When it comes to encouraging people to invite others to your church service, one thing stands out above the rest.

People need a specific reason to invite.

It’s not enough to just tell them to invite, they need what I call invite handles.

Invite handles are specific anythings that your people can use in a conversation (personal or online) to invite someone to church.  It’s the reason why that person should come.

The key here is to spend some time thinking through and then creating and communicating your invite handles to your people.

Whether an upcoming event at your church, sermon or sermon series, special testimony, special music, or pot-luck, give your people something specific that they can invite people to.

Because Church Growth Matters,
Barry

My wife recently had the opportunity to visit one of the small groups a growing church in our community offers.

As many churches do, the curriculum for this particular small group was based on the previous weeks sermon.

But there was a problem.

Throughout the lesson the small group leader would ask questions like “Last Sunday the pastor said we are to do what?” and “Which main point in the message did you relate to?” For those who attended last weeks service those questions were fine, but if you did not make the service last week or happened to be a first-time visitor to the church via the small group, the questions made you feel awkward and isolated. Instead of fostering growth and community, this small group pushed some of the people away. The result is predictable, this small group will probably be smaller next week.

Consider: When people feel awkward it pushes them away instead of pulls them in.

Whether in a small group, Sunday school class, or in a sermon if you want to pull people in and not push them away, teach like they know nothing.

Try This: Next time you meet with your small group leaders (whether by email, Skype, or in person) ask them to apply the Push-Pull Test. Ask them to look at their notes prior to teaching and ask “Is there anything in my notes that a total stranger would not know or understand? If so, rewrite or remove.

Church Growth Matters,
Barry

If a first time visitor has to ask questions about your church, you’ve probably lost them, for good.

Here’s why.

We live in America. American’s by nature shop. Shoppers not only shop, they compare.  Not only do they compare, they keep score. When Americans (your outreach target) walk into a store, restaurant, movie, doctors office, or church, they are keeping score.

Shopping, comparing, and keeping score is not just a part of our American culture, it’s who we are.

Why Unanswered Questions Push Visitors Away

When a first time visitor can’t figure something out on their own, they are forced to go ask a question. The reason this is such a big deal is Americans expect their questions to be answered for them.  In their Monday-Saturday cultural norm, most questions are answered before they have to ask. So when they have to ask a question at your church on Sunday, they get frustrated (the opposite of a positive first impression). That one frustration generates a negative mark on their shoppers score card, and once your visitor gets a few of those they won’t return to your church.

Questions Church Visitors Expect To Be Answered For Them

  • (Arrival) What door do we go in? (if it’s not totally obvious they will not know).
  • Where do my kids go? (the #1 question asked by parents immediately upon entering your church building).
  • Where is the bathroom? (the #2 question asked upon entering the building after three cups of coffee).
  • Are there Sunday School classes or small groups for us to attend?
  • What is the title of the Sunday school or small group class? Who is the teacher? Where are they located in the building? Do you have a handout with info and a map to the classroom?
  • How do I get involved? What are my next steps? How do I become a member? Can I join today? (questions a ”I finally found my new church home!” visitor asks).
  • How do I give? What are my giving options? Can I give cash? Check? On the Web? How do I get a receipt for my donation? (*Many churches encourage first-time visitors not to give but I believe they should be left alone to make that decision because visitors often want to feel part of the church, and giving creates a bond/ownership which increases the chance that they will return.
  • What is the website address for the church? Do you have a Facebook page? Twitter page? Can I use YouVersion or other Bible apps in the worship service and small group? (*2 out of 10 people now use Bible apps on their smart phones instead of a printed Bible -and that number continues to grow; If you still don’t understand the value of correctly using social media to do ministry and grow your church, let’s talk).

The information about your church that you already know is not always obvious to new visitors. That’s why it’s important to take some time to evaluate what questions are not being answered for your visitors. An easy way to do this is to follow up with those that visit and ask them if they had to ask any questions or if anything was not obvious during their visit.

Take some time and evaluate the questions visitors ask, and you just may see greater growth this year!

If you have additional question I’d love to help! Visit the contact page to get in touch.

 

 

ParentsForSaleThe most difficult moments for parents have a divine purpose – they are designed to help the parent grow closer to God.

These moments include:

  • Dropping your child off and having to turn your back on them for the very first time.
  • The moment when your child picks their friends over you (“Mom, you don’t need to come in”).
  • The moment when your loving-protective grip is forced to fully let go of your baby (who is now an older teen) into His hands.

Every difficult parenting moment is carefully designed by our loving Parent, our Heavenly Father.

“Train up a child in the way they are shaped by God to go, covering them with his truth all along the way, and when they grow older they will be okay.” -Proverbs 22:6

Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is put down your Bible and pick up a broom.

For Christians, attending Sunday services with heartfelt worship and inspirational messages can be relaxing and the highlight of our week. The problem is that a relaxed posture has never changed the world.  My apologies in advance for using a 4-letter word here – but that harsh reality is to reach new people with God’s amazing grace and love found in Jesus it requires less relaxing and more “work.”

If we’re not careful, bringing a Bible to church to just be taught, can become normal. Although our being ministered to can be beneficial and even necessary at times, when it comes to breaching the gates of Hell and reaching our community for Christ the new normal must become a deep love for others and sacrificial work.

The Blessing of Sweat

No one who has ever been part of a church that advanced the Gospel and has seen people get gloriously saved, has ever regretted the sweat and work it took to get there. There is nothing more beautiful than witnessing a hopeless life become a new life in Christ.

Picking up a broom in order to help accomplish God’s redemptive plan on earth can be one of the most loving things a Christian can do.

For you, the broom you pick up may be serving coffee on Sunday morning, greeting, ushering, holding an umbrella, making snacks, setting up or tearing down, or it may be using your administrative skills to help with office related tasks through the week. When someone discovers through serving how God has shaped and gifted them to serve the rewards and fulfillment from serving can not only be the highlight of their week, but it can become the greatest joy of their life.

To accomplish the mission of the church, somebody has to pick up a broom and do the work.

I’m ready, how about you?

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithfulstewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”  1 Peter 4:10 (NIV)

sustained-growth-chartIn my work as a church growth consultant I’ve found that there are 3 things (+1) needed to grow a church and sustain that growth over time:

1.  A compelling vision that is communicated clearly & regularly.

Vision creates movement. A church without a compelling vision stagnates and eventually stops growing. Casting fresh vision clearly and regularly creates motion and keeps a church moving forward.

2. An easy to understand path to getting people involved (the assimilation process).

Creating an easy to follow assimilation path to involvement is key to shutting the visitor back door, getting people involved (the glue), and generating sustained growth.

3. The “right” outreach campaigns & events.

It’s not enough to just have an outreach event. To reach the community and in doing so grow your church, your outreach event planning should consider: The resources available (budget, skills of your people, etc);  The demographics (who really lives here) of the community you are trying to reach out to (for example a Cowboy Dinner may not work in every community); The needs of the community (outreach that does not consider the poor & needy in the community really isn’t church outreach).  It’s my belief that each event should be strategic and include an event mission statement so that the people in the church clearly know the what & the why making it easier for them to rally around and support the event.

As important as the above 3 things are for sustained church growth, there is something even more important:

+1. Love. 

As important as all of the above church growth strategies are, love should be the wrapping that covers everything that a church does.

Love places people first (regardless of how they can help our church).

Love allows for interruptions.

Love prays.

Love – lasts – forever.

“Let us love one another, for love comes from God.” -1 John 4:7 (NIV)

Whatever challenge you face know that:

1. You are not alone in the struggle, we all have them.

2. God custom designs our challenging circumstances to help us grow, know His will, and participate in ministry.

3. If we trust Him, stay positive, and don’t quit… what we learn will benefit us for our good and the good of others.

“Now the famine was severe in the land; I am your brother Joseph, do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you.” -Genesis 43:1; 45:4-5

What are you praying for today?

That’s an important question because that prayer may be more important than you think.

“You have granted him the desire of his heart and have not withheld the request of his lips.” -Psalm 21:2

Prayers have the potential to be so powerful and are so unpredictable because they have a spiritual connection. When something is spiritually tied to God (those things that God tells us to do in the Bible), there is a potential that He will apply the supernatural to that situation.  In other words, that spiritual connection creates the potential for God to perform a miracle on our behalf (that which we could not have orchestrated ourself).

Some of the other areas where spiritual connections can occur include:

  • Relationships
  • Salvation
  • Finances
  • Healing
  • Work
  • Ministry
  • Family

There are many more.

What are you praying for today?

 

 

Blaze_new_trails_colorCopy

Blazing new trails has always been the best way for the Church to reach new people.

Whether creating a new (effective) church outreach program, planting a new church, or transitioning an established church to turn their focus outward, new growth always requires the same thing – change.

The challenge for passionate church leaders is that blazing new trials and the change it brings is rather risky. It upsets the status quo and anytime the status quo gets bumped off balance, well, they tend to get a little fussy. That’s okay. The Gospel has been bumping into both the religious and the lost for a long time.

That brings us back to the blazing new trails thing. The reality is that in most of our communities 70%+ of the people that live around our churches do not get up out of bed on Sunday to attend any church. They simply are not motivated enough to go.  I don’t know about you, but to me that’s a sure sign that new trails need to be blazed, and what has worked in the past to reach new people probably won’t work in the future. Steady though, this type of blazing new trails thinking will likely result in having to do the bump with a few of the status quo protectors in our church.

Would it be worth the bruises? Pretty sure it would. After all, the whole point of this thing called church is to help hopeless people who are lost get found. When a church begins blazing new trails and reaching new people, that’s when the Christian life gets really fun!

“Go and…” (Matthew 28:19)

PS. If you like the Blaze New Trails drawing, be sure and check out Hugh MacLeod’s inspirational art here and grab a framed one to promote reaching new people in your church office!