Across America, churches continue to decline in attendance. So many factors combat regular church attendance. Sports commitments, work commitments, and extraordinarily busy lives make slowing down for church difficult. Churches struggle to connect with a new generation of people.
Personally, over the last five years, our church shrunk from around 60 people, to average in the mid-30s. I don’t write from the perspective of an expert on the topic of church growth.
A friend recently sent me an article written by Carey Nieuwhof titled
Carey writes from the perspective of success in growth and years of reflection on church leadership. I’m writing today to reflect on and apply what I’ve read.
Growing Churches in the Future will do these five things.
1. Fill the relational void.
Ironically we have never been more interconnected as a culture, yet we feel more disconnected than ever. I easily connect with friends around the globe through FaceTime, yet it’s harder to connect with real, human beings.
Churches have always thrived on relationships. At their best, church communities represent hubs of love and compassion, and truth.
For my little church to grow, we must build our community around relationships. We must discard activities and events just for the sake of numbers. We must embrace and pursue activities that promote deep, meaningful relationships.
2. Broker Meaning
Years ago, door to door salesman made livings off selling the Encyclopedia Britannica because people wanted more information. Today a $40 smartphone gushes news like a firehose. Our world has no shortage of data.
What we struggle with as a world is a lack of meaning. We don’t want more information. We want a deep sense of meaning and purpose.
I think this points to one of the reasons church attendance has dropped. When we fail to talk about meaning, people look for it in other places. The ministries of CBC need to revolve around helping men and women find meaning in their lives.
3. Embrace Selflessness
Our world reaks of narcissism. Thank you for this gift, social media. Honestly, we struggle with this in the church as much as the world around us.
The Gospel calls us to love others as much as we love ourselves. It calls us to love God first. It calls us to die to ourselves. I love how Carey put it:
“A life defined by generosity and service to others (especially those in need) is increasingly attractive to a world suffocating on itself.”
CBC’s capacity to reach our community depends on us pursuing selflessness. If we do this, we will breathe life into our world.
4. Deal Hope
I love that Christianity doesn’t promise a life free of pain. I want a life free from anxiety. Don’t get me wrong. But our world, our specific community, has so much pain in it! History drips with blood, pain, and heartache.
Christianity promises hope in the middle of pain. The Gospel promises life here and after death. The cross speaks forgiveness to every heart that listens.
Growth for CBC and other churches like mine doesn’t involve better programs. If we intend to meet the pain of our world with the cross of Christ, we must give hope. Beautifully, though, we are merely handing out faith that God already gave. We need to connect more of our neighbors with the hope of the church.
5. Make your mission the mission
Our world continues to change at a blistering pace. Our cultural values and beliefs look radically different than only a decade ago. If we want to reach our community, we must dig deep, eliminate, and do whatever it takes. We must change everything but our message.
I serve a 31-year-old church. If we want to reach 40 years, we need radical, ambitious change. We need to continue thinking, praying, trying, and doing.
Conclusion and Hope
Jesus has secured the future of the church. He started it! We have hope. As long as we make our mission His mission, our church will have a future.