Many church leadership teams have great ideas about how to market the church to entice visitors. Real growth happens when those who are curious choose to stay, though. Here are a few habits to build and pitfalls to avoid to help your church grow more organically.
Don't Neglect Your Online Presence
Most organizations understand the importance of having an up-to-date website. A new thing that many church leaders learned during the pandemic is the appeal of online or hybrid services. Be careful not to neglect these skills just because people are attending in person again. Returning to normal doesn't mean you have to do everything exactly the way you were doing it before. You can offer both options.
Do Maximize Your Internet Potential
In addition to a reliable website and streaming services, having a strong social media presence can enhance engagement too, particularly among new members. The face of church shopping has changed. Most visitors attend for the first time because they have checked out your online activity and like what they see. Maintaining a vibrant social media presence can give them a casual, easy way to interact before they ever walk in the door.
Don't Forget Meaningful Traditions
Growth should never come at the expense of retention. There are probably time-honored traditions in your congregation, such as events that you hold every year or seasons that you observe together. Holding on to the ones that are the most meaningful to your members helps you maintain a strong community that is likely to appeal to those who have been attending for decades as well as newcomers.
Do Remain Open to New Ideas
Change is an inevitable part of growth. New people may not shift your basic doctrines, but they can have great ideas of how to incorporate your principles into the life of the church. Saying, "But that's the way we've always done it," is not a viable argument against change. Conversely, a willingness to listen and pursue new paths is very attractive to those looking for a place where they belong.
Don't Overwork Volunteers
The church thrives on the involvement of its members. It's easy to fall into the habit of relying on those who always seem to say, "Yes!" with enthusiasm and a smile. By always turning to the same people, however, you are not only potentially robbing someone else of the chance to serve but also putting your faithful volunteers in danger of burnout. There are several areas of the church where people tend to get stuck once they take on the task:
- Homebound ministries
- Event planning
Do Encourage Widespread Involvement
There are several strategies you can use to avoid the habit of over-reliance on the volunteers. One way to accomplish this is to impose term limits on lay leadership roles. Unless a committee head or teacher is a paid position, there needs to be a set end in sight to one person's service. Of course, if they miss doing a particular job, they can always come back to it after a certain amount of time, but everyone needs a break, even if they don't realize it.
For term limits to work without interruption to the task itself, an ongoing recruitment and mentoring program should also be in place. New teachers, committee leaders, and others who are willing to take on more responsibility should shadow the outgoing ones during the last phase of their service term.
There is no one correct way to expand your church, but there are several healthy habits that can foster new growth. By creating an organizational culture that is committed to serving and receptive to change, you are more likely to see your attendance and membership numbers rise.