One of the reasons small churches don’t grow is because they depend on “hope” as their core strategy. But hope is not a strategy. Very few church leaders have seriously worked through the strategies and logistics of what it takes to turn Visiting Victor into a disciple of Jesus. Instead, they “hope” he’ll figure it out from the sermons (he won’t) or that he’ll intuitively know how to read his Bible, pray, interpret scripture, and from that become a baptized believer. 

It doesn’t happen that way.

It never has. 

But we keep acting “as if” that’s going to make that happen. And when Visiting Victor drifts away, we’re surprised because we expected him to figure it out. And so our churches remain small and getting smaller.

“But we have a discipleship process … we have Sunday school. And he could come to the Men’s Breakfast.” (Or “She could come to the Women’s Missionary Group.”)

That doesn’t work. For one, because he’s not going to bother and attend Sunday school – and he’s going to get tired of the gossip at the men’s group pretty quickly. But secondly, this is the same process the church has been depending on for a century … and it’s perhaps the key reason why we’re in the state we’re in. 

Small churches stay small because they don’t take the time to develop systems to make disciples. They depend on it “just happening.” It won’t. It isn’t. And it hasn’t. Even if your pastor spends 80 percent of their time out in the community getting people to come to the church … and the process outlined above is what you’re depending on to make disciples and grow the church … you’re wasting your time. 

As a church leader, this system and this process is the ultimate key to the church’s growth … put some effort into developing your church’s discipleship process and put some energy behind it to get the ball rolling.

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