I love hearing stories of hope.
Instead of waiting for the stories to come to me, I recently interviewed 19 pastors whose churches had moved from struggling to breakout. All of the pastors had been in the church at least four years, and all of them had reached points of frustration.
Then their churches began to reverse their decline and stagnation.
None of the pastors I interviewed were new at their churches. None of the churches had relocated in recent years. And none of the communities in which the churches were located had grown dramatically.
So what happened at these churches?
All of the pastors were careful to give glory to God. Most of them articulated that their stories were not ones of mere methodological devices.
But they did have six common themes worth noting.
1. They led the church to become highly intentional about starting new groups.
The fewest groups started by any one of the churches were four in a one-year period.
These churches were serious about new groups, and most of them saw that, at least from a human perspective, as the primary source of turnaround growth.
2. They led the church to a culture of inviting people.
These pastors expressed amazement at how many people started coming to their churches simply because they were invited.
To be clear, this type of invitation was personal, from a member to someone else. It was not some type of major commercial marketing initiative.
Some of the churches had a big event, “invite-a-friend day,” to kick off this new culture of inviting.
3. They began new member classes.
These classes set the tone for new members. They established the expectations for new members.