This is Part 4 of a blog series on Creating Continuous Growth in Your Church.
Every church leader facing a growth barrier desperately wants to break through, because every church leader, including me, desires a growing, thriving church. Not because church attendance is the only measure of success, but because increasing attendance is proof that people are being reached.
Here is a question I’ve begun to ask: What if instead of just breaking through a specific barrier we were able to barrier-proof our church? Pause for a moment and imagine never hitting a growth barrier again.
I believe barrier-proofing is possible for every church in any denomination, and that’s exactly what we are going to evaluate in this blog series.
I have uncovered 6 specific ingredients to create continuous growth in your church. In this post, we are going to look at the third ingredient:
Ingredient 3: SELECT THE RIGHT KEYSTONE HABIT
I came across the concept of “keystone habits” in Charles Duhigg’s book, “The Power of Habit.” I highly recommend it.
According to Duhigg: “Some habits matter more than others in remaking businesses and lives. These are ‘keystone habits,’ and they can influence how people work, eat, play, live, spend, and communicate. Keystone habits start a process that, over time, transforms everything.”
All organizations have keystone habits, which is significant to acknowledge, because habits always trump ideas or plans. As a church, like every other organization, we have keystone habits in place—most of us don’t know they exist. At best, we certainly have not been strategic in defining these habits to intentionally drive our mission and vision. In fact, if you are not experiencing the results you want, odds are your keystone habit is partially the culprit.
With that in mind, at Watermarke Church, we have strategically identified INVEST & INVITE as our keystone habit. We teach our church to invest in real relationships with those outside the church (not as projects or agendas, but as friends), and when the time is right, invite them to a church experience designed with guests in mind. Invest in relationships; invite to experience church.
Identifying invest & invite as our keystone habit keeps our vision (creating a church unchurched people love to attend) front and center. Obviously, pairing our vision with invest & invite presents a continuous opportunity for growth. The same could be said for every church.
That is exactly why invest & invite is the perfects keystone habit to create continuous church growth.
Not surprisingly, I believe invest & invite should be every church’s keystone habit. It simply provides too many advantages. Here are 4 specific reasons invest & invite might be the perfect keystone habit for barrier-proofing your church and creating continuous growth:
1. Keeps churches outwardly focused.
Every church faces the pull to become inwardly focused, because churches are planted, built, and funded by church people. It’s hard for a church to remain focused on reaching people when keeping people feels more important, but a focus on people retention induces a slow, painful death for the church. Not to mention it moves the church off mission to an extent.
At Watermarke, implementing invest & invite as a keystone habit keeps everyone, including the leadership, focused on our vision. Just to say it again, if everyone is focused on investing in relationships outside the church and inviting these friends to church when the time is right, lack of seats will be our biggest church problem, and our organization will remain focused on reaching people, not keeping people.
2. Keeps people outwardly focused.
Consumerism is a reality of our culture. We live in a “what’s in it for me” world. Since this mentality is not going away, we as the church must find ways to push against the consumeristic aspects of culture while leveraging it’s natural instinct. It’s a delicate balance. When nearly every aspect of life is teaching people everything is meant for their consumption, the gospel and the church can stand in stark contrast. That’s healthy and difficult to navigate.
Invest & invite as a keystone habit allows us to push our church people to think beyond consuming from the church. It helps keep both our organization and individuals in the organization focused on others. Invest & invite by nature is other’s focused. Overtime, it can move people to being greater contributors of their time and resources.
Not to oversell it, but invest & invite can begin a process of participation in the church. It can lead to volunteering, giving, and even serves to bolster spiritual growth.
3. Ensures we design everything with guests in mind.
Next, if everyone in our church is actively inviting guests, it ensures our leadership stays focused on creating great guest experiences. From our parking lot volunteers to our church services to our children’s and student environments, knowing every Sunday is somebody’s first Sunday keeps our focus narrow.
To be more specific, this keystone habit drives how we design services, recruit and train volunteers, budget resource, and hire staff. Actually, that’s just the tip of the iceberg, because a keystone habit drives everything.
4. Provides an easy trigger for our church attendees.
Every habit is based on a trigger—whether personal or organizational. In our church, we’ve taught people to listen for the “3 Nots” to trigger invest & invite. When we hear anyone say they are 1. NOT currently attending a church, 2. Things are NOT going well, or 3. Someone is NOT prepared for…, we all know the time is right for invest & invite. It’s an east trigger that drives an important habit—a habit that can keep a church continuously growing.
Every organization, including every church, has a keystone habit working for or against their intended mission. We can decide in advance what we desire the habit to be, or we can allow it to form and drive our church organically. The former allows us to strategically barrier-proof our church, while the latter will most likely lead us to become insider focused.
Maybe there is a better keystone habit for a church, but from where I sit and from what I’ve experienced, I can’t image any habit doing more good in and for the church than invest & invite.