Month <span class=June 2015" src="">

Month June 2015

20% Growth!

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20% Growth! (for one day)

Clearly, in a smaller church context, we were doing something right when it came to getting the Word out.  The trouble was that we weren’t keeping the people in.

I remember it vividly – a Sunday morning that brought in 42 new visitors at once, among a congregation that typically ran 200.  42 visitors!  The balcony was full!  The place was buzzing with excitement.

As a young pastor, I was thrilled. We had launched an outreach campaign a few weeks previously, and we’d sent out thousands of content-rich magazines to give people biblical answers to common life problems.  And here we were, seeing some very tangible fruit.

Then there was a day when we’d jumpstarted a multi-site campus option and saw 92 people stream into the service – just a few weeks after launch day.  Wow!

But sadly, most of those 42 never returned.

The next week we had less than 50 attendees.

Clearly, in a smaller church context, we were doing something right when it came to getting the Word out.  The trouble was that we weren’t keeping the people in.

  • Was it our antiquated building?
  • Was it our stretched-too-thin staff?
  • Was it a lack of follow-up?
  • Or a lack of immediate engagement opportunities for newcomers?
  • Was it my preaching?
  • Was something unclear, or unsaid, or undone?

I’m sure all of those were factors.  But at the core, what I think we were missing during those learning experiences was a comprehensive strategy.

We had an excellent game plan to get the gospel into the hands of people around us.  We had a workable (though probably not excellent) strategy for getting people to visit our services.  But altogether, we needed a strategic plan that would have tied together things I had been treating as independent challenges:

- our need for better worship spaces

- our need for additional team members/funding for staff

- our need for small group and follow-up apparatus

-our need for clear spiritual growth plans and on-ramps to those plans

A robust strategic plan would have organized and prioritized those challenges for us.  That’s why inviting Leadership Outreach to assist your church as it reaches out and grows is a step worth taking.

Perhaps, when your 42-visitor-Sunday arrives, you’ll be ready.  The systems, the seating, the staffing, the programs, and the spiritual health of the church – it will all be ready to accommodate the harvest.

But those things won’t ready themselves. We have to be intentional.  We have to have a plan.

By the way: Our church celebrated the success of our outreaches in hitting our primary target – which was to get the gospel out.  We wanted the kingdom to grow more than our church organization.  We definitely saw spiritual fruit on a large scale (relative to our church size), and I would do the whole program again in a heartbeat.  But next time, I want to be more intentional about what happens next – about how we connect the dots for people who enter the front door.

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Challenge Questions

If you had a 20% first-time visitor Sunday, would your infrastructure be ready for it?

Are you boldly outreaching in a way that makes this problem a realistic one to worry about?

Do you have a strategic plan to love, serve and share with the next visitor who walks in the door?

Dan Jarvis is a certified strategists with Leadership Outreach and a free-lance writer. He is the editor of Revive! Magazine, a publication of Life Action Ministries. Dan is the author of Commissioned, a book detailing the explosive growth of the local church in India. Dan can be reached at Dan@leadershipoutreach.com.