Josh Hunt is a church and Sunday School growth consultant based in New Mexico (www.joshhunt.com). He recently wrote an article in which he asked whether there is a place for the “normal” church. In a landscape populated by the purpose driven, missional, seeker-driven, or church du jour, can the “normal” church still be used by God? His conclusion, “Yes, if …..” church leaders give attention to some of the basics.
Here is the gist of the ten items Josh listed:
- Study your church. Know your people.
- Improve the music. More than the style of the music, the question is, “Is it any good?”
- Improve the preaching and teaching. Josh notes, “The number one predictor of the growth of any church is the preaching ability of the pastor.” He goes on to suggest, “The best way for a pastor to improve his preaching is for him to teach his Sunday school teachers how to communicate. You work on improving their communication skills and everyone improves.”
- Train the workers. People make growth strategies work! Train them and give them experience in teaching skills, leadership skills, people skills, evangelism and growth skills, and spiritual development.
- Preach a gospel of joy and grace. I love the way Josh put it: “The gospel is a gospel of good news. It is a message of joy and grace that God loves us and will forgive us of all of our sins. He will give us a life of meaning and purpose. He will show us, through His word, how to live the best life possible in an often inhospitable world. Being in several hundred churches has taught me that the theology in growing churches is often different from the theology in non-growing churches. Growing churches preach grace with a smile. Declining churches teach grace with a scowl. There is a difference.
- Model and vision cast of growth. Want to grow your Bible study groups? Then do more than just encourage others; get personally involved.
- Take care of the visitors. Beyond the simple matter of a good first impression when they arrive at your church, see that they’re invited to lunch or a Sunday School class gathering. Invest in the relationship.
- Take care of the details. Again, Josh puts it so succinctly: “It matters that your nursery doesn’t smell like a dirty diaper. It matters that the words are speled wright in teh buliten. It matters that the soloist sings on key.”
- Go after kids. God still works salvation miracles with adults. But, the number of people who come to Christ after their teenage years is small when compared with those reached when they are younger.
- Love God; love people. “Don’t get so focused on getting church right that you fail to keep your relationship with God right.”