Wednesday, September 14, 2016

What is the pastor's role in growing a church?

I am enjoying reading Gary McIntosh's book Growing God's Church: How People Are Actually Coming to Faith Today. The chapter I read this morning addressed the pastor's role in evangelism and church growth. In a survey he conducted only 5.3 percent reported that the pastor or staff member was the greatest influence on their initial decision to attend a church. However, when asked the reason they decided to remain in their church, the pastor's role ranked very high.

Eighty percent of the respondents identified five factors that led to them choosing to attend their church.

  1. Preaching that teaches and applies to my life
  2. Authenticity of the pastor
  3. Pastor's convictions
  4. Pastor's leadership skills
  5. Feeling at ease around the pastor
The top three were selected by all generations as critical factors. Millennials also mentioned the pastor's sense of humor as an important factor. In smaller communities there was more emphasis on the relational nature of the pastor. People want to feel comfortable around the pastor.

McIntosh suggests several things the church and pastor can do, and this one chapter is worth more than the cost of the book. I'll just mention two thoughts that come to my mind.

The first is that churches, especially smaller ones, expect far too much from the pastor in the area of bringing in new people. Church growth is the responsibility of the entire congregation. Family and friends have far more impact on their loved ones attending a church than does the pastor.

The second thing that jumps out at me is that the pastor does play a major role in keeping people in the church. We need to closely examine our ministries in light of the five areas mentioned above. Although we may have a minor role in bringing people in through the front door, we do have a great deal of responsibility to make sure they don't go out the back door.

People are seeking spiritual answers to their real life problems. They want a pastor who will speak to those issues with authenticity and conviction. They will not remain in a church with a pastor who cannot do that.

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