Why do some churches grow, and others don’t? How can it be that a really good church – one that offers great preaching, musically excellent worship, and fantastic kids’ programs – just kind of hovers around the same attendance each week, and isn’t seeing new people come through the door?
Straight from the desk of our Director of the Obvious, here are three things that lead to church growth:
- Transcendent experiences worth talking about;
- High value connections between people (“high value” = the connection is worth the effort it takes to make happen);
- A simple, seamless pathway for new people within your target demographic to become engaged with your church.
These are all completely subjective, of course. What’s transcendent to one person is off-putting to another. Some people are looking for deep, meaningful relationships the minute they walk in your door, while others are just testing the waters and don’t want to talk to anyone. Some people will refuse to take one of your carefully-considered Next Steps no matter how sweet or compelling your offer.
Odds are, the people creating those experiences, in charge of your small groups, and crafting your next steps pathway are pretty sure they are transcendent, transformative, and compelling. They might be under the impression that if you aren’t growing, it’s simply because enough people aren’t being told about those great things that you offer.
This happens in the marketplace all the time. It’s an age-old tension between the marketing side of the organization and the product/service side, and it goes something like this:
Marketing: “If the product teams just listened to their target audience a little more, they’d make something that we don’t have to work so hard to explain.”
Product: “If marketing would just tell the right people about our clearly awesome product, we’d sell more stuff.”
It’s an unhelpful blame game that’s led to the demise of a lot of great organizations. And it’s the same blame game that happens in churches everywhere.
Your church’s leadership wants more/better marketing from their Communications team, and the Communications team wants church leadership to help create experiences that will resonate better with their target market.
Church communicators: if you’re feeling this tension, you have to speak into it.
Start with measurement. No matter how valid or accurate your opinion is (it’s alway valid and accurate, right?), it’s no substitute for the perspective offered by good metrics.
How many people are having a transcendent experience on Sunday that’s worth talking about? How many people are sharing your content on social media? How many of your visitor connection cards have “A friend invited me” checked off?
How many people are joining groups each week, each month?
How many people are signing up to serve, or giving, or attending a newcomers event?
Start with a good, clear look at your data, and let that speak into the ministry activity that your church is generating.