Secret to Church Growth

Pastors occasionally ask me what, in my opinion, is the number one secret to church growth. Most are expecting me to suggest an evangelism program or some unique outreach idea. While evangelism is essential, it comes in a distant second to developing a great ministry team. Those who are involved in wealth management will tell you it’s not the great stock pick that builds wealth. It’s the steady investment in a proven investment portfolio, and then allowing time to make compound interest work for you.

Church growth is the same. Great outreach programs are good, but in the long run, it’s the steady day-to-day witnessing done by your church members that builds churches. I like to focus on the basics: inviting and following-up on visitors, teaching home Bible studies, training and encouraging saints to witness, and developing a solid Sunday school program that reaches both children and adults. These work today as good as ever. But if you fail in ministry organization, your outreach programs will fail also.

By ministry organization, I mean putting together a ministry team that covers all the aspects of a great church. Twelve solid departments that minister inward to strengthen the church and outward to win the lost. Inward typically are Ladies Ministry, Men’s Ministry, New Convert Care, Music, Youth and Prayer/ Missions. Outward usually are Sunday School, Home Bible Study, Visitor Follow-up, Outreach, Promotions/Multi-Media, and Bus Ministry. But once you select your ministry team, you must then manage them. However, because they were not professionally trained for their position, the need for hands-on management is essential. I urge pastors to adopt four key management principles.

These are: (1) Annual Planning Retreat – a group weekend spent brainstorming plans for the coming year. (2) Written One-Year Plan – each leader hands in written plans and goals of what they intend to do each month for the coming year. (3) Monthly Planning Council – the pastor has a group leadership meeting each month to review and implement the plans and goals detailed in the one-year plans. (4) Weekly Tag-In – the pastor tags-in briefly with his team on a regular service night to encourage, solve problems, and bring accountability to plans and assignments.

Without a good support organization, people will come in the front door and, after a few months, slip out the back. Sadly, they grow, but then lose in equal numbers.