Saturday, June 09, 2007

7 Steps to Church Growth

I just found this tongue-in-cheek strategy for church growth (HT: AKMA) by Josh "The Fearsome Pirate." (I've reworded some of his suggestions and dropped one.)

  1. Stop preaching lousy sermons. "If you're like most Christian pastors, your sermons are horrible." Fortunately, that means that it doesn't take much to distinguish yourself. "Unlike your typical sermon illustration book, pastor, or systematic theology textbook, the Bible is really cool and exciting. I suggest you preach it."
  2. Get rid of your praise band. "It is a proven, scientific fact that only 2.3% of praise bands actually put on that slick-as-snot professional performance every Sunday morning. The problem is that to do that kind of music the way it's meant to be done, you need to have actual professionals and tons of practice." I have to say that I just witnessed this at a "meta-church" event.
  3. Don't sing those bad hymns. Even the best hymnals have a fair amount of garbage. Many have inane, ridiculous or heretical lyrics. Others have unsingable tunes. At this event I mentioned above, the "worship music" was unfamiliar and too complex for congregational singing. But part of the meeting was governed by a traditional liturgy which called for a classic hymn, "And Can It Be." I was looking forward to a song I could actually sing, when I hear the keyboardist playing an unfamiliar tune. Even that hymn was ruined.
  4. Stop trying to be cool. Sitting on a stool, sporting a goatee and wearing "emo" glasses cannot make preaching cool. "And please stop pandering and talking down to people. People are not as stupid as you think they are. It just makes you look like a fruit. Talk like a human being."
  5. Kill the announcements. "They're supposed to be announcements, not Chinese Water Torture."
  6. Teach stuff in your classes. "Maybe people would start coming if they were actually learning things instead of just hanging out, hearing some idiotic presentation, or listening to the teacher ride a hobby horse. Teaching the Bible should be a priority." Don't use the lame workbooks that insult the intelligence of the people. "Instead, spend time actually studying the Word yourself, and teach the stuff you find."
  7. Get to know your people and care about them. If you do all the other stuff and don't do this, it won't mean a thing. Or if you do this, the other stuff will take care of itself. "People need pastors who care about them as human beings; you're not simply a sacrament-dispenser or a professional orator. Pastors that don't care are kind of unhuman, and in some way, they seem to really damage the church as a community."

So what do you think? Seems obvious doesn't it. Do you have some things to add to the list?

Pastor Rod

"Helping You Become the Person God Created You to Be"



To elaborate on number one, tell them what they need to hear and not what they want to hear. This will enable the Holy Spirt to convict.

Pastor Rod said...


I agree. But I know some people who have trouble telling the difference between what God wants people to hear from what they want people to hear.


daniel the smith said...

I like hymns. I like them even better when the music is in front of me so I can sing another part (hint hint). ;)

Yes, kill announcements. They're evil. God invented paper, email, websites, and hang out time after the service for that sort of thing.

"Stop trying to be cool": better, stop trying to be anything. If you happen to be cool, great. If you aren't, don't pretend. Be yourself. The last thing a church needs is for the pastor to be pretending to be something he's not.

A sermon may be lousy, or long, but not both. Or rather, the length of time I can sit for a sermon is inversely proportional to how lousy it is. But it depends on how lousy a sermon is: below a certain level they make me want to change religions. Especially sermons that sound like an article in a fitness magazine (How to have less stress, be a better parent, etc, in 10 easy steps).

Church is not a show. Worship is not music. Christianity is not a product. The bible is not "simple".

Sunday morning teaching is not the important part of being a pastor (a word which means "shepherd" if I recall correctly). Bigger [congregation size] is not better (it reduces connectedness; my pet thought at the moment is that the ideal church structure is a bunch of "cells" in a geographic area of 15-20 people, with each person/family being in two or three cells (which would meet at various times and places and be something like a very interactive church service), with (optionally) larger gatherings monthly or quarterly (picnics, etc), and (not so optionally) community service projects that all the cells pool resources for. Cell leaders would perhaps meet periodically to keep everything on the same page...).

Hmm, I guess that turned into a bit of a rant (none of which is directed at anyone in particular), and then a bit of a brain dump. Oh well. I like Pirate. I hope he gets back to the BHT sometime...

daniel the smith said...

oh and the thing I originally wanted to say...

In response to rod willett: I don't think anyone should be pandered to. Especially in areas which are common sins of the culture (materialism etc). But I get really nervous when I hear stuff like what you're saying because it gets abused really easily, even by well-meaning pastors...

Pastor Rod said...


I think you're on the right track with your idea about many small "congregations." I hope we have the opportunity to experiment with some of these possibilities.