By Josh Hunt
Nothing is important until the pastor says it is important. I started to type, “Nothing is important until the pastor thinks it is important.” That’s not right. Nothing is important until the pastor says, and says and says and says, it is important.
It is the law of prime time. If you want to get anything to be a part of the culture of the church, you have to get it to prime time. Prime time, in church life, is Sunday morning. You have to get it to Sunday morning, and you have to get the pastor to say it is important. Whether it is prayer ministry, missions, evangelism, or doubling groups, if you really want it to happen, you have to get it to prime time. Nothing is important until the pastor says it is important.
How one church tripled in 10 years
Immanuel Baptist in Tallahassee, Fla., has an amazing turn-around story of tripling the congregation in the last decade. How did they do it? Pastor Rich Kencl had a ready and simple answer. It contains three parts:
Life-changing Bible study
I thought I had an idea of what Pastor Kincl meant by dynamic worship and life-changing Bible study, so I asked how the outreach worked.
“We have a nine-step strategy,” Kincl said. It all has to do with how they treat guests.
Here it is:
1. Deacon contact–Sunday afternoon phone call.
2. Letter from the pastor–sent Monday.
3. Letter to the Sunday school workers–sent Monday. (I asked about e-mailing these; they said that is in progress.)
4. Personal notes from Sunday school workers and staff.
5. church-wide outreach–Monday night visitation.
6. Ministerial staff assignments–assigned on Monday. They go over each name in staff meeting. They sent me the working copy of the document they go over week by week. It is 56 pages long! That takes, “Know well the condition of your flock” to a new level.
7. Pastor’s assignments. The pastor personally calls every visitor every week.
8. Staff visitation–Monday night also. All staff are required to be involved. Other visits made through the week as well.
9. Wednesday evening cards. Little yellow cards that list prospects are handed out during adult worship mid-week for church members to call on would-be members. People are asked to call each week.
The thing I noticed about this list is although they call it outreach, it is not going out into the community. It is taking really good care of the visitors they have. In my book, “You Can Double,” I have a section on reaching the reachable.
The most reachable people in town are the people who visit your worship service.
Most churches can grow just by taking really good care of their visitors. And, this approach does have a positive approach on evangelistic growth, not just transfer growth. Baptism numbers went up as Immanuel started this approach.
Immanuel also tracked people the first time they hit four absences in a row. This is a good thing to watch if you suspect you have a back-door problem. Churches that wait six months drop their chances of retaining members substantially. Churches that catch people after four consecutive absences have a good chance of getting them back.
Databases help churches do this. Immanuel’s database generates a weekly list of people who hit four absences on this week. What do they do with the list? “Give it to me. I will call them.” Pastor Kencl responded.
This is the point I want to make in this week’s article: Note the pastor’s personal involvement in this process. The pastor was the first one to volunteer to make some calls. The pastor made calls every week. The pastor hands out yellow slips on Wednesday night. Personally. The pastor did not ask anyone to do what he did not do. The pastor embodied the vision. Whatever the pastor says is important, is important. It is the law of prime time.
How to Triple Attendance in Ten Years. By Josh Hunt.
This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”