Should we care about church growth? I think that if we are in leadership or simply a church member the answer to this question should be a resounding “YES”.
Having spent nearly 40 yrs as a church minister in some very different places, ranging from a small Gloucestershire village to the isolated isles of Shetland and a large city in the midlands and seeing remarkable growth, I feel I have learned a few things I would like to pass on. Of course Jesus is the one who builds His church, but He gives us the privilege of working with Him and seeing lives transformed by His grace, so here are a few tips that I have to offer after a few lessons learnt along the way;
Sanctified common sense is not as common as many believe! We should pray about everything of course but God has given us a brain and the ability to make wise decisions, so if you are stuck and don’t know what to do, get outside wise council and guard against things that jeopardise the ministry and testimony of His Church.
Don’t Be Distracted
We can easily be side-tracked, so stick to the main priorities. We should not major on the minors, and minor on the majors. Areas such as prayer, evangelism and discipleship are major teachings in the Scriptures, so make them priorities in your church. If you’re busy with lots of activity but are not seeing people come to faith, maybe it’s time you assessed whether your activities are a distraction?
Have a good welcome team on the church door and do your best to talk to people, this means the leadership team too! I’m not a fan of green rooms for the church leader. It’s surprising what barriers friendship crosses, and I have seen many come to Christ as a result of a simple hand of friendship and an invitation to lunch. Of course this doesn’t mean we compromise the message of the Gospel but we share in love the truth that there is room in the Fathers heart for everyone.
Keep Your Promises
When making promises try your best to fulfil what you say. This
is especially important for all in leadership, in this way people begin to
trust you and they will be more likely to follow and support the church.
However, don’t be too surprised that not everyone will catch the vision of the
church, in fact you should expect opposition!
Expect to See Miracles
Believe God that he will do what only God can do. Expect miracles, provision, healing and opportunities that all indicate that Jesus is building His church and that He is using ‘even us’ to bring light into the darkness.
We found a great resource at churchleaders.com written by Esther Laurie. It is all about great tools for outreach in local church. Take a look below.
1. One Table Café
Trinity Church in New Jersey was looking to create a new community initiative that would take “church” outside the church walls. They were inspired by Jon Bon Jovi’s pay-what-you-can community restaurant and opened one of their own. They wanted to reach out to their community and offer a meal that was delicious and dignified. Many of their customers are homeless, live in extreme poverty or are domestic violence victims. This initiative bridges the gap between people of diverse backgrounds. Those with college degrees and 401Ks and those without jobs or degrees can come dine together. Fourteen restaurants in the area partnered with Trinity to help with the monthly dinners.
2. Beacon of Hope
St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Arizona has a specific ministry to the hurting, which accomplishes its mission primarily on social media. It’s a Facebook group for those who are grieving. A couple lost their teenage son in a tragic car accident. They didn’t know where to turn or how to move through their deep grief, but they found solace with others who were walking through heartbreaking situations by reading and sharing posts on the Facebook page. The ministry offers counseling and weekly meetings, but the purpose of the Facebook page is to allow people to share their story through words, prayers, songs, or art and to feel connected to others who understand loss.
3. Connecting Faith and Life
The Boston church called The Intersection identified a need in the community for free accessible exercise and heart-healthy cooking classes. The predominantly African-American community is aware that heart disease is the leading cause of death for African-American women and that most families in the area can’t afford a gym membership. What started out as Zumba class and Bible study now makes up two-thirds of the church’s attendance.
4. Chain Reaction Ministries
When Reverend John Malget moved to Oklahoma City’s First Christian Church, he wanted to offer neighbours in need and homeless people a “hand up” not a “handout,” so a ministry equipping those in need with bikes to commute to work began. Since it’s start in 2013, there have been 1,400 donated bikes.
5. Mother and Child Resource Ministry
When founder Gail Short met a single mum at church who was in desperate need of the basics for her baby, this ministry was born. Blackhawk Church in Wisconsin has now given 3,500 boxes of baby cloths and supplies to single mums who are financially struggling. Short says, “Love is the language they need to hear right now.”
6. Ice Cream Truck for the Community
At Rock Family Church in Colorado, one of their highest values is reaching kids. And, what better way to welcome and attract kids than ice cream? Pastor Dean Hawk received the perfect donation of an old FedEx truck ,which was revamped into an ice cream truck for the community. When kids come for free ice cream, they are given an invitation to come to the children’s ministry program. Hawk says, “For parents, it’s the idea that when you show respect to my kids, you’ve won my heart as an adult.”
7. Random Acts of Kindness
Indiana Pastor Brett Wilson decided to challenge his congregation at Cross Lane Community Church by passing out church business cards with the church’s information and the inscription, “Something Extra to Show You God Loves You.” The idea was to hand these cards out to church members who then used their creativity and resources to bless others. Some snuck the business card and $20 bill at a gas station pump or left the church card with some gift cards in library books to surprise someone.
8. Lego Night
Pastor Melissa Pisco was inspired by her six-year-old son to host a Lego Night at Celebration United Methodist Church in Florida. They invited the community and were pleased when 25 church members and 50 people in the community joined their family-friendly game and movie night.
9. Kid’s Bike Event
Michigan gets pretty cold in the winters, so church member Kara Koster decided to give kids a fun and active outlet for their energy while staying warm inside the church. She connected her Moms in Tow business with a local bike shop and partnered with her church to host an event for kids to come, bring their bikes, and enjoy a bike course at the church, Harderwyk Christian Reformed Church.
10. Manicure Ministry
Church member Nancy Blake and 25 women from Great Bridge Baptist Church in Virginia visit their local assisted living center each week and give the senior ladies manicures. They also organize socials and fun events, but their biggest impact is in the attention, time, touch and listening ears they give the women.
11. Random Acts of Softness
Usually when you think of a quilting club, you picture cute grandmas happily sewing away. But at First United Methodist Church in Kansas, you’ll see a group of teenagers. One student, Braegan Zimmerman was inspired by the impact of a quilt ministry on a mission trip and decided to replicate it in her hometown. Braegan and 20 other students didn’t know much about quilting when they started, but they learned quickly. The next month they produced 20 quilts for children in need at a child advocacy center who had experienced great trauma. The quilts have been a huge comfort to them and they are making more quilts than ever.
12. Aviation Ministry for Teens
An adventure began in 2013 when Pastor Brian Hammond and a few friends dreamed up a way to combine their love of aviation with their heart for troubled teens in their city. After a year of planning, fundraising, and recruiting, they launched an aviation ministry through The Church at South Lake in Florida. The goal is to offer teens a two-year program in conjunction with the teen earning their pilot license. The teen receives holistic mentoring from school academics to job interviewing to budgeting to technical skills.