in His timing.

With that in mind, I want to make a few observations. In our discussions of how to attract more people it seems the first thing that comes to mind is offering more programs. On the surface that sounds like a good direction to go. After all, “If you build it, they will come” (loose semi-quote from the movie Field of Dreams). Right, just offer the right programs, publicize it and the people will show up. There are two major problems I see with this approach. First, as a small church who are you going to get to work these programs. In small churches the people who are willing to work are probably being overworked. You know the old 80-20 or maybe now it is the 90-10 rule. Can you see the catch-22 situation here: You don’t have enough people to work new programs to attract new people and you can’t attract new people without offering new programs. What do you do? Second, the people who come for the new programs are committed to the programs, not the church. By this I mean that as soon as something newer and “bigger” is offered by another church they may leave and attend where that program is offered. I am not sure that it is possible to stop this because some people just want to be part of the “hot new thing”. Considering the time, money, and other resources (which are usually very limited in small churches) you have to decide if it is worth it. After all, we are commanded to be good stewards of the resources God gives us.

The article referred to a PhD dissertation that “hypothesized that churches who offered more programs would grow more than churches that offered fewer programs”. Interestingly, the research found the opposite was true. It found “that the more programming offered, the less churches grew”. So how should we use this information? It seems we should focus our efforts on only a few areas and do them really well. Not stretch ourselves so thin. This would have the effect of simplifying things for our people and simple is usually better in my opinion (think the KISS principle – Keep It Simple Stupid). One suggestion from the article is that we can offer more options within our existing focus but not more programs.

What do you think – add more programs or simplify and excel at what we do well? If you go to a small church, how has your church dealt with this?

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25 Responses to Church Growth…How do we grow our churches?

  1. Carey says:

    I’ve pastored smaller churches for my entire stint as a Sr. pastor. Your observations are correct – the lack of manpower often limits the amount of new programs you can do. Here is what I’ve noticed so far…

    * A loving, welcoming environment is HUGE! The people of the church have to be taught how to welcome and love visitors (if they don’t already).
    * The church has to get outside it’s building. Some of the “kindness outreach” types of things can be done on a shoestring, but interested members, and over time have a decent impact.
    * What the church has to offer needs to be relevant to modern people (including the music styles used). I’m not saying that we have to do every new program or water down our services, but we do have to make sure we’re not unintentionally alienating people by being stuck in the stone age.
    * Word of mouth is still the best form of advertising. If your people are not excited about your church and passing the word along, nobody is going to be. Maybe provide invitation cards for them to give to people?

    Having said all this – you’re right, it’s up to God in the end.

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  2. soterios@war says:

    Before you can grow churches you first have to understand & promote the true purpose of Christianity, which is to enable man to enter heaven by his spirit while alive in the body, as was the achievement of Christ & his apostles.

    You promote a lie which deceives people into believing that they have salvation when they start out in the faith.
    The ‘work’, ‘labour’, ‘toil’ and ‘suffering’ of the Gospel through spiritual sanctification is misunderstood.
    As it says, they believe not the truth and so are not saved.

    Like

    • Greetings
      The church has never existed in the eyes of God because of poor translating. The word church was created to conceal the invitation that Jesus gave to the children of his divorced wife. These same children had been scattered among the gentiles in the OT see Hosea In the book of Isaiah chapter 50 Jesus lays out how he was going to redeem them. So if they were scattered by the Father as he said he would where in the current translation is the invitation for the children of the wife to come out from the unrighteous gentiles. because the invitation was destroyed by the word church. for 2000 years the invitation has been fought against by the church for they are diabollically opposed the children of Lord being invited out after he redeemed them. He died that he could remarry his divorced wife and the church denies them the right to the inviation. 80 times in the new Testament the word ekkleesia or ekkleesian is translated wrong wrong. Just because they translated the text wrong does not make the church right. Wrong is wrong no matter what color you paint it. The church was not found in the wilderness even if the text says so in Acts 7. The church will never be found in the end for it was never their in the first place. You can build the corrupted heathen church of the Lord Jesus Christ that was created to deceive the unrigheous gentiles who are waith for the wrath to come. If you preach a lie when you begin it is a lie when you end. Jesus never said I will build my church and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it. She is not an It and her name is not the church Matthew 16:18 I will home build the wife of Me, being the ones invited out from among the gentiles where they were scattered by my father, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against HER.. There is the invitation to those scattered in the OT and Peter writes to the scatthered in the cities of Asia and he quotes two passages from the OT saying they are the people who were the children of God became not the children of God and once more are the children of God hebrews only James writes to the 12 tribes scattered the book of Hebrews is to the Hebrews the book of Romans is not to the Romans but to the ethnee ekkleeesia Galations is not to the Galatians but to the ethnee ekkleesia in every book it is always the ethnee ton ekkleesian the righteous gentiles being the ones, being the ones invited our from among the unrighteous gentiles of this world . The same gentiles that God has hated from the foundation of the earth. Jesus said not to go in the way of the gentiles and they were of their father the devil. Who has warned them of the wrath to come. The church is nothing more that doing business on the other side of the street with the corrupted messsage that God will save gentiles and convert them to Hebrews.

      See my web page for more details on all of thise subjects and more.

      http://www.myprivatelib.com

      Thank you for reading all of this

      Jerry Collins

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  3. billphillips says:

    Tom,

    Those are interesting points that I had never thought of before. I think God’s plan for growing churches is for Christians to go out and preach the gospel. People will get saved, and the church will grow. Of course, in my experience, it’s a huge problem to actually get people to go out and witness.

    Also, I think people often get confused. They think that the Sunday mornings are for getting people saved. Church is for believers, and the pastor should preach for believers. He shouldn’t dumb down the sermon to attract outsiders. Evangelism is something every Christian should be doing outside of church.

    Thanks,
    Bill

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    • Greetings if christians should be taking the message to anyone it is only to the children of the divorced wife who was redeemed, No gentiles allowed for Jesus said not to go in the way of the gentiles and that he came only for the lost sheep of the House of Israel Hebrews of the family of God. the only family he has every known Amos 3 no gentiles allowed, No missionaries to the genitles of the middle east or in the center of Africa. We are only sent to the ethnee the righteous gentiles of the house of Israel. When was the last time you sent missionaries looking for the lost sheep of the house of Israel? God is very very selective he only wants Hebrews of the House of Israel , as for the children of the house of Judah do not have to get saved for they were never lost and with out the covenants. Christians should first know that the word is not translated, it is an ongoing conditioning not something that your are or will be come that is why there is no christians in the church. Read Acts 11:26 and correct the four errors in that one verse alone where you find the word “christians”
      Read the Greek and make the corrections. Do not use the Latinized Greek that you learn in school for all it does it carry foreward the same errors where Grammar is King.
      learn it for your self.
      Thank you for reading this I hope it helps you understand the church in the eyes of God.and his word.
      go to my webpage I add new material all the time and it will cover this subject and more.
      http://www.myprivatelib.com

      Here from you soon

      Jerry Collins

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    • james says:

      yes how do people go out and preach the word when you aren’t allow to. I came from Africa where its legal to preach the gospek everywhere: on the streets, on the public transports, etc, but it is not allow over here!
      I am confused, I started a work but the people aren’t coming, even friends and relatives aren’t coming and I can truly tell you that I try to preach the uncompromising full gospel and I live what I preach,what do I do?
      I been praying for God to show me what to do, but it seems like no answer. I need to talk to someone

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      • john fisher says:

        Keep the faith James!!! God does have a plan for us, even as we seem to walk through the dark shadows of this life. HE is our strength and our shield. HE will not fail us. Stay strong and faithful in Christ. HE will give us a crown of life. Elijah once felt completely alone also but God gave him strength by letting him know there where others that where faithful, that he was not aware of. The same is true for you. you are not alone.

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    • miriam says:

      Yes Tom. The Bible says that daily in the synagogue, in the temples and in every house, the disciples preach and teach the word of God and the church grows. i believe that going out and witnessing Christ will help the church to grow.

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  4. Tom says:

    Bill said

    Also, I think people often get confused. They think that the Sunday mornings are for getting people saved. Church is for believers, and the pastor should preach for believers. He shouldn’t dumb down the sermon to attract outsiders. Evangelism is something every Christian should be doing outside of church.

    I am glad to see that you are not an adherent to the seeker sensitive movement. I agree with everything you said….now if we could just figure out how to get others to come around.

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  5. Ron says:

    Leadership with a passion for the lost that is willing to do whatever it takes is the first requirement for church growth.

    Second is to find Pastor/Mentors that are pastoring churches that are ebove your next growth barrier and do what they says. For example; If your are under 100 in attendance, find someone with over 200 and discover the principles that are working for them and implement the same principles.

    If you are at 200 or 300 find church pastors of churches that are at 700 and above. At 200 your leadership culture will have to be diferent for you to go beyound 200.

    Everyone needs coaches and mentors to help them to the next level. You are acting and thinking like a pastor of the size church you are pastoring or your church would be larger. Find someone who can see where your thinking is and who can see what it needs to be for the next level.

    We all harvest what we sow. What you sow in thought and attitude is very important. Grow yourself.

    The speed of the leader is the speed of the pack.

    Ron

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  6. Ron says:

    Tom wrote:
    …now if we could just figure out how to get others to come around.

    Don’t try. Go out and win new people and teach them that what you did with them is normal christianity. Get the names of all their friends and family and network relationships.

    Have your new convert call them and introduce you to them at a small gathering in their home. Share the Gospel with them. When the next person accepts Christ do the same.

    Teach them to do the same. Before long this becomes the culture of the Church. Passion expands, and those who were watching will begin to get involved.

    This is of course simplistic. There is more to it than that but it does demonstrate a good beginning.

    You will need to build teams for follow-up, pastoral care, usher and greeter ministry, etc.

    In all of this do three things as if your very existance as a church depended on it.

    1. Follow up
    2. Follow up
    3. Follow up

    You can do it. You really can. Find Pastor/Mentors. That is a real key.

    God Bless.

    Ron

    Like

  7. msamudio says:

    How about preaching the Gospel?

    Like

    • How about start in the book of Genenis and out line the whole bible first to see what the NT is all about, It is not follow up and the gospel if you dont even know that Jesus did not die for the sins of the whole world. He died that he could remarry the divorced wife Jer 3 Get rid of the church and restore the invitation that the church destroyed, the very invitation that Jesus gave in Matthew 16:18. Go to the people that Jesus told you to go to, the lost sheep of the house of Israel not those gentiles out on the street. The angelic harvestors witll take care of them with an ethnic cleansing soon. and they will bind them and take them out and burn them. see the parable of the Tares. He came only for his own sheep and his sheep know his voice, goats never knew the voice of the Lord and can never be converted to being sheep (Hebrews) Read the beginning of Peter and James along with the book of Hebrews all for the Hebrews that were scattered. Get the message right and God will add to the ones invited out not the church.

      http://www.myprovatelib.com

      Thank you for allowing me to share the account of Jesus coming only for the lost sheep of the House of Israel those children of the Hebrew wife that was divorced.

      Jerry Collins.

      Like

  8. Ron says:

    masamundio said:
    How about preaching the Gospel?

    Great Point! Thank you for helping to keep the main thing the main thing. Of course preaching the Gospel of Christ is the entire point. Otherwise, what is the point of growth? Without Real life changing salvation experiences church becomes a simple religious club.

    One should only apply the principles that are helpful for growth in order that we may increase our serve and preach the Gospel of Grace to an ever widening community.

    We must Preach, Teach and Win the Lost. Church Growth ideas such as I shared in the above replys are not intended to be exclusive to Preaching the Word of God.

    Church Growth should never be about mathmatics. Numbers are only important because each number represents a soul that will spend an eternity either in a lake of fire or with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
    Keep casting those nets!

    God Bless you and your ministry.

    Ron

    Like

    • Sorry Ron no where are we instructed that we must win the lost, My text tells me that the gentiles are waiting the wrath to come and have been rejected since the foundation of the earth. God has already paid for all of those he wants and he said he would not loose one in the sifting process. The ones dispatched by the Lord in Matthew 28:19 was only to the ethnee the righteous gentiles from the OT who did not have a name until the NT. The message was to the ethnee to teach them all things that I have taught you and Baptize them in the Name of the Father and the Son and The Holy Spirit. No repentance no beieiving, no confessiions nothing required except to be an ethnee. Paul went only to the ethnee where he ekkleesia he did not go to the Romans or the Galations for they were all genitles never one was converted under his teaching Peter wirites to those scattered James writes to the 12 tribes in fact every book of the NT is only to the ekkleeisa the ones invited out not the church. The church is the corrupted church of the Lord Jesus Christ for the unrighteous gentiles waiting to be deceived to thinking that they can be come sheep of the House of Israel

      see my webpage for more details
      http://www.myprivatelib.com
      Thank you for allowing me to share about the inviation of the ones being invited out from among the unrighteous gentiles.

      Jerry Collins

      Like

  9. Becky says:

    Our church in an attempt to attract more children is soon to start an exercise class. Mothers could come to the exercise class for an hour and then their children are looked after and taught the word of God. The music to which the exercise would be done will be Christian and our intention is to have competetions for the children to which the results would be announced on the Sunday to help the growth of our Junior church. If anyone has any helpful suggestions they would be gratefully appreciated as this is the first time we have ever considerd anything like this.

    Like

  10. Anonymous says:

    Its sad but true, We can and by the masses do, comvert endless numbers of people to christianity and fill endless numbers of brick buildings with beings that have never met Christ!

    Like

  11. seth dodoo says:

    how can my church effectively evangelise around it’s locals – any suggestions

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  12. Tom Shelton says:

    Seth,

    I am no expert on the subject but it seems that your people have to be motivated to do it and given a method that is simple to use.

    There are several good programs out there. If you do a search you should find many. I might suggest the Way of the Master method. I also like most of the F.A.I.T.H method.

    Like

  13. Richard says:

    I find it fascinating that in this dialogue no one has discussed the teaching or preaching of true doctrine. Christ grew the church merely by preaching truth. He didn’t organize a building committee. He didn’t hire a research specialist to gauge public opinion. He simply taught the truth and people flocked to Him. Too many churches preach story sermons of feel-good encouragement without teaching gospel doctrine or eternal truths. People are attracted to a church that offers an unchanging anchor support in an ocean of turbulence. I have listened to too many preachers on Sunday morning miss the target completely and then pass around a collection plate. No wonder they can’t keep parishioners in the pews!

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  14. mensah kwakye says:

    please i have been transfer to a new church but my maximum attendances on Sunday service is hundred which is not encouraging.what can i do to improve or increase it to three hundred within a year.

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  15. Dear Sir, Greetings in the marvelous name of Jesus! I am so happy for your encouragement and even though I am following some of the instructions that you have mentioned for church growth, I will try to do the needful.
    Actually I am living in India and serving in Thane which is a heavily populated city and thrilling with idol worshipers and Hindu temples and religious fanatics and if you ever happen to visit this city, I am sure you will come to the same conviction that Jesus so compassionately stressed upon, viz., “The fields are ripe and ready for harvest”. But the problem I am facing is of fear. There has been persecution several times and I am like many others scared sick to face even well-dressed and beautiful people walking on the streets to give them a tract or to tell them about Jesus Christ and the Good News. So I request you to kindly uphold me in your fervent prayers that the Lord may give me the boldness that I need, to stand on the streets and distribution the tracts and Gospels. Thanking you for obliging, may God bless you abundantly!
    P.S. Waiting for your reply.

    Like

    • john fisher says:

      God Bless you Arvind!!! You are a great encouragement to me as a Christian.I know that God will give you the strength you need for HIS boldness. Please pray that for us all.

      Like

  16. Busayo John says:

    i am a pastor of a strugling small church, i av tried all methods i knew but nothing much has changed please i need advise……….i can bear to cee the church die when am still breathing.( whatever it takes in righteousness i am willing to do for it to survive)………………..waiting for reply

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  17. Clifford Godspower says:

    I am blessed by your article but what are suggested programmes for a small church that has reach a pleatue.What can motivate the old members as well.

    Like

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