At a graduation party yesterday, a friend of mine and I found a quiet corner table to talk. He told me the story of a recent meeting with a church leadership team. Even though he did not use these words, he discussed their lack of passion, energy and vision. The church, while in a rapidly growing area, had not experienced numerical growth in decades. It appeared the pastor was content with just getting in another 10 years and retiring. He then asked, “What would you tell them?”
Sadly, this is not an unusual situation. I encounter similar church environments on a daily basis. Without any sense of context, here is what I would say to such a church leadership team:
We have made church growth too complicated. Yes, it is important we have demographic studies, great systems, quality services, excellent children and youth ministries, diversity, inspired preaching, and community outreach. If some of these items seem out of reach for whatever reason, any pastor or church leadership team can take these 3 Simple Steps to Increase Attendance:
- Growing Churches Are Led by Spiritually Growing Leaders – You can’t take people where you have not been. I ask church leadership teams, “How are you growing in your relationship with Jesus? Tell me about a fresh word you have gotten from Him recently. What are your quiet times like? Describe for me something God showed you in His Word in the last week. What have you been convicted about recently? Is there unrepentant sin in your life? Tell me about something breaking your heart which is also breaking the heart of God. What did you do with these new insights?” If a leader is growing spiritually, I then get to ask my final question in this area, “When is the last time you personally shared your faith with a lost person outside of your pulpit ministry?” Spiritually growing leaders are actively sharing their faith.
- Growing Churches Are Led by Personally Growing Leaders – Your personal leadership growth is your responsibility. What books are you currently reading? What podcasts are you currently listening to? What conferences are you attending? What people are you meeting with? What blogs are you reading? What questions are you asking? Forrest Gump famously said, “Been there. Done that.” That is a cute Hollywood statement. It is a terrible leadership statement. Yes, growing leaders have been there and done that. But they are more focused on going there and doing that. Personally growing leaders focus on taking new ground by advancing the mission and vision of their churches.
- Growing Church Are Led by Leaders Who Invite Unchurched Friends to Church – Once again, do not make this too complicated. Churches grow from an increased number of visitors. A person is most likely to visit your church when invited by a friend. I look at each person around the leadership table and ask, “When is the last time you brought an unchurched friend to church?” So goes the leader, so goes the church. When the leadership are inviting friends to church, the congregation will do likewise and your church will grow.
For a church to grow, it is important to have the systems and all the programmatic functions in place. If not, you will experience expansion and contraction.
But if you really want your church to grow, do not make it so difficult. Be a group of growing leaders, spiritually and personally, who invites their unchurched friends to church.
It is not that complicated.
This article originally appeared here.