The Growth Funnel
When I was in sales, my broker taught me about the sales funnel.
It occurs to me there is great application for growing a church.
We sold commercial property. The steps to selling a property
looked like this:
- Get a listing
- Receive calls/ send brochures
- Call back/ assess interest/ answer questions
The key point my broker wanted to communicate to me as he
explained this was, you have to have a bunch of #4 if you ever
expect to get any of #10. The mistake of the rookie salesman is
assuming every inquiry is a paycheck.
Seen graphically, it might look like this:
The Growth Funnel
Just as salesmen have a sales funnel, churches have a growth
funnel. (This is the idea behind the parable of the seed and the
soil.) The Growth Funnel might look like this:
- Pre-evangelism events
The usefulness of the growth funnel is in answering this
question: where is the funnel blocked?
- Are we not getting enough visitors? (Do more pre-evangelism
- Are the visitors not coming back? Are they not joining?
(Give Friday Nights to Jesus; Invite every member and every
visitor to every fellowship every month.)
- Are we not making true disciples of the ones that attend?
(Improve disciplemaking process.)
Magnet Factor / Velcro Factor / Growth Rate
Let's say you set a goal of doubling your church in five years.
This works out to 15% growth. I suggest you have someone actually
keep up with this on a month by month basis. Each month we measure
whether this month's attendance was above the same month a year ago.
Tracking this month by month accounts for seasonal differences in
attendance, and smoothes out weekly variations in attendance.
I suggest you create a graph each month that looks like this:
Clearly, the growth rate is slipping. The question is, Why?
Are we failing to get visitors to visit, or are we failing to get
people who are visiting to join? Or, is it something else?
So, the next step is to look at the Velcro factor. How sticky is
our church, and is this number moving up or down?
We look at the number of visitors and it looks like this:
No big change in the number of visitors. When we look at the
number of visitors joining as a percentage of number who visit, we
find a problem:
The Velcro Factor is way down. That is our problem. We don't need
to work on getting more visitors; we need to work on getting the
visitors to stick around.
In most cases, the problem is with the Velcro Factor, not the
Magnet Factor. Most churches have plenty of visitors; the problem
is, the visitors don't stick around.
But, this does vary from church to church and it is important
that we know. The strategies for fixing the Velcro Factor are
completely different than those for fixing the Magnet Factor. If we
don't have enough Visitors we might do some advertising, hold a
friend day, do a series of sermons on evangelism, or host some
If the problem is the Velcro Factor, we might look at some
different things. We would look first at the quality of our worship
services. Then, we would get systematic and consistent about
inviting every member and every prospect to every fellowship every
month. My experience has been corroborated by the stories of many
others--about 90% of the people we get into our homes and feed our
coffee cake to join the church. Again, it is a good idea to track
this--actually measure how many visitors we invite and how often
What does the Bible say?
This all may sound a little too business like for some. You might
be wondering, "What does the Bible say?" Here are a couple of
- Be sure you know the condition of your flocks,
give careful attention to your herds; Proverbs 27:23 [NIV]
- Any enterprise is built by wise planning, becomes strong
through common sense, and profits wonderfully by keeping abreast
of the facts. Proverbs 24:3 [Living]
Jesus taught this concept in the parable of the four soils. The
idea is you have to distribute a lot more seed than you expect to
come to harvest. Some will be lost to the hard soil, some will be lost
to the weeds, some will be lost to the birds. Only a small amount
will make it to the harvest.
Does anyone famous think this way?
This is roughly the concept taught by Rick Warren in the Purpose
Driven Church. Rick Warren's funnel looks like this:
The idea is move people through the funnel to become fully
devoted followers of Christ.
Need some help?
If you need some help figuring all this out, you might consider
our Coaching and Consulting Process. See
The most important things
My dad taught me an important principle: the most important
things are the things you can't measure. You can measure how many
attended, how many came forward, how much they gave and so forth.
What you can't measure is whether they love the Lord their God with
all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. Those are the most
Martha could count how many muffins she baked in the kitchen. No
one could measure Mary's love for Christ in the den.