Have you ever asked yourself, “How do I get my small church to grow?” This is the question we’re asking ourselves. A while ago we identified one thing we needed to work on.
Simply ask yourself this question: “Am I personally excited to invite people to our church gatherings?”
I think it’s the first thing to work on if we want our small church to grow.
Before I dive in let me give one caveat. There isn’t anything we can do to make a church grow. God does that. God draws people to himself. God changes people’s hearts. God convicts of sin and God brings us to repentance by his goodness.
But we can position our church for growth. That’s how Carey Nieuwhof says it and I think it’s a great phrase to use. We can also remove things that hinder growth.
So, back to the question. It’s not perfectly phrased theologically, but it’s how we would say it in normal conversation, “How do I get my small church to grow?”
It turns out that most small churches in America are asking themselves this question.
According to LifeWay Research, about six out of 10 churches in America are declining or plateaued in membership. Adding in other factors in addition to membership, they put the actual number at 70% of churches that are subtracting/declining or plateauing (← that’s the link to the actual LifeWay research).
In any case, we can agree that a majority of churches in America are either stalled or shrinking.
The church I work for and attend is one of many small churches in Muscatine, Iowa that is declining in membership.
We’re currently a tiny group averaging about 30 people (including kids) on Sundays. We don’t get very many visitors to our services. And, as is typical of a small church, we don’t do a lot of fancy programming.
How Do I Get My Small Church to Grow? The Crux of the Matter.
Here’s the thing:
- If the church doesn’t have visitors, the church won’t grow.
- The church won’t have many visitors unless people invite their friends, or neighbors, relatives, co-workers, etc.
- Our church won’t invite their friends unless they’re excited and proud of the church gatherings.
We have the occasional visitors, like any church, but not many.
So, during a leaders’ meeting one Saturday morning, we asked ourselves candidly:
“Am I personally excited about inviting someone to church?”
It turned out, the answer for several of us was, “No.”
That’s how we identified the first thing we needed to address if we were going to answer the question, “How do I get my small church to grow?”
Note: it’s not easy for me to talk about our faults like this, but I’m trying to be as candid as possible, for the sake of learning, and possibly helping someone along the way.
That day, as we candidly discussed it as church leaders, a few themes came out. Since then I’ve worked with this list and fleshed it out further.
By the way, I’m so blessed to have a group of church leaders who are willing to discuss these things!
I wrote three lists:
- Problems – things that made me uncomfortable and hindered me from inviting guests to church services
- Good things – stuff I liked about our church services and see as strengths to double down on
- Action items – a plan to change the things we needed to change
The goal is to remove hindrances that keep us from inviting people to church services and to make the services overall feel more hospitable and accessible to people who are on the fringes (i.e. not very familiar with church or the gospel).
This thought process was extremely helpful for me.
We have started to make some of these changes, and I have started to feel more free to invite people to our services.
We still have a long ways to go, but asking ourselves this question was a turning point in our thought process.
We’re making progress!