Some churches grow but many do not. To the casual outside observer, it would appear that both growing and non-growing churches are applying the same church growth strategies. The church growth strategies employed by the fastest growing churches in the US work in every possible demographic if applied. The problem occurs when churches that are dying believe they are doing the same things as the growing churches in their communities when they aren’t.
What are rapidly growing churches doing that plateaued aren’t doing? What are the church growth strategies that they are embracing and practicing? How can churches sit just a few miles apart that seem so similar be so different in regards to growth? Same demographics, basically the same ministries, same worship times, same, same and same except for one major difference. One church is in decline while the other is sky-rocketing in growth, enthusiasm, and momentum.
Honestly, what could possibly be the difference? Almost everything seems exactly the same but there is obviously something different. What church growth strategies that make this big of a difference?
New York Yankees & Church Growth Strategies
The World Series is the annual championship series of Major League Baseball (MLB). The first World Series was played in 1903 and each year the winner of the world series is crowned as baseballs best professional team. A total of 113 World Series have been contested, with the NL champion winning 48 and the AL champion winning 65.
Of the 113 World Series, the New York Yankees have won a total of 27 championships with their nearest competitor only winning 11. Like church growth, it looks like all the other teams are doing the exact same things the Yankees are doing but obviously, they aren’t.
The New York Yankees are known for their winning culture, farm system, DNA and their great pitching. For over a century players like Yogi Berra, Derek Jeter, Mickey Mantle, Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth, and Joe Dimaggio have all come and gone but the Yankee’s winning ways continue on.
Winning Culture- If you have ever watched the Yankees play there is something about their winning swagger. I am not a big baseball fan really but when I have watched the Yankees play I have noticed that they expect to win every game they play.
Farm System- The Yankees can find talent that most overlook and when they discover a talent that they need they go and get that talent. The Yankees identify, recruit, develop and release better than any other team in the MLB.
DNA- The Bronx Bombers, The Pinstripers or The Yanks have a winning DNA that attacks the best players and brings out the best from their roster. Not taking shortcuts, attention to detail and believing they will always win are distinctives the Yankees embrace proudly.
Great Pitching- The Yankees understand that pitching wins pennants. The Yankees know their greatest priority is to have the greatest pitchers in the world on their roster. Their entire organization gets that pitching is THE priority and the foundation of everything else that they do.
The four distinctives above are also true for any winning team whether it is sports or business. Pastors that embrace effective church growth strategies are like the leaders of the Yankees organization.
5 Effective Church Growth Strategies
- Simple, Biblical & Reproducible- The most effective church growth strategies are the ones that are simple, biblical and reproducible. The multiplying principles of the New Testament were affordable and effective. The disciples weren’t bankrolling the expansion of the gospel through financial means. Their strategies worked despite their limited resources and severe persecution. Teaching your church members to pray for the lost and how to have gospel conversations doesn’t cost a dime.
- Movement- Many churches have small visions that do not capture the hearts of those they lead. Jesus gave his disciples an enormous vision to take the gospel to the entire world. This vision led to a worldwide movement. Churches that are simply trying to bump their number up a few percentage points usually don’t. Churches that are looking to build a multiplying discipleship movement have an entirely different mentality. Family Church in West Palm Beach is a church that has a GINORMOUS VISION. This vision has helped shape a culture that has made a huge difference in their church growth strategies. Listen to how Family Church has created an Air War, Ground War strategy to move their church forward.
- Leadership Pipeline- No other organization should be developing leaders like the church. There really should not be a close second to the churches ability to identify, recruit, train and release leaders. The church that takes leadership training serious will be a growing church. The church that doesn’t have a ready-made bench of potential leaders is in big trouble. Multiplication and growth are not sustainable without more leaders trained and ready to put on the field.
- A Heart For The Lost And Discipleship- The mission of Jesus was to seek and save the lost. The mission that Jesus gave to his disciples was also a mission of reconciling the lost to him. Jesus trained his disciples to make disciples as he had discipled them. The explosion of this mission is recorded in the book of Acts as perhaps the greatest multiplying movement that the world has ever seen. As the disciples and other believers in the New Testament went to new cities to share the good news there were zero Christians so their mission began with sharing the gospel with those that did not know Jesus and that had not repented and believed the gospel. The most effective church growth strategies have always begun with a focus on those far from God. The fastest growing churches in the US are reaching the lost for Christ and welcoming them to their churches through their church websites.
- Celebrate Wins- It is hard for churches to celebrate wins for some reason. At the end of a sporting event, you always know who the winners are by the way they celebrate. For some strange reason, it isn’t the same for churches but the Pastors and leaders must find ways to celebrate victories. Celebrating wins reminds everyone on the team, “This is important.” It is true that people replicate what they celebrate. Effective church growth strategies will be best seen in church cultures that celebrate frequently.