It’s no secret the number of people who attend church has been decreasing over the past several years. According to a survey taken by Statista in 2018, only 22% of Americans attend weekly church services. Furthermore, the survey found that 28% of the population never go to church. These statistics are alarming for church officials because church growth is a necessity for the overall health of a church. Discover signs your church is dying — and effective church growth strategies from the Center For Healthy Churches for growing your congregation and keeping your church alive.
What Are the Signs of a Dying Church?
Before you can start implementing methods to help your church grow, knowing what a dying church looks like is vital to making the best choices for your church. How can you tell whether if church is dying ? Keep an eye out for these warning signs, so you can take action if you notice them occurring. The signs of a dying church include:
- Change is nearly always met with resistance.
- The congregation mostly consists of senior adults.
- The church does not mirror the community in which it is located.
- The church’s focus is on the past instead of the future.
- Attendance and engagement is steadily declining.
What Is the Meaning of Church Growth?
There is no magic button for growing your congregation overnight. Furthermore, the size of your congregation is not the only indicator of church growth, many churches find there are as many opportunities to grow deeper as there are to grow wider. You probably need to consider both. Knowing how to grow your congregation is about more than the numbers alone: Church growth is about reaching more people, getting involved in the community, and getting the community involved with you.
Growing Your Congregation: Effective Church Growth Strategies
If you have noticed less and less people are attending your services or engaged in the life of the church, you may begin asking yourself tough questions:
- How can we increase our church attendance?
- How do we attract new members to our church?
- What are the best methods for how to grow our congregation?
- How can we better engage with our community?
- What are the most effective church growth strategies?
The ways to grow your church are many and varied. Different communities may respond more positively to some methods, while other areas may find different options more effective. We have compiled a list of some of the most generally effective church growth strategies for growing your congregation, boosting attendance, impacting your community and bringing in newcomers. The best part about these particular strategies is that they require very little in the way of special skills or upfront investments.
1. Decide Growth Is What You Really Want
While this step may seem counter-intuitive, you must decide church growth is your true desire before moving forward. Without the motivation for consistent implementation, you just will not get the results you want.
This means you need to make sure not just the leaders of your church but the people already in your congregation are on board for a transformation. Members must be open to accepting changes and to letting ineffective traditions die. Growing your congregation – deeper and wider – requires everyone to be involved. It must become a compelling missional vision. If the pastor and a few others are the only people willing to be part of the process, you are looking at a challenging, uphill climb.
2. Adopt a Mission Statement with Church Growth as a Priority
A mission statement (you can check out CHC’s here!) is important to any organization. It helps a group recognize and work toward a common goal. If growing your congregation is your priority, making it part of your mission statement is vital to your success. Everyone should have a chance to know what direction the church is going in. Coaching from an outside organization like The Center for Healthy Churches can help you develop your mission and vision and figure out how you intend to reach your goals.
3. Welcome Newcomers
Let’s talk about how you can increase church attendance and engagement. One sure way is to have a plan for welcoming visitors into your church. You want to do absolutely everything in your power to make them feel welcome. An inviting website primarily designed for guests, a warm and inviting space and entry process, and a thoughtful church greeting team are three great ways to make occasional visitors or newcomers feel welcomed. When people feel welcome, they are more apt to come back and to tell others about your church.
Remember that the welcome wagon comes with a caveat. You must also remember that not everyone wants a ton of attention. New members are always there in search of God, but they are not always in search of an overwhelming amount of new friendships. You do not want to develop a reputation for making visitors feel overcome with greetings. Make sure your welcome team is providing a positive, polite, and warm experience… not an uncomfortable or intrusive one.
4. Get Online and Use Social Media
A lot of churches spend more time on their external signage than on their online presence. Sure a clever sign catches attention, but it only catches the attention of people passing it. This is the technology age — not making use of what is effectively free advertising to a much broader audience is a serious mistake! Most people will see your website before they ever think about setting foot inside your facilities. A website that is tired-looking, out of date, rarely used, or nonexistent is sure to raise the question of whether your church is even worth visiting.
Creating social media accounts for your church is a very effective church growth strategy. Most people use social media these days, so it is a great (free!) way to promote your church. A social media page allows you to create events for what is going on at your church, invite people to those events, and post pictures. Pictures might be of:
- Church leaders,
- Key congregation members, and
- Even the church itself.
Social media can also be used to share videos and live-stream sermons to give people a sneak peek of what to expect if they were to visit. This gives people a “free sample” of what you have to offer and may attract new members into your church’s circle of influence.
5. Focus on Community Engagement
Community engagement is an excellent way to build relationships and let people in the community know that your church exists. This can be done through service-oriented projects or community events, which will build trust and let people know you are there for them.
Many events like this can be done on a very low budget. Organize a roadside trash pick up. Arrange pen pals for nursing home residents. Create a dinner event at the church. Adopt a local school. Provide clean-up services for neighbors. All of these are ways you can engage with your community. Remember to advertise and share all of this on your social media!
6. Make Time for the Younger Congregation
One of the biggest draws to a church is the role it can play in children’s lives. Vacation bible schools, youth groups, and even mini-events on weekends that attract a wide variety of diverse backgrounds can be done well and without breaking the bank.
Rather than assume you know what the parents in your community want, ask them. You will probably find that some of your gifts and assets are well-suited to respond to their needs.
When children, youth and their families enjoy the ministries and youth services provided by your church, this can bring in parents who may have lost touch with church or never set foot in one before. You can really appeal to families when they are assured of your ability to look after, love, and minister their children.
Implementing the first six effective church growth strategies can create a strong foundation for your church to learn how to grow your congregation. However, none of it is possible without prayer. In all your efforts for church growth, of paramount importance is remembering you are building God’s church. You will only be fruitful with God’s blessing. Encourage congregation members to pray individually, and create prayer groups for brainstorming when that prayer provides God’s inspiration.
Let Us Help You Grow
At the Center for Healthy Churches, we know growing your congregation is essential to maintaining the health of your church and keeping it alive. To learn how the Center can help your church thrive, contact us online or call at (336) 970-3578 to schedule a consultation today!