How to Grow Your Church Just to Stay Even.

Note from a pastor in one of the pastor forums online.

For a few years now I have had to grow (which we’ve seen quite a bit of of late) just to maintain. ABC Church skyrocketed in the first 3 1/2 years to regular attendance dancing on either side of 100 and today, 2 1/2 years later were at the exact same place numerically. I heard a sermon XXXX preached recently to a preachers’ gathering and he said that earlier this year he had a mass exodus from his church (implied that someone took a bunch of folk and started another church without his endorsement). My home church, XYZ Church was probably clicking at 1200 per Sunday 5 years ago and today they probably average 800 (guesses on my part). I was at Pastor EFG’s church preaching not too long ago which is my wife’s home church and I guess they’ve gone from 750 in attendance to probably 400 over the last 5 years. We have the smaller churches like mine struggling to see the north pointing numeric arrow, and the larger churches working hard to keep the south pointing attendance arrow from doing too much damage. I’ve been around the block long enough to know that there is so much more to what we do than attendance, but we do have to grow – at least I think we do.

So my question for you is quite simple, let me know the churches that are staying true to the stuff who are genuinely growing, especially by new converts and not simply cause a church across town went liberal. What are you doing right now to add growth to your church? {we, as a movement were obsessed with growth in the last generation and it seems like the pendulum has swung to apathetic toward it, methinks we need a balance somewhere in the middle}

My response:

Pastor ABC, it is so exciting to see your hunger. Our church is a church plant and just celebrated 10 years last Sunday. We have pushed the envelope in many ways, but have tried to maintain that balance of growth the staying fundamentally sound. We have quite a few folks who are following our journey and are subscribers and regular readers at I also have a YouTube channel simply called “ReachKeep”. There are plenty of resource there to help. Please check it out.

A few of the simple things we do are:

#1 Focus on Reaching Young Families-our programatic stuff all aims towards parent of elementary aged kids.

#2 Create a healthy and growing atmosphere for Sunday morning that stimulates our church people to bring their friends/coworkers/neighbors. (we do very little door-to-door, etc… yet people keep bringing their friends and having them saved on Sundays or in scheduled private meetings with me.)

#3 Push a development-based program. Everything we do is aimed at moving people from A to B. I often do a ten minute parenting seminars between our two morning services, I regularly do a ten minute live demo on how to use a smartphone in church and how to download the Bible apps, we run special “directed” Sunday p.m. services for parents only, teens only, married couples only, parents along with elementary aged kids only, addiction cases only, etc…

#4 Run a trim well executed Sunday a.m service. We do Sunday School during church and then flip it and do everything twice. The results is, we get a highly concentrated event for new guests and a boatload of workers to help in variety of areas. We have no music program or choirs, no piano, no specials and no offertories. We sing usually one hymn in the beginning and maybe a chorus before the message. We play self-made movies of recent teen and kids events accompanied by godly music, I lead a cappella invitation songs or play soft piano digitally.

There is much more that is part of our “formula” but it would be hard to get it all in on one post. I’d be happy to chat at any time with any of the you Steamers about what working and what’s not. Here is a link to get you going on one of our core internal practices-Valuing Lifelong Relationship- WALMART COMMUNITY CHURCH

Sometimes it is difficult just to “stay even” numerically. People move so often. Jobs change. Families relocate. Ugh! It seems hard to grow a church in this day and age, much less just keep attendance “even”. There is obviously so much more that can be done to grow a church. If you are in the situation like the pastor above, please dig in and focus on some of the tips I listed. If you’d like more details and step-by-step instructions for creating a flourishing church, please keep you eyes open for our enrollment period of our flagship training course called Reaching Young Families through the Local Church. We will be opening it soon for fall enrollment.

Thanks for taking time to grow!


P.S. If you have any questions about growing a church in a rural setting, please send me a note. I’d love to hear your needs!

Contact info:

ReachKeep Connecting Points:

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Mike Holmes

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