What Doesn’t Work

There are many things that are good in themselves but, generally speaking, do not contribute to the growth of your church if the key elements are missing.

Insufficient Engines for Growth

Here are some concepts you are going to read in contemporary books. They aren’t all wrong, but they miss the bullseye, and some even hit the wall, not the target. Maybe you have tried some of these.

These issues taken as a sufficient means of growing a church will not hit the bullseye. They aren’t totally unimportant or irrelevant. They are not of first importance given the needs of current Western culture. Here are three things you most likely have already. And you can always do better with each of them.

1. Better preaching/teaching

Something is wrong if you are talking in an echo chamber and people aren’t changing. But finding or becoming a better preacher won’t help if they don’t listen. The further you get into the details of theological discussions, the more you bear the risk of tuning regular folks out.

2. Different or better music

Good music inspires. But unchurched people won’t measure your church by its music. Have you ever considered how many church musicians it takes to draw a crowd? Too few new people will come in because they hear you have music that rivals what they already listen to. Make no mistake about it: music can stir the heart and open filters to receive the message. But there are so many different kinds of music. Whichever one you choose will miss the mark for at least one population segment. Keep about 80% of your music in the genre of what the majority prefers. Just do it as best you can. You can experiment with the other 20% of musical styles without driving people away. So, how would you know what the people on the inside currently prefer? Ask them. Do a survey and see what you get. Outsiders have bigger concerns about their potential engagement with your church than the type of music you use.

3. New or improved programs

New or improved programs aren’t bad. But it takes so much effort to start something new. You will improve your results pound for pound and dollar for dollar with more emphasis on other key factors.

In fact, these three elements will likely improve without much extra effort if you see them as important and essential for new people once they arrive. But there is almost no chance these things will bring new people by themselves. They will matter to get new people returning over and over. Don’t misunderstand. Many things matter: how you handle children and youth matters, where you meet matters. Even advertising matters.

The key issue is that you must first concentrate on a few changeable things. Your church will grow if you find the correct things to do differently. If you can inspire 10-20% of your church to adopt a few key changes, your church will grow if people are living within a convenient distance of where you meet.

Concentrate on a few key elements and illustrations to hit your stride. You must learn to simplify things. Put the cookies on the bottom shelf where ordinary folks can get at them. Save your pursuit of deeper things for your private musings, and be sure you have a clear, simple message for your church. Save your pursuit of the next flavor-of-the-month method back to basics.