Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Growth Strategies for Medium-Sized Churches

We cannot cause growth; we can only create a climate in which growth can take place.  Whether it’s farming, raising children, or leading a church, ultimately only God causes growth.  Our responsibility is to do the plowing, planting, watering, fertilizing, weeding, and hoeing.  Which is essentially what Paul meant when he said, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase” (I Corinthians 3:6).  That balances very well with Jesus’ words, “The harvest is great but the laborers are few.  Ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest field” (Luke 10:2).

As church leaders we must do everything we can and God will do the things we can’t.

Here are six growth strategies for medium-sized churches.  To say it another way, here are six ways to plant and water:

1.  Develop a distinct identity.  Studies show that healthy churches of this size have at least one ministry for which they are well known in the community.  It might be an excellent children’s ministry, vibrant worship services, great preaching, or caring for its seniors.  Once a church identifies the ministry or ministries for which it is known in the community, it should begin to highlight that ministry intentionally both within and without.  The increased name recognition and visibility will attract even more people to the medium church.  In other words, a church should build in its strengths, not its weaknesses. 

QUESTION:  What are we most known for at PCC?  APPLICATION:  Let’s deliberately highlight and promote those features inside and outside the church.  HOW do we do that?

2.  Add additional staff.  A failure to add additional staff and thus expect the pastor to supervise the entire church and be the primary caregiver for everyone will result in plateau or decline. To keep growing, a medium-sized church (one that is in the 400-500 range) should keep adding pastoral staff at approximately 1 staff member to every 100-125 members (or attenders).  Following a hiring pattern like this throughout the life of the church will ensure that the ministry has an excellent chance of expansion while keeping up with internal demands.

Furthermore, support staff is an additional need in a (growing) medium-sized church.  The value of secretaries, maintenance workers, janitors, interns, and various assistants cannot be underestimated.  Research reveals that a church needs to have a minimum of one support person for every two pastoral staff.  Growing churches will actually have a one-to-one ratio of support staff to pastoral staff, especially if all support staff, such as janitors, are included in the count.

QUESTIONS:  Who is the next person to be added to our pastoral staff?  What role/position is most needed to fill?  Do we add staff to grow, or do we grow before we add staff?  When is the best time to add support staff (the positons mentioned above)?  Where will the funding come from?

3.  Use the facilities multiple times.  Medium-sized churches eventually discover that they are running out of space.  One obvious answer is to build a new facility.  However, this choice is expensive and leads to mortgage payments which may strangle the church budget.  A better answer for most medium churches is to use their facilities multiple times.  Multiple worship services, new classes, and new ministries allow a church to break free from a plateau, reach new people, increase income without increasing mortgage expenses, boost overall attendance, and involve more people.

QUESTION:   How do we optimize the usage of our building?  We can't say yest to everyone, so what is the criteria for saying yes to some and no to others? 

4.  Create Multiple Congregations.   Smaller churches feel like one big family, and that’s because they are.  There is one congregation where almost everyone knows everyone else.  In order to grow, a church must develop multiple congregations within the congregation and develop cells inside of them, with each group and cell having its own pastor/shepherd.  That means avoiding “single-cell” model at all costs.  This is a huge issue and I will write about it soon in detail.  But for now...

QUESTION:  How do you feel about growing larger and smaller at the same time;  that is, growing larger in the weekend services but smaller through multiple affinity groups, cells, and having lay pastors as shepherds of your group? 

5.  Write a long-range plan.  Plans give a church direction and motivate members with a sense of purpose.  The planning process does not need to be complicated but it should take into account the needs of the congregation, the opportunities for reaching those far from God, the resources available to fulfill the plan, and an outline of the steps to get started.

QUESTIONS: What are the most pressing needs of our congregation?  How can we best reach those who are far from God?  How do we overcome limited financial recourses to meet these needs?

6.  Improve the quality of ministry.  It’s no secret that people today have higher expectations for their church than ever before.  As a rule, a church’s ministries need to be a notch above what people expect.  For instance, parents do not want the child care at their church to be as good as what they use during the week – they want it to be better.  Those who drive around with super sound systems in their car will expect the church’s sound system to be excellent.  Etc.  Thus is it essential to upgrade the overall service level of the church.

QUESTION:  What areas of PCC's minstries do you think need the most improvment?  What are you going to do about it?

No comments: