We’re now five years into what will most likely be a life-long journey of Church planting, and we’ve had two of our congregations grow past the twenty-five barrier and stay there. By this I mean that we are aiming at an average attendance in your services.
When we’re not growing we have this habit of counting how many people we know, or that are in our database. Add a new friend on Facebook and put another digit on what you tell the other Pastors at this year’s big conference. Instead I’m talking about making disciples that are committed to worshipping Jesus and being part of the community that you are building.
The more we do this Church leading and studying stuff, the more I start to see patterns emerging, and although I don’t think we’re in a place where I can speak about hitting the fifty barrier in a single venue/site, I can certainly see some patterns to growing past twenty five.
During this five-part series I will look at some of those patterns, philosophies or principles and aim to answer a question that was burning inside me a few years ago: “Will we ever grow beyond twenty people?”
If you’ve started from scratch then you will have no doubt been doing loads of Evangelism and networking. If you put on a decent event you might have a hundred people come out of the woodwork and you can get some great photos of a full Church. The problem is that you might feel slightly afraid of inviting a guest speaker to your Sunday service because you know that on a good week you’ll have twenty people turn up, but on your website there’s a room full of people.
The truth is that you probably have all those people around you, the key to breaking the next growth barrier is to consolidate what you have.
Believe it or not, the key to growth on the average Sunday isn’t getting a guest speaker in every week. In fact, in Lincoln we have committed to not paying for a guest speaker to come to us until 2020. You need to find a way to get those two or three families that rarely turn up on a Sunday to commit to your vision and to one another.
During this five-part series of articles we’ll discuss how to go about this consolidation process, but it’s worth mentioning before we begin that part of consolidating is laying to rest those things that aren’t working for you.
If you’ve been planting a Church from scratch, you’ll be struggling with cash flow. If there are things that you do that don’t win the lost or deepen the faith of the congregation, then you need to let it die or strategically take it out. Specially if it’s costing you money. If you have something that is working well but costing you loads, then you need to get the Church to back it financially.
In business when consolidating, you close outlets that are costing you money, or you throw money at them hoping that you’ll bring them back to life.
In this case though, you have life all around you, but the guys just need a nudge to fully buy in.
The first key to growing past twenty-five is to trim the branches that don’t bear fruit, and invest time, finance and energy into the branches that do. You need to get the Church committed before going hard on your Evangelistic efforts again.
It’s hard but you need to think about your core DNA. Write some stuff down. What is your vision? Make sure that the whole Church knows it. Make sure it’s simple. What are your key values? The Church should know this too, and they should express it at every given opportunity. Our vision is ‘that none should perish’. Our core values are to be loving, loyal and lavish. I think our guys might have got bored of me drumming this stuff in, but you have to.
The problem is that people live very unstable lives, and so they only turn up as and when the thought of Church flickers into their mind at the right moment. To turn unstable into stable you need to become boring and mundane. Say the same thing over and over again until everyone gets it. Go and visit people in their home and tell them the same stuff. Actually try asking them to up their game. What is there to lose?
This consolidation process will happen over and over again as the Church grows, but I’ve found that it needs to happen at this part of the journey.