I'll be honest, I'm fully aware that my title is high level click bait material...so I apologize for that.
However, I'm not messing around here. And I'm not pulling a bait and switch to try and sell you something. I actually believe church growth can be reduced down to one simple thought. And I'm going to give it to you right after a word from our sponsor...
Here it is...
Help every person take their next step.
A CULTURE OF DISCIPLESHIP
Yup. That's it. If I was to reduce church growth down to one simple thought, it really is about helping every person take their next step. For every person that visits our church, we do our best to help them take another step. So, if they are visiting, their next step is to come back the following week. If they come back the next week, we are trying to get them to attend our Belong Class (Next Steps, Growth Track etc). If they take the class and haven't been water baptized then guess what? We are trying to get them water baptized! If they aren't serving, we are trying to get them on a team...and well you get the idea.
If you function with this one guiding thought, then your church will grow numerically but it will also grow in discipleship and that seems to be a missing component often in our growth strategies. I don't just want people to attend more, I want them to grow closer to Jesus and know Him more! So in order to do that...I am going to help them take their next step, whatever that might be.
5 WAYS TO EMBED THIS IN YOUR CULTURE
TALK ABOUT IT.
In every staff meeting and every leadership gathering we are using the same type of language with our teams. We are always talking about how we can move people forward. I am asking staff questions such as "who is joining your team?" "have you followed up with new people who want to join their team?" In that way, I am training them to think about helping other people take a step forward in their personal growth.
STRATEGIZE FOR IT.
It is critical to build systems and structures behind the scenes that enable your team to do what you are asking them to do. Now, this isn't a blog post about systems and structures so you'll have to get that somewhere else...but you have to make sure those pieces are in place. Have you ever charted the pathway of a Connect Card in your church? Maybe you should. What happens when someone fills out a card? Does it go into the eternal abyss of nothingness or does it actually get to someone who will follow up with that person?
You will always get more of what you celebrate. We are all aware of that, whether you are a pastor or a parent. So, we take time to celebrate growing teams, we rejoice as a church when people decide to become members or be water baptized or make a decision for Jesus! We start every staff meeting or leadership meeting with encouraging leaders to tell stories of how people took next steps in the church! We celebrate that Johnny took a step of faith and was water baptized, we celebrate that 2 new families came to our membership class after attending for a month, we celebrate that Lisa finally gave up smoking as an act of surrender to God's will in her life. Every step is an important step as people grow closer to Jesus. This is a critical component in a culture that values discipleship.
Whatever you are leading, from church to business to your family, you have to be intentional about discipleship and growth or it won't happen. People don't take next steps without conversations, and conversations don't happen unless you are making opportunities for them to happen outside of the 60-90 minutes you have on a Sunday.
At LifeSpring we use Planning Center as our primary database and in it we have and are creating workflows around 5 key areas that are highly pastoral in nature... and they all start with the letter "B".
- Belong - this is our membership and assimilation track
- Baptism - we teach the person and help them write a short testimony
- Benevolence - pastoring people needing help in crisis
- Believers - new believers are an awesome "next step" discussion
- Babies - dedications are often a great opportunity for pastoral connection
In these five areas we have (and are) creating leadership guidelines for discussion and how to answer tough questions. So when a new request comes in via our app, a connect card or the website we can send that request to one of our lay pastors who can meet with and disciple the person or persons involved. The people are being discipled and the leader is also being discipled. HUGE WIN!
TALK ABOUT IT.
I know I already said this one...but I repeat it to let you know you can never talk about it enough with your leaders. About the time you are sick and tired of saying it is when they are just starting to understand it. So keep talking about it as often as you can.
How about you? What ways have you adopted to help people really take another step in their growth? How have you as a leader incorporated this thought into your team? Leave a comment below!