Almost every church leader would tell you they want their church to be a growing church - not just in terms of spiritual growth, but numerical growth. Such growth matters because it represents people, and people matter to God. The early church was noted and celebrated for its numerical growth (Acts 2:47), and the Great Commission from Jesus is one great big marching order to go out and reach as many people as possible (Matthew 28:18-20).
But not many are growing, and many of the leaders do not seem to know why.
Here are fifteen questions that are meant to prod and probe. They are taken from a larger questionnaire I recently prepared for our staff that covered six key areas related to church growth: prayer, member/attender participation with the mission, communications, guest services, the weekend experience itself, and assimilation.
We graded our response to each question on a scale from one to five, with one being "never" and five being "always." Any area we gave ourselves less than a "four" was flagged as a high concern in terms of effectively fulfilling our mission.
See how you do:
1. You and/or your team regularly pray for the church and your ministry in the church to grow numerically.
2. You are able to pray for unchurched people by name.
3. Members and attenders regularly invite their friends to attend weekend services.
4. There is a high "buzz" factor. Members and attenders regularly talk about the church to others like they would a good movie, restaurant or vacation spot.
5. Members and attenders believe our weekend services would "win" their friends if they could only get them here.
6. There is a powerful synergy created through appropriate marketing and promotion that makes inviting friends an easy task.
7. Our website is an impressive and effective "front door," constantly updated and user-friendly.
8. Our campus is a warm and welcoming environment from the minute you drive on to the campus until the moment you take your seat.
9. A first-time guest would know exactly which entrance to approach, where to take their kids, where to get information, and where to enter the auditorium.
10. The music is well-performed and well-led.
11. The style of the service, including music, media and message, is culturally current in ways that allow first-time guests to optimally engage the experience.
12. The messages are relevant, engaging, and practical (let's assume that they are already biblical).
13. The children's ministry is a positive experience for both children and their parents, in terms of safety, education, and fun.
14. If you are a new attender, it is easy to meet people and foster new relationships.
15. Our follow-up process to a "surfaced" new attender, whether through first-time donation, first-time children's ministry registration, or information card, is prompt, effective, warm and impressive.
Did any of the questions surface an area for improvement? They sure did for us.
Will there be another set of questions to follow up?
And here's the first one:
What are we going to do about it?
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About Dr. James Emery White
James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, North Carolina; President of Serious Times, a ministry which explores the intersection of faith and culture (www.serioustimes.org); and ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture on the Charlotte campus of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Dr. White holds the B.S., M.Div. and Ph.D. degrees, along with additional work at Vanderbilt University and Oxford University. He is the author of over a dozen books.
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