Last Update 2nd October, 2016.
People will pull you in this direction and that. I mean, what should your focus be?
Taking care of your existing congregation?
Actively reaching out to get new members?
Do you ever have those days where nothing on you ‘to do’ list gets done because the day just happened?
Do you remember those old Stretch Armstrong toys? I think it’s easy to feel like that sometimes.
Being busy doing everything is a one-way street to pastoral burn-out.
It’s not good for you and it’s not for your church… (I’m guessing you knew that already, it’s just good to be reminded.)
If you really want to build a strong, healthy and growing church then as a pastor you need to clarify in your own mind what your main priorities are.
You can’t do everything.
Knowing what your main objectives are frees you up to concentrate on what’s important in your ministry.
Getting Your Church ‘Unstuck’
In growing a strong church, I think it’s more beneficial to think about church growth in terms of getting ‘unstuck’, instead of thinking you just need more people.
Getting unstuck is the answer, which means there will be certain things that need to change.
As a pastor you’ll find more solutions to what holds your back if you think in terms of getting unstuck, instead of just getting bigger.
The Great Commission challenge is not about growing bigger congregation, but growing more spiritually significant people.
In the US, 80% of churches have less than 200 attending members. Without a major shift in focus starting from the senior pastor down, the chances are, these churches will only ever see slight growth (if any).
They’re just stuck…
We’ve all been stuck at some point.
Like that time our tyres have spun uselessly in the wet mud, or the time that tricky math problem stood strong and resilient despite our best efforts – until we tried a different approach, came at it from a different angle and somehow, we got unstuck.
Have you noticed we only learn when things don’t go our way?
Getting stuck forces us to adapt our approach to life.
In fact, one theory of learning says the brain is wired to solve predicaments, and true learning only happens when the mind tries to figure something out.
God designed us to keep at it; to ask, seek and knock.
But Doesn’t God Grow His Church?
A healthy way to think about church growth is to leave to God the things only he can do (the stuff we pray about), and accept the responsibility he has entrusted to us to do something about.
God gave me the teeth He gave me, but I brush them.
This being said, now let’s take a look at what a pastor can focus on to ‘unstick’ his church growth:
What Areas Should You Focus On?
Just as most computer glitches can be traced to a small number of common problems, as a pastor you only need to focus 95% of your time on these few church growth factors to be way more effective.
Here are the big 5:
1. Preaching Better Sermons
Investing time into yourself as a preacher is not only your responsibility as a teacher of God’s Word, but your church will benefit greatly also as research shows great preaching grows churches.
As well as your personal devotional times, put time aside during the week to study God’s Word with a heart that is asking Him what He wants you to say to the church at this time.
Why not develop monthly themes for the next 3 months?
Take the stress out of last minute preparation by planning ahead of time.
Invest time and take an online preaching course to help you preach better sermons.
Equip your congregation with practical, life-applicable teaching that will get them motivated enough with to study and search the Scriptures for themselves.
A church full of people, full of the Word, makes for a very strong church indeed.
2. Getting More People Involved in the Work of the Ministry
The role of the pastor is not to do the work of the ministry; instead, it’s to equip your church members so that they can do it.
If your serving teams grow, your church will too.
Whether it’s your worship team, home groups, your welcoming teams or multimedia guys – these rely on the pastor’s leadership to gain, train and retain volunteers to serve in these areas.
Most pastors struggle with knowing how to get people excited and engaged in the life of the church. They fail to inspire members to be willing to step up and take that extra responsibility.
Take a look at ‘How To Recruit More Church Volunteers‘ to see if it can help you learn and grow in this area.
3. Getting Your Church Outward Focused
Take this test to measure how outward focused you church is right now.
There needs to be emphasis placed on personal friendship evangelism from the front, starting with you.
Why not preach for a month on how to talk to your friends about Jesus?
Give examples in your sermons about the conversation you’ve had with non-believers during the week. Show your people how they can be a witness to their friends and family.
“Any church not seriously involved in the Great Commission has forfeited its biblical right to exist.” [Tweet this]
4. Automate Your Giving
According to a recent Church Giving Survey of over 1,000 churches, it was found that the number one indicator of churches whose income surpassed their ministry expenses emphasised automated giving.
It’s not enough just to offer it, you need to emphasise it and create an intentional communication strategy that moves people to that option.
You’d be amazed at what happens to your church budget when you give people a new way of giving.
Giving people the option of setting up a monthly or weekly automatic bank transfer will do wonders for your church’s finances.
For more detail on this see: 5 Ways to Increase Giving and Grow Your Church Budget
I don’t mean to sound crude here but the more money you have, the more ministry you can do. If you can grow your church’s financial budget then you can grow your church’s ministry.
Finances and resources can make ministry happen.
5. Getting Your Church More Organised
Just think, if you have to do something more than once, create an effective and efficient system for it.
Just take a quick look at creation and you’ll see how our God is a God of systems; the solar system, the ecosystem, our skeletal and digestive systems, I could go on…
Life as we know it doesn’t ‘just happen’.
It’s all self-regulating, following a sequence of patterns and laws. Our God orders chaos and He’s very intentional about it.
Your church should have good systems, because, believe it or not, you can’t solve all of your problems by preaching. (I know we preachers thing we can sometimes!) but more often than not, the solution to the issue you’re having is due to a system problem, not a preaching problem.
You should have a system on following up with visitors, on raising up home group leaders, on setting up and clearing down on a Sunday and so on.
It’s full of practical resources to help you create healthy systems in your church and streamline your processes so that you can do more with less. Creating healthy systems facilities further growth.
My prayer is that as you make any of these 5 areas a priority, that your church will get unstuck and you’ll see it begin to flourish again.
I believe that by getting your pastoral priorities in the right order, you’ll free up yourself and break off any limits to growth.
Of course, if you have any questions or insight, please feel free to share them in the comments below.
What are the biggest areas you think you need to focus in your church? Is your church stuck? How have you got your church moving forward again?