Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Would you be prepared if growth occurred in your church?

A few years ago I preached a series of messages in a church that said they wanted to grow.  In one of the messages I challenged them to consider what many might consider an unrealistic rate of growth over the next five years.  I explained that I wasn't trying to set a goal for them but wanted them to think about how such growth would impact their church.  When I first gave them the number I urged them to sit there and think about what their sanctuary would look like if such growth occurred.  There were more than a few smiles on the faces there that morning, but those faces became more somber as I continued to ask what would have to change if that growth did occur.  Here are some of the questions I asked that congregation that morning.  If such growth happened how would it impact
  1. Your parking?  Would you have adequate parking for the number of cars that would represent?  Would you need to add additional entrances and exists into your parking area?  Would you need people to direct parking.  Would you offer valet parking?
  2. Your worship service?  New people bring new expectations.  Do you have sufficient seating for the larger number of people we are talking about?  Would you need to add another worship service, and how well would that be accepted?  (I knew this church had tried a second worship service earlier, and it did not please many of the congregation.)  How many new children's workers would you need for the influx of children?
  3. Your discipleship ministry?  How many new Sunday school classes and/or small groups would you have to start for the additional people?  Where would you find teachers and workers?  Who would train them, and when would that training begin?  You can't wait until you realize you need six new classes and start looking for people to lead them.  Do you have the space for additional classes?  Is your property conducive to building additional facilities if needed?  Would such building impact your parking?
  4. Your youth and children's ministry?  Nearly every smaller church I talk to tells me they want to reach young families with children, but few of them have anyone willing or prepared to work with those young people.  How will you recruit and train your children and youth workers?  Are you willing to require background checks on these people?  Is sufficient space available for youth and children's ministries?  Are you willing to invest the funds necessary for a quality ministry to children and youth?  (These are not usually financially self-sustaining .)
  5. Your staff?  Who will determine what staff needs to be added and when?  Who will your staff report to?  Will these be fully-funded or bivocational positions?  Will your church staff for growth or maintenance?  What will be the expectations of your staff?  A church of 100 people will have certain expectations for their pastor which would need to be much different if the church grew to 400 people.  How comfortable will your congregation be with such different expectations?
  6. Your church structure?  Will your church need to revise its constitution to change how the church is structured?  (The answer is usually yes!)  In a congregational church that is used to having monthly business meetings and voting on even the most mundane issues, will you be willing to trust your leadership to handle most of the decisions that need to be made?  What other changes would have to be made to enable your church to become more permission giving and simplify decision making?
I could ask many more questions similar to these, but I hope these are enough to convince you that it is important that we do more than sit around hoping that our churches might grow.  I am convinced that most of our churches will not experience significant growth until we are prepared to handle such growth.  I completely agree with  Nelson Searcy when he writes, "God will not draw people to himself in your church unless you are prepared...Why would God cause people to accept his invitation of salvation under your care if you aren't ready to receive them and start shepherding them toward becoming fully developing followers of Jesus?"  For more help on being prepared to receive new people into your church and reaching out to them I highly recommend Searcy's book.

No comments: