“So how do we do it?” I gave a few reasons why SOME Free Will Baptist churches cannot grow in the previous blog. To keep from being characterized as a “negative-ninny,” here are a few things to remember about church growth:
1. This isn’t about you. Paul explained this principle to the Corinthians, when he said, “I planted, Apollos watered, but GOD giveth the increase.” While trials and difficulties certainly threaten our progress, ego and success are the greatest dangers we face. Stop taking credit for what God has allowed you to do. You are working in HIS vineyard. Just because you have learned a few techniques (from others, I might add) that have afforded you more opportunities than others, doesn’t mean that you are somehow “the cause” of growth. Quit focusing on promoting yourself. It isn’t attractive.
2. God blesses the things that honor Him. Can we all agree that growth-by-goldfish-swallowing isn't Biblical? I mean, come on?? What are some of the things God blesses? He blesses humility. He blesses obedience. He blesses unity. He blesses prayer. He blesses Biblical preaching. He blesses our love for Him and each other. AND He blesses a church focused on fulfilling the Great Commission.
3. Think critically. There IS a difference between being critical and thinking critically. Study your church. Go deep into the records (if they have any). Chart and identify patterns in attendance. Observe the seasons of success they’ve enjoyed and figure out why they are where they are now. From the street to the pew, think about everything your church does - from how your facilities look, to how visitors are treated. Think about your nursery and staff; even think about your bathrooms. Why DOES your church do the things it does? If your church sings “happy birthday” to members or takes up an offering for the orphanage, look at everything you do through the lens of a guest. Some of the things your church does you need to STOP doing. Pray for grace and wisdom about those things. Others you need to improve. Set goals for your church and for yourself - “We have 20 things we need to do, but we can only reasonably do 3 right now.” Don’t send the message that you don’t like your church. Help them see that your motive is love.
4. Shorten your sermons. People have been conditioned by modern media to listen in 20 to 25 minute segments. Saying less has more power. Example? If you walk into a crowded theater and shout “FIRE!” you will get an immediate response! But if you share a 3,000 word, finely constructed message on the dangers of fire, you will be shouted down. Yes, a ridiculous analogy, but you get the point. Learn to say what needs to be said with less words. This will discipline you to weed out unnecessary material that detracts from the message. You will see better results because people will stay with you (instead of mentally checking out). Have a point to your sermons. Your point shouldn’t be sharing information - but transformation. Your people should leave your services saying “I get it! I know what God wants me to do…”
Next time I will share a couple of tips for starting a visitation ministry and how to go about training workers and acquiring contacts…