Like most of you reading this, I love to see church’s grow and reach people for Jesus Christ. I have benefited from the writings and research of Charles Arn on this subject. Recently he wrote an article called, “Why Churches Don’t Grow” for Building Church Leaders network.
He lists five reasons but really there are no good reasons because healthy churches grow. Arn writes, “God wants your church to grow. He created it to grow. Sometimes it’s just a matter of finding out why it’s not growing, and removing those obstacles.”
In last week’s blog we dealt with the first two of his five reasons: Growth-restricting obstacle #1: The Pastor.
Growth-restricting obstacle #2: The church members.
Now let’s look at the other three.
Growth-restricting obstacle #3: Perceived irrelevance.
“Growing churches start with the issues and concerns of the people in their community, and then relate the gospel to those points of need. Stagnant churches are seen by the un-churched as having an irrelevant message to their life.”
Have we become irrelevant to our communities? If your church vanished next week, would your community even take notice? The problem is not our message. The Gospel is relevant but sometimes our vehicle to share that message is out of date and out of gas. Has your church recently started with the issues and concerns in your community and then developed a strategy to address those needs?
Growth-restricting obstacle #4: Using the wrong methods.
“Any farmer knows you can’t harvest ripe wheat with a corn-picker. Using inappropriate methods can be worse than no methods, since they create resistance to the gospel. A bullhorn on a street corner, tracts in an urban neighborhood, youth outreach in a senior adult community…none of these methods are wrong. But they are inappropriate for the harvest field.”
We often find ourselves going back to what use to work in church life or what another church did across town and failing to let the Holy Spirit breath in to us some fresh ideas for our context.
Don’t be afraid to try new things. Some of them will work! I have served seven churches in three different states and each one reached people with different methods. They were all different in their approach to doing church.
Growth-restricting obstacle #5: No plan for assimilation.
“Over 80 percent of those who drop out of church do so in the first year of their membership. A new member does not automatically become an active member without an intentional plan by the church on how to assimilate them into a caring, loving, Christian community.”
This is a sad component. Most churches I consult do not have a well designed strategy to help new members get involved. It’s as if they are totally on their own to find out what the church is all about and how to get involved. New member classes, quickly connecting people together by affinity and constant contact are keys to assimilate people. If your new members do not make friends in the first six months after they join they will usually drop out. Relationships are the glue that help people stick! Check out some of my earlier blogs on assimilation.
Keep the Son in your eyes,