Best Methods For Outreach/Church Growth

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Thousand Hills, Mar 6, 2011.

  1. Thousand Hills

    Thousand Hills
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    Just want to get some ideas from my fellow BB members.

    Okay, here is a little background, our church averages 100 to 120 any given Sunday. Attendance for SS is probably around 80 or so. Sunday night and Wednesday night services drop off significantly to probably 30 or so (Wednesday night is mostly Choir members), not including 10 to 20 youth and children for youth programs. Demographics of the church our estimated as follows (65% Seniors), (10% Young Families with Children 30's to 40's), (5% College/Twenties), (10% Youth/Teens), (10% Children). We do have a bus ministry on Sunday and Wednesday nights. Services are traditional with mainly hymns, no praise band, CCM, etc. Our church is located in a downtown setting, with limited parking and no room for future growth/expansion. We have adequate area for classrooms/small groups, but a relatively small fellowship hall for events/fellowships.

    Obviously with the older age of the congregration, we have lost several members in the past few years, with deteriorating health others have gone to nursing homes or are limited in their ability to come without help from relatives,etc.

    Over the past few years, other members have left due to relocation, and other typical reasons.

    The limited number of young families are less faithful in regular attendance due to many that have to work on Sunday, travel, sick kids, etc. Obviously, it is hard to grow consistency in the youth and childrens programs without consistency from regular members, additionally with few young families I'm sure that visiting young families are probably discouraged from joining.

    I feel our church is biblically sound (no ear tickling), and welcoming to visitors. I do not necessarily see cliques or barriers for new members to serve, but feel the older members of the congregation could have better interaction with the younger generation (youth without parents present, etc.). Within the past year there has been a concerted effort to reach members who have stopped coming.

    Our town and surrounding area is generally growing, both with young families and retirees. As with most areas of the Bible Belt, there are churches on every corner of all denominations.

    Given the factors I outlined, where should outreach efforts be most concentrated?. Obviously, its the duty of each member to be witnessing and inviting friends, family members, co-workers to church. And I feel that if we are being faithful in preaching sound doctrine, God will lead new people to the church.

    In other threads some have mentioned the elimination of Sunday night and Wednesday night services in order to be replaced with small groups. I'm not sure this would work given our older demographics.

    I would be interested in hearing though about the sucess others have had with new member orientation classes. We do not have anything like this right now, and I think it would be a good idea as a means for new and prospective members to build relationships and learn more about areas where they can serve.

    Thanks. Sorry for the long post. I'm sure the situation I presented is not uncommon, but just wanted to get some input from others.
     
    #1 Thousand Hills, Mar 6, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 6, 2011
  2. blackbird

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    I read a statistic sometime ago----I remember the stat but don't remember the source so don't hold me to the #'s if someone comes along to trip me up or tangle me up on them(hey---you know how Baptists are!!)

    1% of new members join because they liked the facilities----they come to church and make a mental note of the looks of the place and then make a decision to join or not

    1% of new members join because they like the preacher---his deliverance, mannerisms, behavior in the pulpit

    98% of new members join because someone in the congregation invited them to attend and encouraged them to join them in membership----usually a family member, neighbor, co-worker, friend(at the fishing/deer club, etc.)---we've lost 2 families recently because they both had friends at other churches(more than 15 miles away from us) who invited them to "come check things out over here!"---they are both willing to drive that extra distance to be with good friends!!!

    Three keys to church growth---#1 Personal Invitation #2 Personal Invitation #3 Personal Invitation

    Blackbird
    :saint::saint::saint:
     
    #2 blackbird, Mar 7, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 7, 2011
  3. Gina B

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    Good question. Give me a day or two...just wrote and sold the answer to that question. LOL Seriously. If I post it after selling it I could get busted for plagiarism so gotta wait and link it.
     
  4. matt wade

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    Preach the Gospel and pray. Seriously. No need for fancy gimmicks or programs. Your entire church just needs to get on board and pray for the power of God to work through your lives. Go out and preach the Gospel to people and invite them to church.
     
  5. glfredrick

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    A couple of assumptions...

    The people surrounding the church are now a different culture than the congregation.

    The style of the congregation makes them happy, but does little to reach out to those who don't know that style or who find that style dead or worse.

    The teaching of the church is "noun-based" instead of "verb-based" (i.e., disseminating information instead of placing the congregation into the story and giving them a "so what" moment).

    The people outside the church are seen as problems instead of lost souls in need of love, ministry, and mission.

    The congregation often considers how it can return to the glory days, and wishes to "try harder", "more often," etc., instead of "try different" and "be creative."

    There may be some disconnect between the gospel and culture, which is hindering the growth into the neighborhood.

    The building is not being utilized in such a way as to implement growth, such as hosting a new church plant in the time slot held for Sunday night services, which are poorly attended enough to cause them to be a financial drain on the church instead of an avenue to real ministry.

    Real solutions to all these issues exist, even in Bible belt are churches with a building on every corner. One could assume that there are more lost people than churched, even with a lot of congregations around the neighborhood.
     
  6. SBCPreacher

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    AMEN, Blackbird!

    I believe that relationship evangelism is the key.
     
  7. Gina B

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  8. matt wade

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    You can take this list and throw it in the trash. Not once in this list is preaching the Gospel to the lost mentioned. That's how you grow a church, not by creating programs for everyone under the sun.
     
  9. Gina B

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    While I appreciate your enthusiasm for the topic, there are a couple things to consider.

    1. The church is made up of believers, not lost people.

    2. When people DO use ministries as outreach to unbelievers, they do so with the intention of telling unbelievers about Jesus. Some people respond immediately to knocking on their door unexpected with a presentation. Others refuse but will allow you the opportunity through other methods of interaction.

    In other words, I stand by and support ministries of the church and different ways of helping people grow in Christ. I stand by and support ministries of the church that minister to unbelievers who, without being reached out to, would deny you the opportunity to share Christ with them.
     
  10. matt wade

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    According to the article you posted, the church should be a coffee shop with grief and divorce counseling. Skits and plays will be put on there with the occasional senior luncheon.

    There isn't a single mention of Jesus Christ or the preaching of His Gospel. What sort of church are you attempting to build? One that glorifies Christ, or one that is a social center? I've been involved in both and the social center is fun and all, but it is missing the point. The church is to train up its members in the ways of the Lord and then send them out to preach the Gospel. The social center this article talks about doesn't glorify Christ, it simply feeds the desires of man.

    You can have a building full of people, but it isn't a church until Jesus Christ is the center of it.
     
  11. glfredrick

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    I checked out your church from your profile. Nice looking place. I noticed that you have under 20 youth in the photo. What are you doing to grow that department? What about growth in the church overall?

    How does "preaching the gospel" reach out to people outside the church (and note that I am not suggesting that we do not preach the gospel, just wondering how that actually works for outreach and if it does, why your own church appears to be rather on the smallish side)?
     
  12. freeatlast

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    Sheep make sheep. Shepherds only direct and protect the sheep. The best method is when the sheep go and tell and the shepherds pray and study the word to direct and protect while some sow, and some water and God gives the increase. Nothing works any better.
     
  13. matt wade

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    Our church languished in attendance a few years ago. I actually joined this church about a year ago myself. The church is actively going into the community and preaching the Gospel. We are teaching our youth to not be afraid to reach out to their friends at school and in their neighborhoods. We actually run about 25-30 now in the youth group and the size of that group has doubled in the past year.

    Preaching the Gospel is exactly what reaches out to people outside the church. Lost people, once saved, strive to align themselves with God's will. Part of His will is for them to go to church. If a church is actively preaching the Gospel to the lost, those that get saved with look for a church home.

    We run over 200 on Sunday mornings. A couple of years ago we were at half that. God is blessing our church as we remain faithful in preaching the Gospel.
     
  14. Osage Bluestem

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    I am not a person who has ever been in a community very long. I have moved a lot all my life. So, when I come to look for a church I do not expect to know anyone there. Whenever I am in a situation where I need to find a new church I look for the following:

    1. Faithfullness to the word of God.
    2. Good mix in the congregation old, young, middle...etc.
    3. Atmosphere (how people get along and treat visitors)
    4. Worship and study schedules.

    I really don't like the music ministry. I think it takes up too much valuable time in the worship service. So I am never satisfied in that area all churches are a compromise for me musically. I like a short reverent music service followed by a long period of prayer and preaching. Like in the old Reformed Churches. That really doesn't exist in any Baptist Churches so I don't even consider the music anymore when I look to join a church as I know I'm probably not going to like it anyway. I really don't like upbeat songs where people start to dance and stuff. It repulses me. But I put up with it because the words glorify God. I don't know why there is so much emphasis on music in the modern church. But if we wish to advance the kingdom and promote unity among the brethren we wil not always get things the way we want them :)

    Anyway the top 4 things are what I consider. I visited virtually every Church in my area before I decided to join the one I am a member of now. It is a good church.
     
    #14 Osage Bluestem, Mar 8, 2011
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  15. nodak

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    Every time I hear or read the idea that "how this church does church suits its members but doesn't fit the culture so it must change or die" I cringe.

    I cringe because we are not to fit the culture, but to change the culture.

    Better to be a faithful church and let God add to the church those being saved.

    Now, that said, of course each member must be guarding their lifestyle so as not to smudge their witness. And they need to be witnessing to the lost.

    Doesn't hurt to preach evangelistically often. Amazing number of unsaved church members these days need to hear it. And hearing evangelism from the pulpit fires up the members to evangelize.

    But today we often confuse numerical growth with a healthy church. And we often decide we have to do whatever the unbeliever or the "youth" want.

    Yet the scripture makes it plain we are to preach the gospel, and that will be a scandal and a stumbling block to many. Also teaches the youth to follow the elder (not an office, but age and time saved bring wisdom).

    We have made mid week and Sunday night services sacrosanct, but they really aren't. Those than can come and will benefit will be there. Those with heavy job responsibilities, young children, ill health, etc won't. Not a problem unless we make it one.

    Church growth tactics are actually man made schemes to grow the church.

    Yet the Bible is quite clear, to both Calvinist and Arminian lines of thought, that God grows the church.

    If we are a planter, plant. If we are a waterer, water. If we are harvesters, harvest.

    But it is dangerous and risky to try to play Holy Spirit.
     
  16. Don

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    AGREED.

    Kind of like, "people are like this in the movies and on TV, so we should act that way, too...."
     
  17. North Carolina Tentmaker

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    Sounds like you are doing a lot of things right already Thousand Hills. I understand your concern over demographics and your desire for growth, but do you think God wants your church to grow? How much?

    Every church I have served, as member or pastor, had unique ministries. There may be a church on every corner, but there are individuals and ministries that only your church can reach. What are the unique ministries of your church? That is where your outreach needs to be focused.

    The second area I would focus on would be your community. You are apparently in an urban setting. What are the needs of the community where your church is located and what are you doing to meet those needs?

    Third I would look at your current membership. You mentioned the lack of room for growth and the limited parking. Do you think God might want your church to relocate. Make a map of your members. Get a county road map and put a pin in each member’s home. Then tell me if your church is located in the best place to minister to your current members. That should tell you if you need to consider relocation.

    Minister to those you already have and God will send growth. That growth is not always in numbers. Where we life a church attendance of 120 would make you the largest church in town. I have been a member of a mega church but I prefer a smaller church. 50-75 works just fine for me, sometimes I wonder why people would want more. Of course I will serve wherever led.

    You specifically asked about new member orientation classes. I have not seen these as an outreach tool as much as a discipleship tool. Now let me ask, do you mean new member or new believer because there is of course a big difference. New Believer classes, either as a Sunday School class or as a small group meeting before evening services new believer classes are a great tool for retaining new members and building the biblical foundation your members need. New member orientation? Is your church so large that new members are unaware of facilities or ministries?
     
  18. Thousand Hills

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    Thanks everybody for the replies, there has been good discussion in this thread as well as the other one that Nodak started which was similar. In retrospect I should have maybe phrased my questions a little different, but I think North Carolina Tentmaker kind of hit on some of what I was getting at. So I will try to reply to his questions for clarification. I guess I see two sides to a coin, personal evangelism/community outreach, and new member retention (those who join and for whatever reason never get really involved and then leave or stop coming).

    Yes, It is obviously in the Lord's hands. I think we just need to be focused on whether or not we are doing all God has called us to do, and avoid complacency/stagnation (this is the way it will always be mentality).

    I hope I don't get beat up for this, but is it wrong for a church to have its own niche? Obviously we should minister to whoever walks through the doors, but if we are primarily composed of seniors should we focus most of our efforts on the retirees coming to the area. Or since we are traditional in service, stick with that, when other nearby churches have transistioned to praise & worship.

    I think there are probably opportunities that we could improve our visibility in the community through service, etc.

    Very historic building, doubt that relocation would ever happen. I would guess 50% of members are within a 5 min drive, the rest within 10 to 15 minutes. To my understanding in the past during times of growth, several other churches have been started. One of which is nearby and is now significantly larger.

    Agree, I don't think it should be about "noses and nickles". Personally, I've experienced significant growth in my time there (still have a long way to go :saint:), but I'm thankful for the sound preaching and the love shown by others. I like the size of the church as its not so large that you can't get to know a majority of the people.

    As I've thought about it more, some kind of prospective member/new member orientation fellowship would be good. Something where if someone comes from another denomination they can better understand Baptist distinctives, or just get to know others who are interested in joining, and get to know SS teachers and other church staff. I don't feel like there are barriers for new members to serve, but are we working to find the best ways for a new person to fit in to a particular service area, and are we persistent in continuing to build relationships once someone has joined?
     
  19. glfredrick

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    But what is bringing those people IN to hear the preaching? Certainly you are not standing on street corners with a bullhorn (as is one man I know here in Louisville). Are you knocking on doors and sharing Christ? Are you hosting public events? Or is it just word of mouth from a church member to someone else?
     
  20. glfredrick

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    EVERY church has a culture. Most refuse to consider that their culture is in fact a culture. Unless you still look, speak, act, and follow all the dictates of the 1st century church of the early chapters of Acts, you HAVE a culture that stems from some other age. What makes THAT culture special or desirable above any other culture?

    I know how pious your words sound -- we focus on God alone and all -- but you do have a culture, so why ignore that aspect of what you do?
     

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