Tag Archive - attendance

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10 Indicators You’re Leading an Outsider-Focused Church

There is a tension that exists in most churches in America, a tension between being outsider-focused and insider-focused. The majority of churches I’ve worked with would affirm in principle that the bible teaches us that the Church should be focused on what Jesus is focused on, and that’s people who are outside of the faith meeting and following Him. However in practice most churches focus the majority of their budgets, staffing, energy and efforts not on reaching outsiders but keeping insiders happy. This leads to churches being insider-focused and missing the mission that Jesus has called His Church to.

Not every church is insider-focused though. Some churches do a great job embracing the mission of Jesus and being outsider focused. In fact, here are 10 characteristics I’ve observed in churches that are outsider-focused.

1. Attenders aren’t Embarrassed to Invite Friends

Simple enough. Regular attenders know that if they bring their friends who are unfamiliar with Jesus and His Church that they’re going to have a great experience and that it’s going to be helpful to their everyday life. There is no cringe-factor that is preventing them from bringing their friends.

2. Guests are Showing Up

Guests are actually showing up and you know it when they show up because you’ve developed a system and strategy to make it easy for first time guests to self-identify and receive the help that they need to navigate your church for the first time.

3. Guests are Coming Back

This is big. Guests had such a good experience the first time that they came that they actually came back. You know they came back and you thank them for coming back.

4. New People are Saying Yes to Following Jesus

Again, seems simple enough. You know your church is outsider-focused if people who are outside the faith are meeting Jesus. This means you’re being intentional about presenting the Gospel and giving people the opportunity to respond.

5. New People are being Baptized

Healthy growing churches in America are baptizing 10% of their total weekend attendance. That means a healthy church that averages 500 people on the weekend this year will baptize 50 people. But of course you’d know that if your church has participated in the online version of the Health Assessment tool provided by the Unstuck Group and has bench-marked the health of your church.

6. New People are taking Next Steps

An unappreciated evidence of an outsider-focused church is that they have intentionally thought through next steps and people are moving forward in their spiritual development by getting into groups, volunteering, and giving.

7. Attendance is Increasing

May sound like a no-brainer here, but outsider-focused churches are growing churches. Is your church not growing? You may not be on mission with Jesus as much as you thought you were.

8. They make the Bible Accessible

Outsider-focused churches understand that people who are unfamiliar with Jesus and His Church are also unfamiliar with the Bible. And so they are very deliberate about making the language that they use and concepts that they talk about biblically accurate while remaining accessible and understandable to the culture they are in.

9. They work hard to be Simple not Simplistic

They create systems that make it clear, simple and intuitive to get into a group, or volunteer, or give financially to the church. Notice I didn’t say simplistic. The Apple iPhone is simple and intuitive to use, but it’s not simplistic.

10. They Embrace the “New”

Outsider-focused churches create a culture that embraces “the new.” They know that everything has a natural life-cycle so they become incessant tinkerers. They’re not afraid to start new things because they know new things attract new people. They are robust in their evaluation about their ministry environments and are candid about whether a ministry offering is reaching outsiders or developing insiders and if the answer is neither than they stop doing it.


Posted in Leadership

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The 5 Most Important Indicators of a Healthy Church

Numbers can be overwhelming. I’ve seen churches keep numbers and measure all kinds of things. First time guests, returning guests, empty parking stalls during services, kids attendance, student attendance, short-term mission trip participation, first time givers, on and on the list goes…literally. None of these (or other categories not listed) are necessarily bad things to measure. In fact in totality they can help you gain understanding as to which direction things are moving at your church. The thing is, there are a lot of things you could measure, a lot of things you could pay attention to. But what are the most important things to pay attention to? I know some people will disagree with me, but based on my experience working with churches around the country, and being a guy that’s in the trenches day to day at a local church, the 5 most important numbers to keep a pulse on are the following.

1. Baptisms

You can measure first time guests and the number of people who say yes to following Jesus (and you should); but the most important number to measure in all of that is baptisms, because the other two numbers are wrapped up in the number of people being baptized at your church. And after all, this is the whole point of the church to help people follow Jesus, and a public declaration of that intent is a huge part of that process.

2. Volunteers

The number of unique volunteers you have serving at your church tells you two really important things. First it tells you who is with you. Who is bought into the vision of where you believe Jesus is uniquely leading your church. After all in today’s’ world it’s a lot easier to give some money than it is to give time. These are all-in people. It also helps you identify and develop potential leaders in your church, because volunteering is discipleship. You can’t follow Jesus without learning to live an others oriented life!

3. Groups

Simply put life-change happens best in groups…in the context of friendships, because after all what we are being discipled to when we follow Jesus, is friendship with Jesus. This is where people “work out” their belief system and begin to change their thinking. This number gives you an indicator of the number of people who are being discipled and moving towards what Jesus wants them to become.

4. Giving

You cannot follow Jesus without giving and serving. Giving is an indicator of the level of buy-in people have in the direction you’re moving as a church. Healthy churches have a strategy to help their people become more generous. Not because they want something from them, but because they want something for them. They want them to look and live like Jesus. They aren’t simply teaching or telling their people to give, there is a holistic strategy to help them move towards becoming generous like Jesus.

5. Attendance

You knew this one was coming didn’t you? It may be simple but attendance numbers matter. Numbers count because people count. Every number has a name and every name has a story. The goal of the Gospel movement, called the Church, that Jesus started was not that it would get smaller and less influential, but rather that it would become a movement that would go to the ends of the Earth!

Interested in discovering how healthy your church is? Take the step to engage the Unstuck Group in a comprehensive Ministry Health Assessment of your church!

Photo Credit: griseldangelo1 via Compfight cc


Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation, Volunteers