Almost every day church leaders ask me what they can do to help their churches grow. Some are church planters who have been able to gather 75 people, but have not yet reached sustainability and others are existing church pastors who want to be more effective in impacting the people of their cities.
Church growth is a complicated and multi-faceted issue that I could (and will) write more extensively on. But there are several simple steps that a church plant or existing church can take to reach more people. These steps are not comprehensive or exhaustive. Nor do you completely control growth in your church. But committing to all five of these strategies will put you on the path to having a greater presence in your community. With these five strategies, I make the following assumptions:
- We are not looking to grow at all costs
- The gospel is often offensive
- Numerical growth does not necessarily indicate spiritual success
- Your motive in growing is to reach more people with the gospel
5 Strategies to Help your Church Grow
1. Clearly Identify your Target Area
Do you have a crystal clear understanding of the geographical area that your church is focused on? Far too many churches think they are regional churches. Unless your church is a mega-church, you will likely not see success attempting to be a regional church. Choose a small area and target that area. The size of the area will depend on your context. If you are in a dense urban context, your target area will be geographically small. If you are in a rural town of 20,000, your target may be the whole town. Smaller is better. A target area of 200,000 people is too big for most churches. Better to be a big fish in a small pond that an invisible fish in a massive ocean. Better to have everyone in a small area know that you are there than to have few people across a wide area know that you exist.
2. Research your Target Area
Now that you have defined your target area geographically learn everything you can about the people in your context. In your target area:
How many people are there?
- How many of these people have any vital church connection?
- How many churches are there?
- What are the demographics?
- What is the culture like?
- What do people value?
- What are their needs?
- What can you do to serve them?
- Where do people spend their time?
- How do people spend their weekends?
Knowing the answers to these kinds of questions will help you to be intentional about reaching the people in your target area.
3. Personally Brainstorm 20 Ways to Reach your Target Area
Brainstorming is an excellent but often forgotten exercise. Here is how it works. Sit down and write 20 strategies for what you can do to reach people in your target area. Write down every idea you can think of – even the bad ones. Brainstorming is about quantity not quality. If you are the primary leader, do this exercise yourself first. Don’t stop until you have at least 20 ideas written down.
4. Involve a Larger group in the Conversation
You can’t create church growth by yourself. As a church planter, you are the lead missiologist of a band of missionaries. If you are a church planter with 75 people who see you as their pastor, love what you do for them, love what they have, and don’t see themselves as part of a missional band, you need to address this seriously. A church plant with 75 people should be a group of people who see the goal as beginning a new missional work. You have not yet arrived. Start this conversation by getting together 10-15 people. Brainstorm with a white board. (The same thing that you did in step three) Discuss the need to own this as a group. Then broaden the conversation to more people. One word of caution here: Don’t get your people together and chastise them for not sharing the gospel with 50 people every week. Be patient with them. Teach them to live on mission as a gospel community.
5. Choose 3-4 Strategies and get Started
Now that you have several options for what you will do to reach your target area, choose a couple and get started. Do everything you can to make sure that everyone in your target area knows that you exist and are looking to serve them. How will you serve your target area? How will we let every person in our target area know that we exist?
I know of very few churches who have lived out these 5 steps. But picture it.
- You have a clearly defined target area
- You know exactly who is in that target area
- You have a strategy for reaching your target area
- Everyone in your target area knows that you exist and are there to serve them
You might be surprised the impact that God allows you to have.
If you found this post helpful consider sharing below!