17 Important Keys How To Grow A Small Church
What are the keys in growing a healthy church? Have you ever thought about why some congregations are not growing? Why do most fellowships stay small? This question is nothing new. In fact, there are some leaders today who believe that church decline is on the move. Dr. Thom Rainer says, “The institutional church stubbornly resists formal closing. Even if only six or seven people attend each week, those few fight for the survival of their church. Those who were attending these very small churches are either moving to the “nones” category, or they are moving to larger churches. The primary stalwarts to keep the doors open are members of the builder generation, those born before 1946. As that generation decreases at an increasing rate, more churches will close. Any guess to the number of closings in 2013 is speculation on my part. I wouldn’t be surprised, however, if the numbers reach the 8,000 to 10,000 level.” (Thirteen Issues for Churches in 2013, by Thom Rainer)
The First 7 Keys
What is causing so many churches to decline and close their doors? Here are seven reasons why many fellowships are headed toward closing their doors.
- A majority of churches want to stay small. This fact is shown in how they conduct their ministry. There is no plan or design for growth, so the only other option is decline. There is no neutral grown in church growth. Either a congregation is growing or dying.
- Few congregations can keep their pastors for an extended period. Quick turnover of pastors and pastoral staff are fueling the decline of many congregations. A lacking of trust for pastoral leadership is also encouraging this type of behavior. Those churches that are growing and doing well are those churches that have an extended stay of their pastors.
- The above action leads many congregations to evolve into a fellowship that is ruled by a minority of church members. This behavior will destroy any church growth. When one or two people or families within a church dominate and rule the fellowship, church growth will not take place.
- The reason many churches are unable to grow and are in decline is due to a lack of a plan or strategy for the growth of the church. A church without a growth plan simply will not grow. It is like growing a plant with no water.
- Spiritual illness is another reason that is leading to the closing of churches. Simply stated, “They are sick.” An unhealthy fellowship cannot grow a healthy church.
- The physical plant of any church tells the world around them what is important or not important to them. Disrepair of its buildings and the neglect of its appearance will not draw anyone into the fellowship.
- Last, a declining church continues to die when there is no prayer taking place concerning the health of the church. No prayer leads to spiritual death.
Five Other Keys
If the above behavior is leading to the decline of small congregations what can take place to lead to the healthy growth of a fellowship? Here are five basic habits that can help any small church to grow in a healthy way.
- Have a target! Setting a growth target for your church is a sure-fire way to begin healthy growth.
- Encourage your fellowship to grow from “program focused” to “people focused”. Focus on inviting others into the ministry of your church in a personal way. One-on-one relating to others is a powerful tool. This also follows the example of Jesus in the recruiting of his disciples.
- Creating an environment of healthy hospitality will help grow any church.
- See your community as your mission field. This is following the example of Jesus as he gave advice to the early church in the book of Acts. They were to start their mission first in Jerusalem, their hometown.
- Pray, Pray, Pray!!! When the members and leadership of a church are praying together, health and growth are on the way.
Five More Keys
If any congregation is seeking to develop a healthy fellowship this will also call upon the ministry leaders (pastor, lay leadership, etc…) to engage in some basic practices for progressive development. What do the lead pastor and church leaders need to focus on?
- The proclamation of God’s Word must be at the top. The preaching of convincing soul-stirring sermons must be the center of worship services for any church that wishes to grow.
- Encourage and develop the skills of everyone within the fellowship. When people feel that their gifts are needed and are being used, this will destroy internal problems within the church.
- Allow those in the church that are sharing their gifts and talents some opportunities to share their ministry with others within the fellowship. Encouraging others to encourage others can be extremely powerful for any ministry expansion.
- Take every opportunity you have to publicly post positive newsletters and blogs.
- Pray specifically for the health and growth of your fellowship. Develop the Prayer Ministry of the fellowship to empower the ministry of the church.
What about your fellowship? Do you have any suggestions that are working to help your church grow in a healthy way?