The only reason we want to know how to build a church congregation is because healthy, growing churches are the best vehicle to spread the gospel.
We only get into this because we’re passionate about making the name of Jesus known.
Either that or we’re crazy…
Seriously though, being a pastor is not the typical 9-5 job where you can sign out at the end of your shift…
It feels like there’s always so much going on, so many people pulling things out of you, so many different skills you need to build your church and take it forward.
It’s hard to discern where to start sometimes.
My purpose today is to give you some simple and practical and no-nonsense advice how to build a church congregation by giving you 7 key areas of focus you can concentrate your efforts on to build a strong, influential and growing church congregation.
I don’t claim to be an expert in these things but I’m growing and learning.
And I always want to be better, to learn more and do more.
I want to be able to say one day what Paul said in 1 Cor 3:10:
“According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it.”
You and I both know that building a church is more than just numbers of church attenders but it is an indicator to your church’s health.
And while there’s no single ‘silver bullet’ to making a church grow, my hope is that the following pointers, along with tools and resources specifically designed for church leaders like you, will help spur you on in your journey to building a strong church congregation.
If we can learn to become master church builders that means more strong churches.
More strong churches means more lives impacted by the gospel of Jesus Christ, it translates to more young people finding their destiny and life purpose in God.
So without further ado, let’s take a look together at 7 key church growth factors.
1. Have A Clear, Compelling Vision
“Vision is a mental picture of what could be, fueled by a passion that it should be.” [Tweet this]
What is the purpose of your church?
What problem is it that your church is called to solve?
Do you have a vivid mental picture of what your youth ministry could look like?
Your seniors ministry? Men’s ministry? Children’s ministry?
No matter where your starting point may be, your church will grow if you have a clear and concise vision.
It should be simple but compelling enough that your people can get excited by it.
It should be simple enough that everybody understands it and if you ask a random church member what it is, they’ll be able to tell you right off the bat.
And then, once you have a strong church vision – cast it constantly. Every chance you get – offering talks, preaching, newsletters – talk about it.
Write it on the walls of your church foyer. Have it as your desktop background…
Vision is like a holey bucket – it leaks, which is why we need to repeat it always until everybody knows it by heart and becomes a part of your church culture.
A compelling vision is key for building a strong church congregation because people will be more generous with their time, sacrifice more, work harder and give more if they’ve ‘got’ the vision and they see what the church should be and could be.
2. Figure Out Who You Want To Reach
The second church growth factor is figuring out who your target audience is.
What kind of people do you want to reach?
What kind of area are you in?
In the book, The Purpose Driven Church, Rick Warren goes into detail about how be planted the Saddleback Church in Orange County, California.
One of the first things he did was take a look a look at the area ad demographic of his church and then he built a church based on the needs of the people in his local community.
Look at the people you already have in your church.
Are the majority of them middle-aged professionals, working class young families, teens or wealthy pensioners? What are their interests and aspirations? What problems do they face and what issues are they struggling with?
Knowing who you’re targeting as a church means you can tailor your ministries in alignment with that purpose.
For example, if you’re aiming to reach young families then you know you need to focus on creating a thriving children’s ministry and building connections with the parents.
3. Get Your Church Outward-Focused
One of the best ways to build a church is by tailoring your Sunday morning services to the unchurched people you want to reach and helping to make church visitors feel welcome.
This takes a real shift in mindset – both your leadership team and church members need to become purely outward focused.
For your members, emphasis should be placed on personal friendship evangelism – by far the most effective way to grow your church.
Equip your people by showing them how they can share their personal testimony, train them on how to share the gospel with their friends and families in an approachable and easy way and show them the importance of creating a friendly church culture.
Why not preach for a month on how to talk to your friends about Jesus?
You could give examples of some of the conversations you’ve had with non-believers during the week.
As church leaders, ensure that your car park signage, greeting team, welcome packs (yes you should have them!), Sunday school program even down to the coffee making is done with your unchurched guests in mind.
Once your church is outward-focused you could even think about introducing a monthly ‘Invite a Friend To Church Sunday‘.
Set a date, encourage your people to invite their friends and families and be ready for them when they come.
“Any church not seriously involved in the Great Commission has forfeited its biblical right to exist.” [Tweet this]
4. Improve Your Preaching
Investing time into yourself as a preacher is one of the best ways to build a strong church.
Did you know that 90% of unchurched people choose a church based on the preaching?
There are lots of reasons why great preaching grows churches and research shows that spending time to improve your preaching is more effective than any promotion or advertising when it comes to building your church.
Preaching Rocket is a brilliant online community and step-by-step preaching course specifically designed to help preachers like you preach even better.
In it you’ll learn the systems, strategies and techniques that world-class preachers use to prepare, present and evaluate sermons.
As well as the training there is also the private community of like-minded pastors and preachers where you can ask questions and get answers, support and advice.
Here’s my full 3,832 Preaching Rocket review.
“When you grow as a preacher, your church grows too.” [Tweet this]
5. Get More People To Step And Serve
Knowing how to build a strong church means learning how to gain, train and retain volunteers. Building service teams is the only way to build anything strong and long-lasting.
Training and releasing people into areas of service in line with their God-given gifting and callings lifts creates the possibility to unlimited church growth.
The of a average church in the US and UK is 40-50 people mark. Interestingly, this is around the same number one person can lead.
If the pastor is not raising up and releasing coworkers for the work of building the church then his ministry will be limited to the national average.
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 – Gain > Train > Retain for more on this area.
6. Increase Your Giving
The sixth key church growth factor is increasing your church giving and having more money for ministry.
While sharing great tithe and offering messages definitely helps, according to a recent survey of over 1,000 churches, the 14% that exceeded their church budget were the ones who provide automated ways of giving.
As we leave a “cash society” behind, how is your church going to stay on top of its offering plate each week?
Knowing how to encourage people to tithe is necessary of course, but 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 and help to you build a strong church.
If you can grow your church’s financial budget then you can grow your church’s ministry. Finances and resources make ministry happen.
7. Have Effective Church Systems
The seventh and final focus on building a strong church is about creating the right systems.
Dealing specifically with the area of administration and organisation, these are things that can hinder a church’s growth if not done in the right way.
What systems do you have in place to faciliate and sustain church growth?
I like to think of this way: if I have to do something more than once, I need to 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.
Whether it be 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.
Many issues pastors and church leaders face are not down to the preaching, church culture or lack of leadership – most of the limiting factors to church growth can be traced back to a lack of having the right systems in place.
You could follow a sermon system to organise your preparation and presentation, a follow up system to for new church guests, a discipleship system and a leadership training system to name a few.
Creating healthy systems facilities further growth.
My top recommendation for pastors who want to effectively organise their churches is The Systems Bundle by The Rocket Company.
It’s full of practical done-for you resources to help you create healthy systems in your church and streamline your processes so that you can do more with less.
Knowing how to build a church congregation means knowing where to focus your efforts:
- Have a clear and compelling church vision and cast it constantly.
- Figure out who you want to reach – who is your target audience?
- Get your church outward-focused – create a culture of new people inviting people and be ready for guests.
- Improve your preaching – a strong church is a church full of the Word
- Get more people to step up and serve – learn how to gain, train and retain volunteers.
- Increase your church giving and have more money for ministry.
- Build effective church systems – good organisation facilitates church growth.
Push past your attendance limits
If you want help to get from where you are to where you want to be, I have some deeper practical help.
How To Solve The Church Attendance Puzzle is a completely FREE webinar that’s going to show church leaders how to break through attendance barriers that limits growth and take their churches to the next level.
In this webinar hosted by Ben Crawshaw you’ll learn:
1. The biggest mistake churches make that costs them attendance (You’ll be surprised… it’s not what you think!)
2. How to get more people at your services (and keep them coming back)
3. The best way to get this Sunday’s guests to return next week
(only 200 places available!)
Whether your church is 50, 150 or 250 people, I know this live event is really going to help you get your church unstuck.
What’s helped your church grow?
What have you tried that’s been successful? Scroll down and share your comments with us.