The Best Days for Growing Your Church

The Best Days for Growing Your Church
By Rick Warren

One of the secrets of growth at Saddleback Church is that we use special days as an evangelism tool and to keep our members motivated toward the growth of our congregation. In a sense, Saddleback Church was built around three days—Easter, Christmas, and Mother’s Day.

Here’s why these high-attendance days are so valuable:


Special days attract the community

Can you imagine the impression it made on the citizens of Jerusalem when 3,000 people accepted Christ on the day of Pentecost? We’ve found that one big day will often attract people who would normally ignore our church. They come because they sense something is happening and they want to check us out.


Special days enlarge the vision of your members

For example, on Easter Sunday, we try to give the congregation a vision of what the church could be as we grow, and then we operate on that vision for the rest of the year.


Special days build moral

People enjoy being part of something big and exciting; it develops unity in the congregation and among the staff. People who might not ever get involved in anything else will get involved in a special day.


Special days increase your pool of volunteers

We’ve found that a big day mobilizes the congregation, and once people are involved, there’s a good chance they’ll stay involved. For instance, we’ll get lots of new volunteers to be greeters on a special day. Then we ask them to come back and greet on a regular basis.


Special days increase your prospect list

Because so many visitors attend on special days, you receive names and contact information that allow you to follow up and discover who’s most open to evangelism.

Special days stretch people’s faith

Without faith, it’s impossible to please God, and these special days force us to step out in faith.

When we decided to celebrate our church’s six-month anniversary, I asked members to bow their heads and pray about the attendance goal we should set. Then I asked them to raise a hand when I said the number they thought should be our attendance goal for the anniversary weekend. I started at 150 and worked my way up; when I said 500 almost everybody raised a hand.

I said, “Okay, that’s our goal,” but I went home scared to death. I started lecturing God: “Lord, we’re not going to have 500 people, and it’s going to be a big failure. Everybody’s going to go home discouraged because we set a huge goal and we failed to reach it.”

Then God reminded me of a sermon on redefining failure that I’d preached a few months earlier. I’d said that as long as you’re acting in faith, you’re pleasing God. That means failure is not failing to reach your goal; failure is not even setting a goal. As long as you’re attempting something for the glory of God, you are successful.

On that anniversary, we failed to reach our goal of 500, but we still had a big day with 380 in attendance more than we’d ever had before! We thought 380 was pretty good for a church that was only six months old.

What should you do if you don’t reach your goal on your special day? Simple! Don’t worry about it, and set another faith goal to reach. The growth of Saddleback looks like this: Up some, then down a little, up some more, then down a little, up even more, then down a little. You build in a pyramidal fashion, so you never go all the way back down, even if you do go down.

You won’t keep everybody who attends on a special day, but you’re still better off than you were. Some people will return, particularly if you plan on ways to keep them attending, such as using the special day to launch a sermon series. The people who keep coming back can be won to Christ, discipled, and then brought into the membership—transformed from crowd to congregation.


This article, “The Best Days for Growing Your Ministry” written by Rick Warren excerpted from REV! magazine, September/October 2007 edition.

“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.”