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
Register for your free spot here.
(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.
21 thoughts on “How To Build A Church Congregation – 7 Key Church Growth Factors”
Making visitors and unchurched people feeling very important
Please can I get this in my email
Great piece. it is simple but very practical. I’m a newly appointed Preacher of a church congregation of say about 200 membership. I was looking for ways to grow this congregation to the next level, thus numerical growth, spiritual growth and financial growth. I google and came across your article 7 ways to grow church congregation and I must say I’m grateful. Continue your good works and may the good Lord grant you more grace to support His Kingdom business. I’m writing from Ghana
Thanks for being a blessing to me through this materials. I strongly believe that the knowledge gained will help me in discharging my responsibilities in growing a healthy Church. To God be all glory. Amen.
Glad you found this helpful! 🙂
It is so awesome we have someone who knows and understand the plight of Pastors who struggle with church growth. It’s not easy.
I so glad I stumbled into this article. so helpful and practical.
I realize that building a church is not easy, especially where a Pastor in the only member with a higher level of literacy… I have to stick with it otherwise who will preach for them?
Thank you Jacob I really appreciate that – I always try to keep it as practical and helpful as possible!
It sounds like God has given you a real heart to reach and train these people. I think point 5 is a really good point to apply in your situation. When a pastor does everything the church becomes a one man show which means the church growth is very limited.
You only have a certain amount of time and energy each day so without training other leads and equipping people with the skills they need to lead, your growth will cap at about 40 or 50.
I think this post will helpful to you: How To Recruit More Church Volunteers. In it I give you a process for training up teams and getting the church involved in serving.
Keep up the great work and God bless you as you build God’s kingdom in SA! 🙂
Thanks for this info , thanks a lot God bless you , I have been encouraged
I’m so glad this has helped you! All I can give it tips and advice and help highlight areas you can focus on but ultimately it’s you that will make it happen. Take it and do it my friend 🙂
Simon, thank you so much for your interesting message. It is very helpful as I was looking for our Bible Study team was asking me on how to be healthy and strong church.
I am also involved in a ministry of training pastors and full-time ministers, more than 1,000 pastors has been trained in a year.
Please would you mind sharing me your thought on how you can be part of the training in Ethiopia-Africa? my email is [deleted]
Wow it does my heart good to know you are taking these principles and not only applying them in your local church setting but using them to equip other church leaders also.
Thank you for the invite but right now I’m focusing my efforts on the church planting here in Thailand and have no plans to travel.
Keep up the amazing work.
God bless you man of God. I am really blessed. This is it!
Haha thank you Vincent! Nothing gives me a greater buzz than to know this article is helping people like your grow your churches to reach more people with the amazing Gospel!
Now the most important part is to apply what you’ve learned here. Start with any one of these steps and take action, tweak and adapt as necessary and watch God add to your number. God bless you too. 🙂
Powerful message Pastor. I’ve been so much blessed by these glorious insights. I actively started my ministry building the beginning of this year in Accra, Ghana, for which I am much grateful to God for the grace bestowed upon me to this very level and having been armed with this very intelligence, I believe massive increase is blanketing my moment soon. bless you man of God..
I am prophetess Susie Cooper, I have an online women minister on Facebook. I am try to build my church congregation.
Hi Susie, it’s great to hear from you. I hope these key areas of focus helped you clarify the steps you can take to build your church congregation and take your church to the next level. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask. Myself or the GrowChurch community here will be more than happy to help.
Thank you so much for concise, great insights.
We are in planting season and I’m wondering if I have underestimated the size of the task. We had a target area in ind but we eventually found a venue outside of target area. Not too far but a different neigbourhood.
We started doing precisely what you had in step 1, and started church precisely after 3 weeks of doing that. Our first service was glorious, I was just elated to be having service, so was my wife, who is the defacto administrator of everything.
We pretty much have suggestions nos. 2 and 3 down but the thing is we are having church by ourselve at this point. I am going out into the area for step no. 1 again in a couple of hours, and my question is, is there anything I can do to be sure that the people I’m chatting with and inviting – they have been nice enough – will actually start checking us out on Sunday.
Thanks and blessings.
Hi Caelin, it’s great to hear from you. It sounds like you are really on the front lines and I commend you for being bold and stepping out in expanding God’s kingdom right where you are.
Here in Thailand we are just launching our small church home groups system and encouraging our leaders to go out, build relationships with the unchurched, make connections and invite.
As a small church just starting out, your strength is in building relationships.
People won’t come to you because you have a large auditorium with thousands of people, a huge choir and all the bells and whistles… one day, but right now. start with where you are.
What I’m trying to say is, your strength as a small church is you are friendly, personable, relationship-based. Focus on your strength in this area.
Genuinely love and care for people and they’ll see that. I would say focus on helping people feel like they belong. If they have a friend they are much more likely to come back.
This week I had the privilege of eating pizza with a church planter in Cambodia, he came to Thailand for a couple of days. In the last 5 months he has started 9 connect groups and is launching his Sunday morning church service in November and is believing for 150 on the first service.
He said something very interesting…
I asked “Sometimes we spend time and invest in people, but we get nothing back, they say they’ll come but then they don’t… is there some people you won’t invest in?”
He said relationship is two way. So he’ll meet people for coffee, talk about anything (the purpose is connection not conversion or sign up at this point). But if he meets with someone 3-4 times and they don’t come or there’s just nothing coming back, he’ll move on to the next person because there’s so many other people out there just waiting for someone to come along and build them.
I would say don’t meet with people just so they can ‘join your church’, show them you actually care for them, build a friendship, then start introducing a short Bible lesson with them. This is how small groups start.
Then of course, once people do come for the first time, having a good follow up system in place is important.
I hope this helps, I’d love to hear how you get on.
Wonderful insights and please do keep on advising for the sake of the church..
Thanks for the encouragement Matia, thank you for your service to our great God also!