Tag Archive - step

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Why Some Churches Win But Most Lose

Not every church is winning. In fact Thom Rainer, President and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources has stated in his research that: “Eight out of ten of the approximately 400,000 churches in the United States are declining or have plateaued.”

There are a lot of reasons why 80% of churches in America aren’t winning and there’s no “silver bullet” fix. But there are a couple of things that winning churches consistently do that losing churches don’t.

1. They make Decisions based on Who they are trying to Reach Instead of Who they are trying to Keep

The primary filter for winning churches is “What can we do (short of sin) to reach people who are far from Jesus?” You may think that all these churches care about is evangelism and helping people meet Jesus (Is that so bad?), and that leads to the church being a mile wide and an inch deep. But surprisingly these churches are usually very sensitive to helping people who have recently said yes to following Jesus take their next steps in their spiritual journey with Him. If a church isn’t reaching new people then it’s already dying, it just hasn’t shown up yet.

2. They Embrace Change

Winning churches embrace change. They change their staff and organizational structure. They change their worship style. They change their strategies. They change what ministries they offer. They are incessantly tinkering to try and improve what they do to reach new people with the Gospel. They take big risks because they have a big God and they trust Him for big results. They are not afraid to try new things. They’re not afraid to fail.

3. They don’t just Shepherd People well they Lead People

While the staff at winning churches care deeply about people, they don’t view themselves as simply caretakers and they don’t view their role as simply taking care of people. They view themselves as leaders and feel a responsibility to lead people where Jesus wants them to go even if that means it’s going to be uncomfortable. After all, when was following Jesus ever comfortable?

4. They Help People take Steps not get into a Class

Most winning churches I’ve been around aren’t as interested in biblically educating people as they are challenging people to become obedient to the biblical knowledge they already have. They view discipleship as obedience not information. Winning churches have a clear plan to move people from guests to fully involved and people that say yes to Jesus to following Jesus. Their goal isn’t to simply get people into a class.


Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation, Staffing

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Making the Assimilation Process Work at your Church

Stuckness is no respecter of the “brand” or “flavor” of a church. All kinds of churches across America are stuck. Large churches, small churches, old churches, new churches, Baptist churches, Methodist churches, Nazarene churches, Presbyterian church and even non-denominational churches are stuck. Lead long enough in a church and it will probably happen to you. Stuckness is such an epidemic in the American Church that Thom Rainer, President and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources has stated in his research that:

“Eight out of ten of the approximately 400,000 churches in the United States are declining or have plateaued.” Thom Rainer, Breakout Churches

And while there are a lot of reasons that churches get stuck and plateau or begin to decline the biggest culprit is that somewhere along the way new people stop getting connected or assimilated into the life of the church. It doesn’t have to be that way. Try giving the list below to the Sr. Leadership Team at your church to read and then come back and have an honest conversation about each point and identify opportunities to improve and islands of strength to build on.

Create an Engaging Guest Experience

I’ll admit that what I’m about to say may sound a little like heresy, but here goes. Instead of learning from other churches begin looking at other public spaces that people in your community enjoy going to. Visit resorts, restaurants, stores and other public venues that have a great guest experience and have people coming back for more. Take your teams, debrief, and build a list of what you can learn and principles and ideas that you can transfer to your local church.

Create Opportunities for People to Self-Identify

Guest parking, children’s check-in, a physical guest services location, and a communication card located in your church program or bulletin are all simple ways to create avenues for guests to self-identify. By a guest self-identifying they are essentially “opting-in” or giving you permission to speak with them. Instead of butting into people’s lives and spamming people are you engaging them in a dialogue with their permission.

Make it Personal

It’s a nice touch when I make reservations for my wife’s birthday and we show up at the restaurant to be greeted by a “Happy Birthday Mrs. Alexander,” (and I don’t mind the free dessert either). The more personal you can make it, the more memorable it will be. Instead of a cookie-cutter guest follow up letter, could you write a personal handwritten note? Could the person who greeted the guest and walked them around actually be the one writing it? How about a personal phone call to say, “Thank you for being our guest,” instead of trying to just get them to come back. Think: personal without intrusive.

Identify Next Steps for People

It can be frustrating going onto a church campus for the first time. It can seem like everyone else (insiders) already know where to go and what to do. It’s easy to feel like an outsider; in fact in can be plain intimidating. You can make it easier for people by thinking through a “what’s next” exercise with your team. Imagine a guest drives into your parking lot…what next? Imagine they find the right place to park…what’s next? Asking, “What’s next?” moving through the moment a guest arrives on your campus to the moment they leave will help you discover opportunities you have to make it easier for people to get connected at your church.

Make it Easy to Volunteer and get into a Group

People come to church for all kinds of reasons but they stay at a church because of relationship and responsibility. So instead of making it difficult to volunteer and get into a group make it easy. The best way to build a great assimilation process at your church is to focus on building a strong culture of volunteering and Bible Study Groups.

Create an Invitation Culture

When people come to church with people,assimilation becomes easy because there is already an existing relationship. In the same study conducted by LifeWay Research referenced above, they found the following to be true:

  • Most people come to church because of a personal invitation
  • 7 out of 10 unchurched people have never been invited to church
  • Only 2% of church members invite an unchurched person to church
  • 82% of the unchurched are at least somewhat likely to attend church if invited

This post is an excerpt from an article that I originally wrote for Converge Point Magazine.


Posted in Leadership

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Taking Steps to Make Vision Real

Typically churches aren’t stuck when it comes to the mission. Fortunately we don’t have to search very far in the Scriptures to discover God’s intent for the church to reach the nations. However where churches are notorious for being stuck is what comes next. Understanding and developing the steps that are necessary to take in order to make that vision reality. This is where strong leadership is needed. The task of leadership is to break a complicated process of moving from where you are to where God wants you to be into clear, simple, easy, natural steps that make vision real.

Clear:

If what you’re asking people to do is confusing, chances are they’ll move in a different direction than you intend for them to, or worse they won’t move at all. Your idea and message may seem obvious and clear to you, but it doesn’t matter how clear it is in your mind. You’ve got to figure out a way to make it clear to the people you want to take the step.

Simple:

If you want people to take a step that will move them and the organization in a preferred direction then it can’t be complicated. If you’ve ever put together IKEA furniture then you understand what I mean. It’s amazing how they can fit a 6×6 entertainment center in a box the size of a Rubix Cube, and for some reason there always seems to be parts left over! The best and quickest process is always a one step process.

Easy:

Let me be clear. By no means am I saying that helping people take steps towards making vision real is easy in the sense that it is painless, peaceful, or comfortable. Moving people towards a preferred future vision of reality (change) by its very nature is difficult and painful. Rather I’m asserting that easy solutions to complex problems lead to movement.

Natural:

If you are intentional in forming the culture of the organization then you will be creating an environment that tells people where they should naturally move towards and how they should behave. People should begin to see it as the natural obvious step they should move towards.


Posted in Leadership