How to Increase Your Reach by Narrowing Your Focus

This is Part 7 (and the last) of a blog series on Creating Continuous Growth in Your Church.

SERIES SUMMARY:

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 fifth ingredient:

Ingredient 6: MAINTAINING A CLEAR FOCUS

In this last post, we are going to evaluate the most simple, yet counterintuitive ingredient to creating a continuously growing church.

Here’s our starting place: Logically, the more we offer at our church, the more needs we can meet. The more ministry we provide, the more people we will attract. If we offer Upward Sports, we can attract the recreation crowd. If we offer VBS, we’ll reach children outside of Sunday. If we have a Men’s ministry, we’ll get more guys to eat pancakes and pray together. If we offer Women’s ministry, we’ll give ladies a place to belong and do life together. We have to offer Sunday School, because, well, we’re a church! We need softball and basketball teams for adults, because where else will men recreate? And we have those fields out back, too. We should probably have a food pantry and clothes closet, because people in our community are in need and we are a church. Maybe a homeless shelter? And we should also have a school — and not just a preschool, but a real school.

That’s all well and good. It’s even logical. Some would say strategic, and most would say it’s church.

But here’s the counter to counterintuitive: It’s crazy complicated to offer countless ministries and programs. We would all agree making our church more complicated and complex does not necessarily equal more effective. It certainly doesn’t guarantee more people. Complication spreads our leadership too thin. It spreads our effectiveness too thin. It spreads our resources too thin. It happens subtly over time, often without us even noticing. Before we know it, though, our church is burdened with more than can be done well, and our reach and effectiveness will be hampered as a result.

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The Keystone Habit That Creates Continuous Church Growth

This is Part 4 of a blog series on Creating Continuous Growth in Your Church.

SERIES SUMMARY:

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.

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5 Ways to Better Understand Your Unchurched Community

This is Part 3 of a blog series on Creating Continuous Growth in Your Church.

SERIES SUMMARY:

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.

I’d like to ask a better question: 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 wall 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 discovered 6 specific ingredients to create continuous growth in your church. In this post, we are going to look at the second ingredient:

Ingredient 2: KNOWING YOUR TARGET MARKET.

I spent a decade in the marketplace before transitioning into ministry. Most of those years were spent in marketing, specifically working with companies to better acquire new customers and increase the frequency of visits and/or purchases from current customers. As a business, that is how you increase revenue. It’s fundamental.

In the church, the same premise is true. We can grow attendance by reaching new people or increasing the frequency of our current attendees. The latter would make numbers look better and probably help each individual spiritually grow, but the Kingdom would not grow. And capital “K” Kingdom growth, not simply my church growth, is the real goal.

Therefore, to state the obvious, growth through sheep stealing is not good growth. If people leave another church to attend our church, the Kingdom does not win.

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6 Ingredients to Create 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.

If that is true, then breaking through barriers is important. But, 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 wall 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.

Part 1: The 6 Ingredients to Barrier-Proof Your Church:

Have you ever been stalled by a growth barrier?

There are few things church leaders face more frustrating than being stuck at a number—any number!

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6 Opportunities a Portable Church Provides (Discovering Permanent Success in a Portable Church, Part 2)

AT A GLANCE…

Read this if…
You are a church leader or church attender in a portable church environment.

This post in one sentence…
If we can see through the challenges of portable church, we can discover the many opportunities portable provides.


As a church leader, I’ve spent the better part of my professional Christian life in portable church. I’ve learned a lot, made some mistakes, found some advantages, and experience success without a building. In the previous post, we talked about portable church challenges. But there are also opportunities, and ways to succeed.

Let’s look at some portable church opportunities now, and then we can evaluate how to succeed as a portable church in the next post.


LOVING YOUR PORTABLE CHURCH

When you are in the midst of set up and tear down every week, it’s easy to forget there are advantages and opportunities that come with the territory. They are not readily evident at 5:30 a.m. when trailers are being delivered or at 3:00 p.m. Sunday afternoon as the tear down process concludes, but they are there. And when we look close enough, they become evident.

Like most difficulties in life, though, the frustrations and challenges of portable church can mentally and physically outweigh the opportunities portable provides. So before you get too frustrated with your portable challenges, consider these opportunities:

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How to Reach the Unchurched Right Now.

How can your church reach unchurched people right now?

That question is mission-critical as a church.

It stands to reason investigating churches already finding success with unchurched people would be a great start. After all, if they have cracked the code, we can just borrow the combination. So most church leaders set off to investigate and learn from the best. We attend services at other churches. We go to conferences. We go to more conferences. We read books. We read more books. We network our way into mentoring relationships with leaders we respect.

An in our investigations, we inevitably see massive production in church services. We experience the GREAT preaching. We take copious notes at each conference. Then we return to our church, under our leadership, with our resources, with our staff… and reality sets in. We think: “If I can’t do what they do, I’ll never reach who they reach.

And therein lies the issue with our investigation and learning exercises. Of course, learning from other successful churches is helpful and we should all prioritize learning from others, but relatively speaking, the only successful churches reaching the unchurched community we know about are mega-churches. We can study mega-churches all we want, but without the resources, leadership, and staff of a mega-church, replicating their execution is impossible.

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What I Learned Watching Ferguson.

What can Christians learn from the events in Ferguson?

Not necessarily politically or even racially, but with the Kingdom in mind, what can be learned?

Like many of you, I found myself last Monday night watching the grand jury verdict and the ensuing demonstrations (both peaceful and violent). I’m pretty sure the media was the only winner. There was little middle ground to be found. There was, however, much division. Where there is no middle ground, landmines always abound.

In the death of Michael Brown, I don’t pretend to know the details. The vast majority of us don’t, either. So as I searched for #Ferguson tweets while watching CNN’s coverage, I pondered what could be learned from this moment. Primarily as a Christian, what does this event teach us? Considering God’s concern for humanity — God’s desire to see all men know to Him — what should we learn?

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Should Church Be Entertaining?

Is your church entertaining?

If you answered yes, I’m guessing you have received your fair share of criticism. Not from the unchurched, nonbelievers in your community mind you, but from Christians and other churches. For some reason, many Christians and church leaders have bought into the belief that religion must be boring. That church can’t be fun. I guess we’ve associated boring to reverent. Hyper-serious to “spiritual.” Enjoyment has become a line in the religious sand. If you have fun in a religious service, it’s not really religious, and God can’t be pleased, right?

I partially understand. As Christians, we take God seriously. We take His church seriously. Most things we take seriously come with a certain level of seriousness (nobody wrote that down, I’m guessing). It makes sense.

But boring is not biblical. It’s not a matter of truth. It’s just how we’ve positioned ourselves as the church. It’s how we’ve positioned religion.

Here’s my question: Can a church be entertaining without becoming entertainment? There is a difference. Entertainment serves one point: Enjoyment. But entertaining is different. Entertaining is enjoyment with purpose. Enjoyment with a strategy.

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Tip 8. FOR People – All People (Shutting The Back Door in Your Church, Blog Series)

In this blog series, I’ve identified 9 tips to help keep people from leaving your church (i.e., shutting the back door). I believe all 9 are important. In this post, I’ll address tip number eight:

TIP 8. Be a church FOR people – all people.

Who is your church for?

Not theological. But practically, who is your church for?

I know what all us church leaders would say, but what if you asked people in your community? What if you asked the unchurched in your neighborhood or workplace? What if you asked the golfers teeing off on Sunday mornings?

When we get outside of our church bubble, we quickly discover the rest of the world sees the church differently. They see judgmental, homophobic, and hypocritical. They associate, for good reason, the gathering of Christians with their bad Christian experiences and an angry God.

Unfortunately, people are more familiar with what the church is AGAINST than what we are FOR. For good reason, too. Think of all the things Christians have boycotted: Disney, JC Penney, Lowes, Home Depot, UPS, PBS, Oreos, Muppets, Cheerios, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts. Cabbage Patch Dolls. Barbie. World Vision… The list goes on and on.

Now some of these boycotts might be warranted. Some might be even necessary. But from the outside looking in, the brand of Christianity is marked by the word “against.” That’s regrettable, because when we open the pages of Scripture, we see a God FOR people. A loving God who has been pursuing people their entire life. A God that is so for people that he allowed his Son to die for them. It makes me believe if God is for people, His church should be known in the same way.

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Tip 6. Effective Discipleship (Shutting The Back Door in Your Church, Blog Series)

In this blog series, I’ve identified 9 tips to help keep people from leaving your church (i.e., shutting the back door). I believe all 9 are important. In this post, I’ll address tip number six:

TIP 6. Effective Discipleship.

What’s your discipleship strategy?

Hopefully you’re not stumped by the question. If so, you’ll definitely want to read on!

This question is one of a few that must be answered by every church. It’s one of the primary reasons we EXIST as a church. It goes back to that whole “go and make disciples” bit from Jesus!

Within the context of this blog series, we would say evangelism brings people into the church, but discipleship is what grows their faith. Beyond spiritual growth, however, discipleship plays a big part in keeping people at your church (i.e., shutting the back door).

Lack of effective discipleship is one of the primary reasons people church hop. We hear excuses like, “I’m not being fed,” which is often a cop-out, but behind that excuse is often a discipleship system issue.

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