I am predicting that Northwest Baptist in Oklahoma City, where I was this last weekend, will double in the next five years or less. But it is not for any of the reasons you might think.
It is not because they have a lot of momentum. They don’t. They have been on a plateau for a number of years. Churches are far easier to keep growing than they are to get growing. They don’t have that luxury. They have a long, solid history. But, not a lot of growth momentum.
It is not because they have a great location. They don’t. Although they get a lot of drive-by traffic, theirs is a typical mid-city location (not downtown; not suburbs). The people who attend the church, generally speaking, don’t live in the immediate neighborhood and those who do live in the neighborhood don’t perceive it to be their kind of church.
It is not because they have a great building. It is a nice building, but probably a bit uppity for the blue color and ethnic neighborhood.
It is not because they worked hard at an aggressive visitation program, although they did. They had forty to fifty teams–count them–one hundred and fifty people out knocking on doors for two solid years with very little results.
It is not because they spent money on advertising, although, again, they did. About $50,000 on advertising, mostly billboards. Again, they did not see much difference.
It is not because they have started a new contemporary congregation. Although the congregation is doing well with 150 or so in attendance, it has not affected overall attendance very much. This is a new venture for them, and they have just improved the location and called a new worship leader who has raised the music to a new level. The service is hot. I think it will do well. Still this is not the reason I am predicting they will double.
It is not because of the myriad of aggressive, creative programs they have done. Things like. . .
Nope, none of those things are the reason why I am predicting Northwest will double. None of these things have gotten them the results they want yet. (Sometimes it takes a while for the seed to grow.) I am predicting Northwest will double for a different reason.
I predict Northwest Baptist will double because the have an attitude that says, “We must double” and “We will keep trying till we figure out how to double.” The gospel is powerful. The fields are white. God is good. He still saves. He is looking for a people that really want their groups to double and are willing to try and fail and try and fail and try and fail. It is called persistence.
This attitude is demonstrated in all the things they are willing to try. But it is not these things, necessarily, that will cause them to grow. It is the attitude behind these things.
Some leaders are looking for one silver bullet that will make ministry easy. Maybe it is direct mail, or a seeker service or a new visitation program. More likely it will never be easy. But, with persistence, we can double our classes every two years or less. We can double our churches every five years or less. We can double the Church in the next 20 years.
Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 1 Cor. 15:58 (NIV)