COVID-19 and the year 2020 changed everything, especially what is involved in growing a church. As an employee of INJOY Stewardship Solutions, an organization who helps churches with capital campaigns and expanding their cultures of generosity, I have a unique job in that I only talk with growing churches. Churches who are plateaued or declining do not have a need for our services. Therefore, my conversations consists of a distinct audience.
I will have approximately 100+ individual calls each month with the pastors, executive pastors, administrators, or volunteer leaders discussing their resource challenges and expansion opportunities. For my own insight, I always make it a point in each conversation to ask, “I know it’s the goodness of God, but in a world where basically nine-out-of-ten churches are plateaued or declining, what are you doing to cause the growth.”
As a result of thousands of conversations the last couple of years, the following are 10 traits of post-pandemic churches with growing in-person attendance I have gleaned from these incredible leaders. These are observations and the accumulation of significant amounts of information.
1. Post-Pandemic Churches With Growing In-Person Attendance Are Led By Spiritually Growing Pastors
Does the Attractional Model still work since COVID? Yes and No. No in that big productions, light shows, hazers, great bands, opulence, and all the bells and whistles no longer are keys to being a growing church. COVID stripped away all non-essentials. Glitz and glamour no longer satisfy. People want to know what is real. They have lost loved ones, careers, income, stability, and hope. Their world was shaken to the core. They need something of essence which cannot be shaken.
But the Attractional Model still works when those in attendance look at the preacher and say, “That man has spent time with God and he can tell me what God says about the issues of my life.” People are being attracted in large numbers to an authentic Man of God who has spent time with Him and speaks on His behalf.
This reveals a consistent theme throughout this list: You still must deliver ministry with excellence but who you are is more important than what you do which leads to the following point.
2. Post-Pandemic Churches With Growing In-Person Attendance Are Led By Pastors Who Have Their Own Personal Tent Of Meeting
Pastors of post-pandemic churches are not preaching someone else’s material or recycling old messages. The world is different and a fresh word from God is required. In fact, it always has been but is just more obvious today.
Exodus 33:7-11 says,
Now Moses used to take the tent and pitch it outside the camp, far off from the camp, and he called it the tent of meeting. And everyone who sought the Lord would go out to the tent of meeting, which was outside the camp. Whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people would rise up, and each would stand at his tent door, and watch Moses until he had gone into the tent. When Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent, and the Lord would speak with Moses. And when all the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance of the tent, all the people would rise up and worship, each at his tent door. Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.
Here’s the picture: Moses would separate from the crowd and go spend personal time with God. This is a modern-day pastor’s personal worship, prayer, and Bible-study time. God would speak directly to him as a friend talks to a friend. The people would get so excited that they would collectively worship waiting for Moses to return with the message of what God said about the issues of their lives (think Sunday sermon).
In today’s growing churches, people are excited and collectively line up to hear a pastor who has spent time with God and then delivers a fresh message from Him about the issues of their lives.
3. Post-Pandemic Churches With Growing In-Person Attendance Have Staff Who Are Hired For Calling More Than Skill
Just because you can play an instrument and/or sing does not mean you should be a post-pandemic worship leader. Just because you have great organizational, speaking, and leadership skills does not mean you should be a post-pandemic campus pastor. Just because you have a business background doesn’t mean you should be a post-pandemic executive pastor or administrator.