Declining numbers in church attendance have led to many churches looking for ways to grow. This has become more difficult with the way in which the coronavirus pandemic has affected church meetings, but growth is still possible. In fact, many churches have had more visitors online than they have ever had in person, and the hope is that such growth continues once churches are allowed to meet in person again.
Church growth in all forms is an outcome that results from the practice of evangelism and discipleship. Without an evangelical element and the constant outreach from church buildings, new members of the congregation cannot be found. Once they are found, engaging in discipleship is the key factor in keeping those members and building the flock.
Church growth ideas often come from larger churches where there is already a thriving congregation, but it is worth investigating other churches – even those that are no longer around. At one time, churches that have closed due to a lack of people were once vibrant examples of what a church could be. Their problem was never church growth, but more a matter of maintaining the levels of the current members of the church.
There is no magic formula that will bring church growth, and church growth ideas are simply ideas – it takes time and effort to put them into practice. Without a quick fix, smaller churches may wonder what to do, but the simple answer is to keep going. Keep reaching out, keep encouraging, and build on what you already have.
Faithfully meeting and honest conversations will go a long way toward building a church that grows, thrives, and makes a difference. Be flexible, be ready to adapt and pivot when needed – after all, who foresaw the need for online church services in August 2019? It was a great thing to have, a supplement to the Sunday meeting, but by April 2020 it was vital for every church to get online if they wanted to reach almost anyone.
The Church Growth Ideas Top 10
Meet People Where They Are
Everyone is different, has a different job, lives in different accommodation, and so on. If you put a sign outside your church saying everyone is welcome, that’s great – but it only affects the people who see it. You need to become part of your local community, joining in events, helping those in need, volunteering, visiting workplaces.
It’s not always easy for someone to walk into a church, and so offering different ways to connect is important. We’ll discuss online outreaches in a moment, but remember, not everyone is online. Holding a coffee morning where everyone is invited may seem ineffective, but it might be the only connection people have with other humans this week, especially if they don’t have a computer or smartphone.
Advertising and Marketing
Perhaps the most obvious way to connect with others to facilitate church growth is through advertising, both online and offline. Social media platforms and Google Ads will help you get noticed, as will advertising in local newspapers. Better yet, do something great and have it reported in the paper!
Remember, you still need to meet people where they are. Advertising in Christian Weekly won’t have such a wide reach as placing an advert in your town’s local paper as you’ll be limiting your demographics.
The modern church needs a website and social media to help with growth, and during times of pandemic, being present on a video platform is useful. Podcasts can help to spread your message, and more people may hear them that you’d imagine.
Don’t be only-online wherever possible, but do keep in mind that it is easy to reach people around the world with an online presence, facilitating exceptional church growth.
Make Everyone Welcome
Face it – some churches don’t like kids. Noise is frowned on, and everything must be deathly quiet. The problem is that kids (including teenagers) are made to feel unwelcome and just don’t want to come to church. The easiest way to kill a church? Cut off the young people.
That’s not to say that incessant chatter can continue and noisy pings and dings from phones should be tolerated – but older people can chat just as much as youngsters, and many old people don’t know how to mute their phones.
Make everyone welcome, no matter their age, no matter their background. Be wise and always employ safeguarding procedures where necessary, but don’t turn people away because of preconceived ideas about their history or their age.
Create services, events, and other initiatives for particular groups. Have a kids ministry, have a seniors event, but don’t make your church fit for only one demographic, for when the people in that demographic change with time, the church will be left empty.
Celebrate The Events
Be in the world, but not of the world – how many times do you hear that? Celebrating events can be a time of conflict within your church as people will have different ideas of what is “right” – Christmas is the birth of Jesus, so why have we got Santa sat in the corner?
Here’s the deal – people go to church at Easter and Christmas even if they don’t go at ANY OTHER TIME OF YEAR. It’s the perfect opportunity to get the message across to people (that message being “you are welcome” and “God loves you”) but you’ve got to keep them interested.
Santa isn’t in the Bible. Neither is the Easter Bunny. Drinking juice and eating rice cakes isn’t either, but you don’t worry too much about that. Church buildings with WiFi and flushing toilets don’t make an appearance, and if someone took the roof off to lower another person down for healing, the senior leadership might have a few words to say about it.
While Christmas and Easter are the most significant celebrations in the church calendar, non-Christians and non-regular attendees will want to celebrate with your church. Welcome them. Put on a show. Have Santa, have chocolate eggs, do it for the kids if nothing else.
Even other events can be times of welcoming – Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Valentine’s Day, all offer opportunity for connection. And what about Halloween? Hold a party with treats for everyone, maybe even go as far as carving a cross in a pumpkin and putting a light inside. You’ll have the light of the world shining out on what some consider to be the darkest night of the year – and it’s family friendly with food, fun, and games for everyone.
When people have a good time, they’ll want to come back again and again.
Keep Sunday Simple
A good message and a few songs of worship is the way to make Sunday work, and it doesn’t need to be too deep. A few guiding principles and a nice welcome are enough. For those who like a little more meat on their Bible-based service, offer a mid-week meeting to dig deeper. Indulging in deep theology and shouting about how everyone is born in sin is the right way to send people home, never to return.
Don’t mistake this for an opportunity to deliver a weak message – just make sure you aren’t running a judgmental service that scares people off.
Attention Spans are Dropping
Some services can go on for hours, and it is easy to lose interest. Half an hour is probably approaching the limit, but keep in mind attention spans are dropping with the instant fix of social media and messaging apps at our fingertips. The whole of the Biblical message boils down to “love God and love one another” – if you can’t get that across in just 15 minutes, you might need to rethink your strategy.
Boring services result in church decline. Keep it snappy to encourage church growth.
Whether it is the weekly service or an interaction on social media, make sure that your church builds relationships with those who attend regularly and those who are just interested. A simple hello is a good start, but really being interested in the lives of others will encourage church growth.
Focus On Feeding
The Word is said to feed those who listen to it, and you must keep your congregation well fed with great messages and interesting content. Don’t just go through the motions and hope for growth. Great church experiences are shared with others, either online or through word of mouth. Quality and excellence is important, and if you can’t achieve excellence all the time, at least do your best. If you don’t put the effort in, you can be sure the congregation won’t either.
Small groups within your church can be a great way to enhance growth. While the leader of the church may not be able to know every member of the congregation, small groups allow a set of people to begin to know each other and live life together. Small group leaders will be known to the church leadership, and so the link is formed and the relationship can grow.
Small groups can focus around external factors too, for example, groups that go hiking together, watch football matches together, etc. Anything that gets people interested and building relationships together will help with church growth.
Will Your Church Growth Ideas Work?
As with anything, church growth ideas may not work in every situation. You know your church best, and you know the type and level of growth you are hoping to achieve. By using some of the ideas above and adapting them to your needs, there is a strong chance that your church will grow, expand, and thrive for many years to come.