If you’re like me, you’ve read plenty of books and opinions about church growth. People tell you everything from how many songs to have in the service to what types of doughnuts to serve. But what works for one pastor doesn’t always work for everyone, so I’d like to share some thoughts on five simple factors of church growth that are rooted in Scripture and applicable to every church—large or small, rural or urban, new or old.
The parable of the talents, as recorded in Matthew 25, reveals to us that while God has given each of us varying gifts, every gift comes from God.
God has gifted some people in unusual ways. They have the extraordinary ability to lead others, write books, provide in-depth counseling, prepare sermons, host leadership seminars, feed the homeless, and code a website—all while somehow making their wives and children feel loved and cherished. While the rest of us are doing good just to get home in time for dinner! So here are some ways to sharpen our gifts:
- Find trustworthy mentors that can evaluate your gifts.
- Surround yourself with good leaders who are gifted in areas you are not.
- Develop your gifts by faithfully using them, continuing in education, and investing in others.
The gospel works everywhere, but your church growth can be affected positively and negatively by your local culture. Here are some ideas to evaluate your area and tailor your plan:
- Spend time with people, so you understand the makeup of your community.
- Ask people how they perceive your church, and work to expand the positives and overcome the negatives.
Are you clearly communicating your church’s vision to your congregation? Does your church inspire a feeling of fellowship that draws others? Your church is constantly sending a message about these things, so evaluate them to make sure you’re saying something positive:
- Are your nurseries and restrooms clean?
- Do you offer coffee/refreshments during Sunday school?
- Is the atmosphere of your service friendly?
- Is there an open spirit?
- Is the material and length of your sermons appropriate for your audience?
Here’s a simple truth: if you want your church to grow, you have to work. It seems to me like there is a lack of robust evangelism in most churches. There are certainly opportunities to cross over into unhealthy expectations, but we should always be diligent to fulfill the Great Commission.
This is the ultimate goal, and it is God’s full expectation for man. And here’s how we can stay faithful:
- Diligently preach the Word of God.
- Compassionately minister to people.
- Lovingly build relationships with others.
“Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.”—Corinthians 4:2