Last Update 11th October, 2016.
A regular question I get is “How do you grow a small church?”
Pastoring a small church, especially a new church plant can be challenging.
The key is to concentrate your strengths as a small church and know which areas to focus on.
Right now I’m serving as a missionary in Thailand, working as part of a team to support church planting efforts.
3 months ago we planted a church in a small coastal town of Sriracha where I live.
We are currently a small Thai speaking church. We have approx. 40 adults and 50 children in attendance each week.
Here are 6 practical steps we are implementing right now as a leadership team to grow that total number to 70 adults by the end of the year.
My hope is that whether your church is small and struggling, or bigger but plateaued, that this list will help you to take your church to the next level.
Would love to hear from pastors and church leaders in the comments below about what you’ve done and what success you’ve had.
1. Pray, Pray, Pray
This might seem obvious but it must always be our starting point. We do everything through being connected with God.
- Prayer gets us connected to the heart of God for the lost.
- Prayer helps us to hear and recognise God’s voice.
- Prayer sensitises us to prompting of the Holy Spirit.
It’s good to pray for:
- a heart for those that don’t know God.
- a willingness to serve in the kingdom.
- a confidence and boldness to share the Gospel outside the four walls of the church.
No great work has ever been accomplished for God without spending time in prayer.
We can work harder and smarter but without prayer it will not amount to anything.
Prayer is for the church but also for you – in order for God to do through you what He wants to, you must not be running on an empty tank.
As you pray and connect with God, let me share with you these focus areas I believe the pastor should prioritise to help his small church grow…
2. Believe it will be bigger
Think and act big.
Take any limits off of your thinking.
Proverbs 23:7 says, “As he thinketh in his heart, so is he.”
If you are going to grow your church, you must think and act as if it is larger than it is.
Can you see new families coming into your church? Can you see young people getting connected with the youth ministry? You must see it before it will happen.
Jesus always works according to our faith and if you can see it you can have it.
3. Train Your Members to Evangelise
Focus on that.
Rather than stretching your non-existent budget on advertising, train your people to bring people to church.
It’s well known that word of mouth referrals are by far the best form of marketing.
Your small church can grow if you equip the saints for the work of the ministry.
Get a committed core group together and show them how to start praying for unsaved family and friends.
Write a prayer list of names together.
You can show your members how to share the Gospel in a simple and friendly way.
Help them to see that they don’t have to be a theologian to talk with their friends about Christ. Train them how to share their personal testimony.
Speaking from their own experience is by far one of the most powerful ways to speak to their friends about Christ.
You could even think about organising an “Invite a Friend to Church Sunday” to get the ball rolling.
Set a date and plan for it.
Getting new people through your doors is the first step, now let’s look at how you can be ready for them when they come.
4. Give a warm welcome
Your church will only grow if your first time visitors come back for a second and third time.
For each new guest that walks through your door make sure you:
1. Welcome them. Your welcoming team give people their one and only first impression of the church. Train your welcoming team and treat your guests well.
If you don’t have them already, here’s how to make a church welcome pack.
2. Connect with them. Get their contact information. Make sure you fill out a card or sheet with each visitor’s basic contact information such as name, mailing address, phone number, and email address.
3. Follow up with them. Send a letter or email to each visitor thanking them for attending your church service. By the end of the week, call or visit them if possible.
You may find 6 Ideas to Follow Up Church Visitors Effectively helpful also.
If your existing members can see that the church is expecting and ready for visitors, they will confidently start inviting their friends, family and coworkers knowing that they’ll receive a good welcome and be well looked after.
5. Worship Well
Terrific or terrible, the standard of our worship services are a major factor in determining whether or not your church will thrive.
And honestly, it’s not about having a fifty strong choir or full setup, it’s what you do with what you have that counts.
There are certain skills, attitudes and practices that can help you or your worship leader lead worship better.
Here are some pointers on how to revive your worship services.
6. Preach better sermons
In order to grow our small church, our sixth and final focus is to improve the quality of our preaching.
The messages you deliver are what keep your current members coming back week after week.
And, they’re the greatest determining factor of whether or not guests and unchurched people will attend your church.
Jesus drew crowds when he preached because he spoke with authority about real life issues.
He engaged them with real life examples and interesting stories.
Great preaching fuels people to invite their unsaved family and friends to church and keep them coming back.
This is why preaching is best way to grow your small church because ff people return to your church for a second time they are far more likely to get connected with your church family; turning visitors into members.
“90% of unchurched people choose a church based on the pastor or preaching.” [Tweet this]
So there you have it – how to grow a small church in six practical steps.
Although this may not be an exhaustive list, my hope is that this list will have served to highlight which areas you can focus on and take your church to the next level.
Anything I’ve missed? What do you think are significant factors in helping a small church grow? Please share your comments below