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:

    1. Get a listing
  • Develop a brochure
  • Place ads
  • Receive calls/ send brochures
  • Call back/ assess interest/ answer questions
  • Negotiate an offer
  • Sign a contract
  • Due diligence
  • Close sale
  • We get paid

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:

    1. Pre-evangelism events
  • Visitors
  • Repeat visitors
  • People join
  • People get involved
  • People become disciples
  • The process repeats

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  events)
  • 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.

Bottom Line

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  pre-evangelism events.

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  they respond.

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  verses:

  •  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:

    1. Community
  • Crowd
  • Congregation
  • Committed
  • Core

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  important things.

Martha could count how many muffins she baked in the kitchen. No  one could measure Mary's love for Christ in the den.