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See you in church on Sunday, pastor

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I have been working the party-driven plan that I teach at the small church that I have been pastoring over the past year and a half. We have had limited success. About what I teach will happen, actually--10 - 15% annual growth. I am wanting more.

We have experimented with several types of parties that have worked well for me in the past and that are, honestly, among my favorites--movie nights and game nights and such. Again, limited success.

Three months ago we stumbled onto something that I am thinking might work even better in the setting I am in. (Allow me to remind you of that setting: 1 mile out of a town of 700 people--90% of them don't speak English.) That town is 7 minutes outside of a town that doesn't have a stop light. We are in the country.

I have been racking my brain to think up things we could do in this location. Can[t go to the movies. No theatre. Can't go bowling. No bowling alley. Can't do Putt Putt. None there.

Three months ago we took a trip. In this case to the Black Range--some mountains about an hour North. We had double our Sunday School attendance at the Black Range.

Then we did a trip to Zoo and Aquarium in Albuquerque. We had about as many as we have attend Sunday School on the trip. This week we went to Wet and Wild in El Paso. Similar attendance.

I am thinking, "These folks don't like to do game nights and movie nights as much as they like to get out of Dodge!"

Wednesday, as one family was leaving, I heard those magic words that are music to every pastor's ears: "See you Sunday, pastor." (By the way, I am not naïve enough to be surprised if they don't show Sunday. I will say we are moving in the right direction.)

Occasionally, people seemed surprised that the party driven strategy that I teach is so effective. Truth is, this was one of the core findings of the early church growth movement: the gospel spreads best on existing relationship lines.

It was one of the key ways the early church grew. Some have called in "Oikos Evangelism." Oikos is the Greek word usually translated "household." It really means, "my people."

The party-driven strategy was verified in the research that was the basis of my new book Make Your Group Grow.

By intentionally strengthening the relationship between your people and people on the outside, you greatly increase the odds that your church will grow.

As it has been for me, this may take some experimenting. Things that are interesting to one group may not be interesting to the next.

Find something that will be interesting to your group and get some activities planned that they naturally invite friends to attend.

 

 

 

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