After 35+ years of active involvement in church growth ministries, I am confident that most churches can double in attendance and membership in five years or less with a modest amount of effort. The basics for accomplishing this are as follows:
You cannot grow by your own efforts alone. Growth will come by sowing much seed, harvesting that seed, and retaining your harvest. To do this effectively requires the active involvement of your church members and leaders. So you need to organize your members and then manage that organization. Leaders need well-written job descriptions. Managing those leaders requires you to meet with them as a team regularly for vision casting (annual planning retreat), goal setting (departmental one-year plans), plan implementation (monthly leadership meeting) and assignment accountability (regular tag-in’s).
If your goal is to double in five years, this goal needs to be broken into annual goals for attendance, membership and conversions. Without clear goals in each area you have no way to evaluate your progress and make needed adjustments. Goals should also be set each year for key evangelism ministries such as first-time visitors, home Bible studies, witnessing contacts, and Sunday school.
Growing churches have a high percentage of active member involvement (usually over 80%). At least annually members should be given the opportunity to commit to involvement in areas of ministry with a strong emphasis upon outreach-oriented ministries. You should have few “pew-sitters.”
Growing churches should have several key evangelism ministries that are aggressively promoted. The most important is a good visitor follow-up ministry. Second should be a strong home Bible study ministry. Person witnessing should be promoted and encouraged with several effective programs. Also, your Sunday school should be a primary method of outreach and evangelism with special attendance times (Easter, Pentecost Sunday, Fall Friend Day and Christmas) and an active bus or van ministry.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, a church needs a comprehensive new convert care ministry to retain your harvest. This requires an emphasis upon instruction, fellowship and involvement. An individual should be appointed over this ministry to ensure no convert is overlooked. Growing churches usually see 60% convert retention in a calendar year.
For detailed instructions on everything mentioned in this column, order the Total Church Growth package: call 1-800-800-0247.