Church leaders who are wanting to make a difference in their communities are always studying what is happening at prevailing churches. I’m sure you’ve taken time to learn from the church across town that is trying some new stuff and seeing what you can apply to your church. At unSeminary, a huge part of the reason we host the podcast every week is to expose you to church leaders from growing churches.
In fact, we’ve focused on the fastest growing churches in the country because we want your church to grow more. Ninety-four percent of the churches in the country are losing ground against the growth of the communities they serve. [ref] We’ve taken a keen interest in the 6 percent of churches that are bucking this trend and we spend a lot of time and energy talking with you about what they do because we want all of our churches to learn from them.
Over the last 10 years, I’ve noticed a subtle trend in the fastest growing churches in the country. These churches mobilize their people to get out of their seats and serve on the streets of the community. Prevailing churches take the mass engagement of people toward acts of service in their community very seriously. More than just simply “social justice,” these initiatives are getting high percentages of people directly involved in making a difference.
Rather than just a fringe dynamic in a few churches, you can see this trend in all kinds of churches that are making a huge difference. In fact, recently I just flipped through a list of the fastest growing churches in the country and did a quick dive onto their websites to see if I could find this trend, and sure enough, it just kept coming up time and again; below are some examples of what I found:
Examples of Fast Growing Churches Employing Mass Community Service Experiences
Crossroads Church in Cincinnati hosts a large-scale Thanksgiving Food Drive. Just last year, they brought in enough food for over 60,000 Thanksgiving dinners. They’ve also taken on the churchwide responsibility of sponsoring over 6,000 children in a developing country. This church has been declared to be the fastest-growing church in America for two years in a row by Outreach Magazine, which shouldn’t come as a surprise when you see a church doing so many good things in the community.
Red Rocks Church in Littleton, Colorado, runs an event called Hope for the Holidays, which is essentially a gift drive and wrapping event. The church and the community wrap up and deliver thousands of gifts every year to various social service agencies in the community. The church also runs a prison ministry known as God Behind Bars in which the men of the church bring the hope of Jesus to the prisoners.
The Traders Point Church in Indianapolis, Indiana, runs a special needs prom where they annually help young adults who could never go to a prom to experience one. This particular prom requires three to four volunteers for every guest that comes; it literally requires more volunteers than the number of guests in order to run smoothly. That night, you get an opportunity to see the last become the first. (Plus, it looks like so much fun…when Jesus is around there always seems to be a party close by!)
The Eastside Church in Anaheim, California, is one of the fastest growing churches in the country and has even won that title for multiple years in a row. Compassion is listed as the top priority and concern on this church’s website. It’s right up there with messages and giving. In fact, this church has done so much community outreach that a documentary called Bravely Forward is now being put together to tell the story of all the various things that this church has accomplished.
The Next Level Church has locations all across New England; in a part of a world where frankly the church just doesn’t exactly grow, this church is exploding and launching new campuses all the time. They did a gas buy-down event where they offered gas for 80 percent of the normal price at a time when the price of gas was very high. Their lead pastor, Josh Gagnon, said, “God said it’s better to give than it is to receive,” and they realized how important something like gas can be; so, when the price was high, the church mobilized its people and its financial resources to make a difference in such a practical way.