The Congregational Development Corner
10 for 10 (10 steps for 10 percent growth)
During the 2016 Annual Conference session, action steps for congregational growth were shared during a Fruitfulness in Evangelism panel discussion, moderated by Rev. Jay Hanson, director of Congregational Development. Five clergy – Rev. Antonie Walker, Rev. Leigh Ann Raynor, Rev. Hale Bishop, Rev. Matt Hearn, and Rev. Jim Cowart – each shared two key tools for evangelism and growth and together gave clergy and lay attendees 10 action steps for 10 percent growth.
In the next several Advocate issues Congregational Development will share articles to give you and your congregation practical steps for church growth and development.
Reach and Teach!!!
By Rev. Antonie E. Walker
Without question, growth and development have become obsessions of the church. That’s particularly because of the longtime decline of membership and worship attendance across denominational lines. Books have been published and conferences have been developed around these themes, but often with principles that aren’t exactly applicable in every context. The objective of this article is to give practical and user friendly advice on how to create an atmosphere for growth in your congregation.
At the ground floor of your church’s numerical development is reaching and teaching. I know, I know, you’re probably saying, “We’re a Great Commission church; loving people and sharing the gospel isn’t our problem.”
I’d implore you to revisit those thoughts. Faith communities are to be welcoming of all, expecting attendance records to be broken weekly because you’ve invited everybody and not just somebody to be a part of the Sunday fellowship.
To reach people, the implication is that we leave the sanctuary. So the goal is to not merely be a church in the community but to become a community church. Have a block party, give away gift cards on Sunday morning, create a happy hour café prior to worship, make flyers that advertise a creative sermon series, abbreviate Sunday worship and make the afternoon a fun day, have a free car wash, and offer your sanctuary for funerals to families who aren’t members of a church. My point is – REACH!
Reaching people doesn’t have to be expensive nor does it require you to already be a large church. The only prerequisite for reaching is for you to be so in love with Jesus that you just can’t keep him to yourself, so you innovatively share him. That’s it! Don’t be so rigid in your methods that you miss your ministry target. Remember, when you’re fishing, different fish need different bait. Sometimes you have to switch up your methods; the important thing is that you get the biggest catch, not that you’re the most comfortable in the process.
Teaching is the other facet of this union. They go hand in hand. Discipleship begins with reaching, but it continues with teaching/preaching. Here’s a few words of advice that aren’t in any specific order. I’ve found them to be effective in communicating the gospel and developing healthy disciples.
- Plan your preaching, at least quarterly. This allows you to advertise what’s coming next (just like movies). Also, it helps you to be more creative so you can teach people by affecting all of their senses. If you aren’t that creative, form a small team of members in your church who are and allow them to help you flesh out your sermon.
- Preach in series. It builds anticipation and it gives a sense of ease in delivery because you’re not under pressure to explain the entire story in one sermon.
- Make teaching/preaching interactive. Use cell phones for social media, and have demonstrations that include worshippers.
Rev. Antonie Walker is Senior Servant of Grace Corner Church in Macon. It’s an innovative restart that’s growing with the motto, “No Judgment, Just Jesus!” Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.