Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The C.O.R.E. Essentials To A Growing Church

It's been an interesting transition from being on the staff of a church for the past 30 years to life on the outside.  As a chaplain to businesses, and coach to church planters, I am still doing ministry, it's just not within the walls of an established church.  Now I'm the pastor so to speak for a lot of people, many of whom don't go to church.  It's given me the opportunity to ask some why they don't go to church and their answers say a lot about our churches today.  

I've heard everything from the typical answer of "all they want is your money", to "I'm just too worn out from work to go."  But two recent responses got my attention.  One was from a twenty someting male who said his family had moved to San Antonio several months ago and just had not found a church yet.  He was content to watch the services of his former church in Oklahoma on tv.  Another lady in her early thirties said she grew up Catholic and considered herself a believer. She said she would like to go but just didn't want to go to the Catholic Church anymore and considered herself more of a non-denominational type.  Yet she wasn't going to church anywhere.  

Both indicated they would like to find a church but just hadn't been motivated enough to find one on their own.  They both live near many great churches of all styles, sizes and denominations and yet they have not found a church they want to attend.  What is missing here?  I couldn't help thinking that if one person in their life invited them to their church, they would accept the invitation.  

These two must represent so many others who are open to going, yet never make that first step because there is not a compelling enough motivation to go.  Thinking about what gets people to church and what keeps them going, I've listed what I believe are the C.O.R.E. essentials, to a growing church.  At Grace Point, these are our "values", but they are the essentials that motivate a member to go and become involved in church.  

COMMITMENT TO A HIGHER CAUSE...Commitment to Christ, longing to connect and commit to something bigger than oneself is a reason many look to the church. Therefore, the key to motivating any new attender or believer to making the church part of their life is to clearly communicate what it means to be a committed follower of Christ in an inspirational way on a consistent basis.  If you can help a seeker or new believer to grasp that they are created with a purpose given from God and have been equipped with tools to accomplish that purpose (spiritual gifts and Holy Spirit), and can best accomplish that with and through the church, then you'll be much more inclined to get a long term commitment. A pastor must inspire on a consistent basis!

OWNERSHIP...If people want to be part of something significant and to use their gifts, then we must have a way to assimilate them into ministry quickly.  If one has no ownership in the church they attend, no part in the ministry, if all one does is attend, then he or she is more likely to stop coming when anything displeases them.  The failure of a pastor and staff to equip the saints for ministry is one of the biggest reasons a church does not grow.  If your church has no way of recruiting, training and assimilating new people into ministry, you'll have a difficult time getting anyone to stay.  How does your church assimilate the flock into ministry?

RELATIONSHIP...Many people join churches and most stay because of relationships.  It is critical that newcomers get connected into a life group or ministry team as soon as possible.  It's also critical that you consistently communicate, teach, train and inspire your members to be relationally evangelistic.  One of our greatest needs is to be relationally connected and yet today more people complain about how isolated they are.  Many come to church and feel even more isolated in the midst of tons of people. This is just wrong. How do you facilitate relationships within your church?   

ENCOURAGEMENT... People want to feel encouraged when they leave church.  If the message is not uplifting, motivating and inspiring, then you'll have a difficult time getting any newcomers to return. There is nothing more encouraging than the message of the Gospel so it shouldn't be difficult to communicate it in a way that people will want to hear again and again.  And encouragement does not start and end with the pastor.  If the members don't encourage others especially the newcomers, not many will want to return.  How well do you and your members do on the encouragement scale?

There are numerous reasons why people go to church and why they don't.  But if your church fails in any one of these four areas, the chances of growing diminish quickly.  

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