One of my favorite churches in my neck-of-the-woods has grown over the last twelve years to over 7,000 people in worship. That’s not bad. But that’s not all. Now it has eight campuses, most in surrounding towns. But it’s not unusual to drive by this church in the evening and realize it is pitch dark inside. That’s right. It is rare for something to take place at the church during the week. Once a month they have a Wednesday service with music and communion. Now and then they will host an event for the city such as a Financial Management Seminar. Otherwise 95% of the time the place is vacant except on the weekend. They understand that less is best and that by focusing on a few things they are able to grow.
The last couple of years several books have come out extolling the virtues of less is best. The idea is the less ministry a church is focused on the more chance it has to grow. Several reasons are cited:
- People are too busy to support one program or meeting after another.
- Being focused on a hand full of things that the church does best allows the church to do them so well that they give more benefit to the participant.
- Funds are getting harder to come by these days.
- Some go so far as to say doing less is more biblical than trying to roll out a smorgasbord of ministries.
- Churches are simply doing what they do best and no more.
One of these churches is Christ the King in Washington state. The church has locations in twelve states and seven countries. Its formula goes like this – keep it simple; keep it missional; keep it real; keep it cellular; keep it moving; keep it expanding. You can read about this church and its philosophy in the book Deliberate Simplicity by Dave Browning.
Another book is Simple Church by Thom Rainer. The author encourages churches to narrow their focus so they can concentrate on the one primary mission of the church – to make disciples. Rainer suggests that the church clearly and narrowly define its purpose and then align everything around that purpose and drop everything that doesn’t fit the purpose.
Sometimes change comes about not by doing more but by getting rid of a lot of things that have little to do with your churches mission. When I consult with a church I often find it spending time, energy, and money on things that actually keep it from growing. So, I’ve made a list of the four things that grow a church. You may have seen them before but are you putting all your time, energy, and money into making them happen. Here they are.
- Bringing people to Christ and into the church.
- Retaining them long enough to disciple them.
- Discipling people into servants.
- Sending them back out into the marketplace.
Now, it makes sense to drop everything you are doing that doesn’t help achieve one of these four actions of the church. Give it some thought and take ax to those activities that are holding your church back or that don’t assist it in its mission.
So what are the few things that your church does so well it draws in people, disciples them, and sends them back out?