There are always a lot of conversations that happen all the time in Churches amongst the staff that center around how they can grow in numbers. I have been on Church and Ministry staffs for over 20 years now and some of the common phrases I have heard or been apart of are, “if we do this event” or “if we brought in this speaker” or even “if more people would just like our Facebook page” we will get more people coming to our Church.
While some of those strategies can be effective, the bottom line is that I believe none of these strategies are as effective as one-on-one relationships. Personal invites from people who have relationships with others is such a powerful way to help people discover God AND grow your Church.
The problem is that personal invites don’t just naturally happen. As friendly as people are, it is still intimidating to invite friends to Church. Why? Because people have been burned by the Church or ministers in some way before or they have preconceived views of the Church that they hold on to. That is why the key to personal invites is that you have to train your church to be doing this. If you train people in the church how to meet new people at church, how to follow up with them relationally (not just a form letter) and how to personally invite their friends you can do it.
Here are some ideas that you can try to train your church to think relationally:
- Practice during Church. Meet and greets or saying “hi” to your neighbor during the service is awkward at times. But, it still provides someone an opportunity to meet someone new and say “hey” to someone who may be coming for the first time. Maybe you can have everyone answer a question like, “how long have you been coming to ___ Church?” or “when did you first come to _____ Church?”. As weird as they can be, do these times from time to time. It provides practice for people in your church to do this outside of church as well.
- Do training in Life Groups. Maybe you can find a curriculum or develop one internally where all the Life Groups in your church go through it about how to think relationally
- Disciple others. The more people in discipleship relationships the more likely more people are going to be personally invited to come to Church. And guess what? It starts with the ministers themselves. If the ministry leaders are discipling others and challenging those they are discipling to disciple others, then more people, over time, will be coming to Church.
- All the Above. Maybe all of these above items you can be doing in some form or another. Mix and match and see what works best for your ministry.
When we put all our eggs into the basket of doing more “things” or posting a Facebook ad and not investing more into relationships we will never experience sustainable growth. It will all be “fake” growth – growth that is contingent on “events” or “speakers”. They are not people who will stick around. They just won’t. They will go to the event and unless a friendship starts to develop at those events, they won’t be coming back.
But if you meet people where they are, have a friendship with them that is real (whether they come to Church or not) and where you are actively trying to share Christ with them (because Christ is real and alive in you not because it is a mandate), then you have a real shot and growth at your Church is possible. It’s not the immediate, fast pace growth necessarily but it is sustainable growth.
What do you think? How have you seen Church growth through relationships? Or is there another idea for growing your Church that you have seen effective? Share your thoughts below or social media using #ymsidekick when you post.