Health and Growth

The Dos and Don'ts of Growing Your Small Church

Use these neglected strategies to catalyze growth in church visitors, members, engagement, and giving.

The Dos and Don'ts of Growing Your Small Church

Dean Sweetman

Let's talk about small churches and why they should grow and why pastors and leaders of small churches should think about growth and why that's healthy.

One of the challenges of growing a church or a business (or anything else for that matter) is that there are a lot of forces that are external that prevent growth, and there are plenty of forces that are internal that prevent growth. I can't always control the external forces that stop things from growing. If I'm planting a certain tree, I can't grow anything—everything I plant dies—but if I'm trying to grow a fruit plant, some kind of fruit tree, and the soil is wrong, the rainfall is wrong, it's just not going to work, those are external forces. I can't control those. I have to go and find another place to plant my treeIn the world of growing church, there are things that are going to work against you that you cannot control. I'm not going to worry about those things. I'm not going to get stressed by that. I'm not going to beat myself up with those. I'm going to focus on what I can control, not what things are around me that I can't control.

What can I control when it comes to growing my church? Overall, I find that people go to work, they're juggling family, they're paying their bills, and they get to church on Sunday and the last thing they need is to hear something that is not encouraging. People do it, though. 

1. Make your preaching positive

A high percentage of people are paycheck to paycheck, they have pressure at work, pressure at home, pressure from kids, all the things that are going on in their life—make church a safe haven for people to come.

You can teach the Bible in context to be able to encourage people so when they go out the door. They leave your church feeling uplifted and positive, thinking to themselves: “I'm going to suit up and get my armor on and go and tackle life for another week.

I'm going to come back next Sunday because what I got this Sunday really, really helped me.” Make sure that the message that you're preaching is always uplifting—adapt it for the here, now, and real. Make your messages speak to the issues that people are actually going through and facing in their life and you'll find they want to come back for more.

2. Make worship a powerful experience

Worship is extremely powerful. There are certain components in a church service, classic church service, we all have, we're all from different denominations or we grew up with different styles, but there are some key things that should be in every church service.

One of those key things is the moment of contemplation, worship, looking to God, creating those beautiful worship experiences in the life of your church. Preaching and teaching of messages that are relevant to people's lives coming out into a safe harbor where the storms of life are raging for six and a half days a week and coming into the house of God where they can feel that presence of God, sense the Holy spirit—it’s extremely powerful. 

Those are the things that people remember. My goal is that when people would come to church, they feel refreshed, I want them to feel challenged. I want them to leave thinking: "Man, I can get after another week. I'm a business owner. I'm going to go after it. If I've got a great job, I'm going to serve." All of those things make for an environment where people want to return.

3. Address the loneliness in your community

Loneliness in your community is probably the number one thing that people will tell you in their lives is the biggest deficiency, married or single. 

Can the church bring answers to the questions that are ailing our society? We see everything that goes on in our society as a result of breakdown in the family, breakdown in family values, and breakdown in biblical values in general. A lot of what's going on is leading people to isolate. The church is the place where people can find meaningful and genuine relationships is the church that's going to grow.

One of the best ways to do this is to avoid cliques and inside baseball at all costs. The way you speak, who you speak to, and the way you train your team members to not talk only to themselves is critical. They have all the rest of the week to hang out. Sunday is all about those visitors, those new people that are coming, going out for lunch with your team, asking: “Why would you want to do that on a Sunday?” You should be taking the three people that visited your church out for lunch. Being that place where people feel welcome and they can find that place of refuge and make a friend, that's going to grow your church.

Show Notes

Today on Modern Church Leader, our CEO Dean Sweetman explains the often neglected strategies that small churches can use to catalyze growth in church visitors, members, engagement, and giving.

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The Dos and Don'ts of Growing Your Small Church