If You Want Your Church To Grow...

So I met with an accountant this morning.

Nice guy. Sounds like he knows what he's doing.

Before I walked in, I put out a quick message on Periscope.

I called it 'One Solution For Churches That Want To Grow.'

I would link it, but Periscope replays are only available for about 24 hours.

Plus, I rambled a bit.

So I thought I'd jump on here and nail this down.

What Do People Love About Your Church?

I was on a coaching call with a pastor whose church has about 100 people.

An opportunity had come up to merge with a much larger church in their denomination.

And the leadership of the 100-person church was split over what to do.

So I asked him to list five things that people love about his church.

Not scientific research.

I just wanted to hear what that church is good at.

And if you want your church to grow, I'd encourage you to do the same thing.

Stop reading this and write down five things that people love about your church.

Use paper. A napkin. A whiteboard. Evernote. Whatever.

Focus On What You Do Best

Now that you have your list of 5 things that people love about your church, I want you to circle the one thing that your church does better than anything else.

Listing and circling is exactly what I had this pastor do on our call. 

Wanna know what he said?

'People like my preaching.

And they love our services.

We do a good job in helping out at the local food bank.

And we're financially stable.

But what the people who really love our church love most about our church is this...

We really do believe and act like we're a family.

That's what we do best. We operate like a spiritual family.'

Here's How Your Church Grows

Now, look, my guess is that most churches - especially smaller churches - think they're really good at being a family.

And there is absolutely more to being a church than just being relationally tight with each other.

So don't confuse the principle with the practice.

For the 100-person church, the practice is 'filter everything through the practice and language of family.'

But the principle - and this is critical for them and you - is that 80% of your growth will come from 20% of what you do.

Or to put it another way.

If you want your church to grow, then focus your efforts on what you're already doing well.

That 80/20 rule - based on what economists call the Pareto Principle - reminds us that we grow where we are strong.

But What About...?

Whenever I have this conversation with churches, I know resistance is coming.

Won't focusing on our strengths create pride?

Don't we have to do things that we're not good at if we want to grow?

Let's acknowledge, first of all, that the most basic reason churches grow is because of a movement of God.

And let's also recognize that healthy churches are comprehensively responsible.

We disciple even if we're not great at disciple making.

We develop leaders even if we're not great at developing leaders.

We are financially responsible even if we don't have a lot of money.

We reach outside of our church even if we're not very outgoing.

But rather than focusing all of our energy and angst at the stuff we're not good at.

What if we spent most of our time, money and energy on cultivating what we're already doing very well?

Imagine What This Does For You

You get to build on the work that God has already done.

You get to be the church you already are, instead of thinking you have to become something else to be 'successful.'

You make decisions based on how this helps your church emphasize its strengths or leverage its weaknesses.

Wanna Have Some Fun?

At your next leadership meeting, have everyone write down five things people love about your church. 

Write down everyone's answer on a whiteboard.

Group those answers into 5-10 categories.

Have the group determine the 1-2 things that people love most about your church.

Circle those 1-2 areas of strength.

Erase everything else off the whiteboard.

Point to those 1-2 areas and tell everyone (in your most inspirational voice), 'If we want our church to grow, this is what we emphasize. Any questions?'

Then lead a discussion about how that emphasis plays out in the life of your church.

80% of your value comes from 20% of your work.

What you do best is the way your church will grow.

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