Some of the reasons a church may not be growing could be self-inflicted barriers. These are seven of the most common barriers.
Are you a member of a local church? Where? How active are you? Did you know that the church is really not a building? It is really made up of Christians all around the world. Jesus built the church (Matthew 16:18) and willingly died for the benefit of the church (Ephesians 5:25).
God has a Purpose: We can be part of God’s work through the church. “So in Christ we are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others” (Romans 12:5).
- Fact – As part of the church, we can enjoy God with other Christians, in worship, Hebrews 10:25, Ephesians 5:19-20.
- Fact – As part of the church, we should tell others about what Christ did for us, Acts 1:8, 2 Corinthians 5:18-20.
- Fact – As part of the church, we should grow deeper in a relationship with Jesus and allow him to change our lives, 2 Peter 3:18.
- Fact – As part of the church, we should help each other as Christians, 1 Corinthians 12:12-26.
- Fact – As part of the church, we should fellowship, or hang out, with each other, Hebrews 10:24-25.
- Fact – We need to identify ourselves with the church, Acts 2:41-42.
- Fact – We need strength for daily living, which can come through fellowship with other Christians, Hebrews 3:13.
- Fact – We need to help the church by using our personal talents and spiritual gifts, Romans 12:4-8.
- Fact – God established the church as the body of Christ, Ephesians 4:4, Colossians 1:18.
- Fact – God wants our church membership to be in the total church, Revelation 22:17.
- Fact – God wants every Christian to participate in church membership, Hebrews 10:25.
- Fact – Jesus showed us how important was by his regular attendance at synagogue, Luke 4:16.
- Act – You can become a member of a local church by telling of your faith in Christ and being baptized, Acts 2:41, 47.
- Act – You can share in the Fellowship of the local church by becoming a member.
- Act – Your participation in the local church is crucial for your life to be what God wants it to be.
If you are already to make the commitment to join a local church, you can do so by stopping by King’s Grant Baptist Church. Pray about your decision and commitment with a sample prayer like this:
“God, thank you for the church and for allowing me to become a part of it. Help me to be faithful and to support my new family at church.” Amen
King’s Grant has a Facebook page, but I often wonder how we can best utilize social media. Here are a few tips that will help us maximize Facebook to engage a wider audience than we ever dreamed possible:
- Be Consistent. The biggest mistake we make is creating a page and rarely posting to it. Set a schedule and stick to it, posting at least once a day. It would be nice to have several administrators who are updating the page.
- Inspire our Audience. Inspiring our congregation doesn’t have to just happen in your church building. It can happen online as well!
- Ask Questions. Remember that social media is social and asking questions is the best way to start a conversation.
- Tell Stories. There’s nothing more powerful than sharing a story of how God has moved in the life of someone in our congregation or sharing a highlight from a recent event in our church.
- Share Information. While this is last on the list, it’s still important to let our congregation know what’s going on. CONFESSION, this is often the only content that gets posted, so sorry about that. The danger is the page becomes irrelevant and ignored.
It’s important to remember that social media is social, and listening is a big part of social interaction. Beyond our posting strategy, the most valuable tip is to make sure we listen to our people. These posts create a conversation and the comments that follow are often far more valuable than the original post can ever be. I’ve seen it in personal Facebook pages, it can happen for the church as well.
[print_link] [email_link] [ Adapted from Church Volunteer Daily ]
Choosing to Join King’s Grant Baptist Church is an important decision. People today will wonder in and out of our services without ever understanding how important church membership is unless pastors and leaders help them understand that, but also properly shepherd them through the process of joining. I include church leaders because the pastor cannot do it alone.
According to LifeWay research, 64% of churches either have nothing to assimilate new members, or no systemic plan to move people towards membership. This is why I offer the Connection Class several times throughout the year.
Connection Classes Help Guard the Purity of the Church: In our culture the statement “I am a Christian” can mean different things to different people, so it is important to make sure that everyone desiring membership in our church understands and believes the gospel. During a class we might find some people have never heard the gospel clearly articulated even if they grew up in church. So, it is so helpful to talk about the “secrets of being a healthy and happy church member.” The key to health and happiness in church membership is understanding salvation. It is so good to hear someone’s testimony along with presenting a basic gospel presentation before they join our church. Our Connection class provides church the opportunity to explain the gospel clearly.
Connection Classes Help People Understand the Church: These classes help people in the church to be “on the same page.” I believe that a prospective member should know what the church believes on essential and non-essential doctrines, the meaning of church ordinances, how a church works, and how it makes decisions, with who we associate and partner, lifestyle beliefs. We also spend time communicating the church vision, core values, and explain its ministry philosophy can be an important aspect of helping someone make the decision to join the church. Teaching these things can also help new people learn what they can expect from the church leaders, processes, and its ministries, and what the congregation can expect out of them.
Connection Classes Help People Plug In to Serve the Church: We need to provide an effective environment to plug people into serving in our church. All members have certain gifts and abilities that can be used in serving God and others through the church. When someone first joins, it can be difficult to figure out where to get involved. We cannot assume that a new member will automatically want to get involved in ministry and will know how to do so. In our Connection Class, people learn that the congregation expects them to get involved, and learn of entry level opportunities for service.
Connection Classes Help Guard the Unity of the Church: When a church emphasizes membership expectations, we are able to raise the bar of membership. While a scary thing, we also should talk about what would happen if church members did not live up to membership expectations. Clarity in the Connection Class goes a long way in setting the church member on the right path. This information can serve to preempt potential church discipline issues later on.
Connection Classes Help People Assimilate Into the Church: We see the class as an opportunity to encourage regular attendees to get to know other potential members of the church, as well as leaders in the church. While the primary purposes of the Connection Class is for church orientation and teaching doctrine, mission, values, and vision, this relational orientation to church leaders is a very positive thing.
The writers of the New Testament assumed that the local churches to whom they were writing had a clear understanding of who was a member of the church and who was not (1 Corinthians 5:2; Colossians 4:5; Galatians 6:10). The Connection Class is one of the most effective ways to examine, assimilate, and clearly guide new members into our church family.
[print_link] [email_link] Adapted from Matt Capps, and Ministry Grid
Why is it that churches tend to slip into decline? A vibrant and growing ministry becomes “plateaued” or begins to lose the numbers or excitement it once had. How about these steps to find a solution:
1. Return to Your First Passion (Revelation 2:4-5) – But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first. If you don’t repent, I will come and remove your lampstand from its place among the churches.
Churches don’t realize how far they have fallen, then “church” simply becomes routine, going through the motions, and going into maintenance mode. If we will only remember the first days of our relationship with Christ, the excitement, the purpose, the mission, the commands, the new insights; perhaps we will be restored to our earlier fellowship, and make an impact on our community and others around us. The key in this passage is a single word… REPENT. While that is so humiliating, (to admit that we have fallen away, or drifted), that is the solution the angel provides through the apostle John.
2. Remember Your Foundational Purpose (Matthew 28:19-20) – Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
This passage talks a lot about mission and purpose; we are to be about our Father’s business of evangelism and discipleship. How often do we begin to cool in our desire for God’s kingdom to increase?
I recently read Brian Moss* who writes, “Churches plateau and decline due to missional drift.” I cannot think of any church that ever drifted and kept the main thing the main thing. In order to get the church moving in the right direction we’ve got to figure out which direction we need to go! Moss again writes, “Too often plateaued churches focus on growing the church numerically before they correct the drift philosophically. If you focus on growth before depth you’ll be tempted to adopt gimmicks, quick fixes and copycat tactics. Don’t change anything until your core leaders are thoroughly committed to the biblical purposes of the church.”
The Great Commandment is essential as well; to love God and to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:36-40). These are the reasons for worship and ministry. We worship due to our love for God and we are involved in ministry because of our love for others. Let’s rekindle our focus on the primary purpose of the church, to know Christ and to make him known.
3. Refocus on Your Favorite People: by “favorite” I mean your target audience.
Moss writes about his church experience: “Our church was hidden in the woods at the end of a dead-end road completely surrounded by an upper-income housing development. Our congregation was comprised of medium income families. We tried for months to reach the families in the homes surrounding our church. It was a complete failure. Finally, we decided to try reaching people like us. We learned the hard way that you reach who you are, not who you want.”
That sounds a lot like our situation, high income and powerful people in the neighborhood north of the church property. We are a congregation that has a good number of these types families, but we also have plenty of average income families, young and old, and a fair amount of transitioning young Navy families. Perhaps we have a schizophrenic personality, not knowing who we are, but we CAN reach people like us; each group reaching out to their own circles of influence.
That, my friend is relational, and I feel is the beginning of effective evangelism and discipleship.
[print_link] [email_link] *Brian Moss is pastor at Oak Ridge Baptist, Salisbury MD