5 Benefits of Big Days

This past Sunday our church had a big day. We highlighted our after school program that ministers to over 110 families in our community. We spent over a month personally inviting all of them, we sent mailers, we offered a free lunch, and we scheduled the kids in the after school program to sing in one of our morning worship services.

The result? We had over 40 visiting families (most of them unchurched). Here are some of the benefits I have noticed to having big days such as the one we had last week.

1- It builds excitement in the church.

Just the thought of having a big day builds excitement. But when the planned big day turns out to actually be a BIG day, the excitement continues. People love to see the church building overflowing with people. They see that with some hard work it is possible to have a lot of visitors.

2- It exposes your church to more people.

The vast majority of those who attended our big day had never attended before. It was their first exposure to our worship service. Some of the people I talked to had preconceived ideas about our church that were not accurate. Them coming allowed that to be corrected.

Now, as a result of our big day, more people know who we are and what we do.

3- It increases your prospects list.

This is common sense, but because of how we encourage visitors to complete guest registrations cards (read about that HERE), we now have many more prospects with which to follow-up.

4- It leads to increased attendance.

Many studies have been conducted that support this fact. Whenever a church has a big day where attendance significantly spikes up, ongoing attendance remains higher than it was before the big day. Obviously, not all who attended will continue to attend, but some will. Some members who have not been attending regularly will see the excitement the church has about reaching out and be drawn back in to regular attendance.

5- It is an opportunity to preach the gospel to the unchurched.

This is by far the most important point. Big days provide the opportunity to preach the gospel to people who may have never heard it before. We should be encouraged by the fact that Jesus was proclaimed to people who have not yet acknowledged their need for Christ.

Are big days a lot of work? Yes. Do big days require the involvement of many volunteers? Yes. Is it worth it? Absolutely. Schedule several big days throughout the year and you, too, will see the many benefits.

 

3 Reasons Why Churches That Were Once Great Are Now Struggling

We all know of churches that over the years have accomplished great things for Christ. These churches had great pastors who followed God’s leading and led their churches to do great things. They saw people giving their lives to Christ, they focused on helping people grow in their faith, and usually as a result, they saw their churches grow in both number and influence.

But something happened. Many of those same churches are no longer ‘great.’ In fact, many of them are struggling. Some of them no longer exist. Buildings that were once full are now practically empty. Why? What happened? What changed?

As I have informally studied a number of these scenarios (some even in my home town), there are several trends that keep reappearing. Please note that the reasons I provide are not based on any formal research, but on informal observation. However, I believe these reasons to be accurate.

1- The church stopped operating intentionally.

Early on, all of these churches were small and had to make a series of decisions that led to their growth and effectiveness. Those decisions were intentionally made to help further the mission they believe God had given their church. But over time decisions stopped being made intentionally. More attention started being given to what had been done in the past instead of what needed to be done in the present.

The “intentional” decision-making process that, in part, led to making the church great had been abandoned.

2- The church failed to adapt to the changing times.

No, I am not talking about changing the message that church preaches or even the standard of holiness to which a church holds. I am talking about things that, in a way are trivial, but because of the world in which we live, have become important.

Perhaps a few examples would help. (1) There is no denying the fact that we live in a web-driven world. You may find it strange to learn that there are still many churches who do not have a quality website. This hurts their ministry. (2) Social media is a norm in our culture. This is something that churches should be leveraging to help accomplish their mission. Many churches aren’t. (3) At one time as long as churches had a space for children, it was meeting a need – regardless of what that space looked like. That is no longer the world in which we live. If a church does not have a quality, clean, and safe children’s area, they will struggle to reach families with children.

These are not biblical issues, but are important because of the world in which we live. When churches fail to adapt in these kinds of ways to the culture in which they are ministering, they will struggle.

3- The church failed to have a plan of succession.

Perhaps the greatest failure in these churches is the failure to plan for the future – specifically in the area of leadership. Many of these churches had pastors who served faithfully for lengthy periods of time during which God blessed. However, these leaders and their churches failed to plan for the fact that their Senior Pastor would not be able to serve them forever. When the pastor retired, the church was not prepared to handle it. The result? Many times the church never recovered.

Closing Thoughts

Unfortunately, the scenarios described above happen far too frequently, but they don’t have to. Churches can determine to operate intentionally, they can pay attention to the culture in which they live, and they can plan for the future. Is it easy? Probably not. Is it necessary? For the long-term ministry effectiveness of their churches – Absolutely!

The Deceitfulness of Transfer Growth (Sheep Swapping)

We all want our churches to grow, but I think it is necessary to define what kind of growth we want. The sad reality is that much of the church growth in the Chattanooga area is what can be called ‘sheep swapping’ or ‘transfer growth.’ It’s not true kingdom growth. It’s not the growth of the Church that Jesus talked about in Matthew 16. It’s not Christians leading people to faith in Christ and then bringing them to the church where the can worship and grow. In fact, transfer growth is a deceitfully poor substitute for biblical growth.

I am aware that God may lead people from one church to another, I just don’t think He does it quite as often as people claim. Here is why this is dangerous.

1- Transfer growth can give the appearance of health when no real health exists.

There are many churches that are growing but who are not actually making disciples. So are they really healthy? I would say no. If all growth in a church is transfer growth, church health is a myth.

2- Church leaders can become tempted to cater to potential transfers instead of being driven by our biblical mandate.

It may be tempting to try and cater to those who are looking to transfer from another church. But that is ultimately not beneficial.

3- Since transferring membership is so common, people have been taught it’s okay to run from problems rather than deal with them biblically.

People leave one church and go to another church, leaving behind them a trail of anger, bitterness, selfishness. People need to be encouraged to handle differences biblically, not run from them.

4- An abundance of transfer growth can lead the church into a state of apathy.

If a church is growing numerically and financially through transfer growth, the church can slip into a mindset of thinking that everything is okay when it’s really not. This kind of apathy just prolongs the church’s demise.

5- Transfer growth can lead to churches viewing other gospel-preaching churches as competitors instead of co-laborers.

If the majority of people in your church came from other churches, chances are they view the church they came from with some negativity. Many times they try and invite others to leave with them. The truth is that we are on the same team. We are not competitors, but co-laborers.

6- Non-essential issues are more likely to be an issue.

Very few people leave churches for a biblical reason. It’s usually because they don’t like the music, don’t get to do what they want, don’t like a program, or disagree a decision that has been made. It is usually not because of a gospel issue — which means that it is a non-essential issue. The truth is that it is just a matter of time before there is something at your church that is non-essential that ruffles feathers. (I’ve never seen someone who is a new believer make an issue about non-essential things; it is usually those who have been saved a while.)

Closing Thought

I know there are legitimate reasons for people to leave one church and join another church; and we welcome those who are looking for a church for legitimate reasons. But as church leaders we cannot fall into the trap of building our churches on that kind of growth.

Growth by way of transfers should be the exception, not the rule.