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My church growth challenge


I have spent the last 11 years teaching churches how to grow. Now that I am pastoring I am learning some things. I am learning it is more difficult than I thought it was. I actually knew this on one level. I knew I had been on the road too long because it was starting to look easy. Back in local church work again, I am reminded how difficult it is.

Not that we have not seen some progress. Attendance is up by about a third. We have baptized a few folks for the first time in years. I think most would agree the general morale and spirit of the church has improved. The music is a little better. I am working on my preaching.

Here is my challenge.

My background in church life was like this. We had a small core that came to everything and came every week–maybe 30%. Another 20% that came most of the time. Another 20% that came part of the time. Another 20% that came once in a while. About 10% first time or recent visitors. The idea was to get the 10% coming back and hopefully to join. We wanted to get those coming part of the time to come most of the time and so forth.

How did we move the outer circles toward the middle? If you have been paying attention you guessed hospitality. Bingo.

This church is different. We have about 40 folks that all come 85% of the time. When someone is not there, someone usually knows why–they are sick and out of town. We have had very few guests. Something like 75% of the ones who have visited are still with us. (All have not joined.) Problem is, 75% of very few is very few. That is my church growth challenge: how to attract visitors.

The research I have done on this indicates this is not usually the case. Most churches have plenty of visitors and most churches can grow by taking really good care of the visitors they have. The difference between growing churches and not growing is not so much about how many visitors they have as much as how many visitors they keep. However, my research also indicated that the number of visitors does vary widely. The previous church where I served on staff had plenty of visitors. We could grow by giving Friday nights to Jesus and inviting visitors to our house. This situation is different. I think one of the reasons God has me here is to get in touch with this problem and to discover ways of solving it. I’d like to ask for your help.

One thing I have learned so far is that special events can help. We did a Mother’s Day Photo Shoot last Mother’s Day that attracted some visitors. We have a had a movie night or two that had a few people in. We did a Trunk or Treat that went pretty well. My wife and the ladies of the church just put together a ladies retreat that went really well.

But, I am looking for ideas. Especially ideas about how a small church in an out of the way place with a limited budget can attract visitors. Please share your best ideas at this Facebook page.


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