Shane L. Bishop
It was 1998. The E-mail was an SOS. “Could anyone point me to some churches that were running in the 200’s a few years ago and are running over 400 now?” To say the list was short would be an understatement. As ChristChurch has grown through the years, I have made a point of documenting some of the things we have learned about breaking though natural plateaus that tend to put a lid on most congregations. Breaking 400 was a formidable challenge.
Here are seven strategies we used:
1. Catch a Vision: Take your staff and leaders to a church twice your size that was your size five years ago. Let them worship, spend some time with their staff and spend a weekday there to sense the flow of a larger church. Find a realistic model somewhere in your part of the country and learn everything you can. We can’t achieve what we cannot imagine.
2. Improve Worship: Make a serious investment in your worship services. The quality needed for a church of 400 is twice that of a church of 200. You need better preaching, singing, flow and impact. You will need competitive technology and some fresh music. Churches grow into their quality more often than they add quality as a response to growth.
3. Rethink Budgeting: Staff and budget for the size of church you wish to be, not the size of church you are. Don’t lose your mind here but remember; no risk, no reward. The biggest risk of all is to do nothing if you are plateaued or dying.
4. Rethink Staffing: Staff for what grows the church. Invest serious money to send your pastor to world-class preaching conferences and to an educational trip to Israel or Greece. Hire a quality worship director who understands your culture before you employ a youth director or a generalist associate pastor. Next hire a business administrator to free the ministers to do ministry.
5. Multiple Services: Don’t take anything away from people. Start something new. Recruit a critical mass of folks to help you get the service going that burns on your heart and hit it with everything you have!
6. Communication: Document every statistically positive sign your church shows. Get your people to believe they are a growing church and then they will think and act like a growing church. Make your monthly newsletter a point of celebration.
7. Evangelize: The key to growth is reaching people on Profession of Faith. Equip your members to invite their friends and neighbors. Churches must rediscover evangelism and do it unapologetically if they are to grow.
It is my hope that these strategies that helped us break the 400 barrier will help you as well!
Rev. Shane L. Bishop is the Senior Pastor at Christ Church in Fairview Heights, Illilnois