I have never met a person in a church that hoped their church would close. They have never said to me, “Drew, I just wish people would leave this church and go somewhere else.” It is almost universally true that Christians connected to churches hope that more people come to church. It’s not just about having a bigger congregation. It’s not just about feeling good during programming. It’s certainly not all about money. It’s about connecting people to the divine. It is through the church that we experience true community and are given purpose.
As we continue our discussion on worship services, a timely article from Pew Research Center has been released (8/23/16) regarding how Americans choose a church. (Full Publication) Though there are certainly many factors of why people go to church or choose a new church, four things in particular tower over the rest. Below are the top reasons people choose their new church home.
- 83% Quality of Sermons
- 79% Feeling Welcomed by Leaders
- 74% Style of Services
- 70% Location
Many people claim that a quality youth or children’s program is the best way to get people to church, but that only played a factor in 56% of people’s final decision. The primary reason people choose a new place to call their church home is based on Sunday morning worship. 85% of church seekers attended the worship service to evaluate, and nearly 70% talked to members or friends/colleagues about the congregation. The data suggests that the reason a church grows or declines is up to its leaders and members. In other words, it is up to you to grow your church!
This research highlights the importance of the question we asked in my previous post: “How does (insert element of worship) hinder or help one’s ability to hear the good news?”
So what can we do?
Pastors – Work on your sermons. Do your homework and exegete, study, and pray over the text. Connect the text to the lives of those who show up. We are to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, so when you preach hit all four of those areas.
Members – You are the leaders. There is no church if it is just a pastor in a sanctuary. Welcome those who are around you that you do not know. Talk with them. Get to know them. Tell them how much the church has meant to you. And here’s a big one: Invite people to worship.
Worship – Let there be nothing in the worship service that is a stumbling block except for the cross of Christ. Determine what each part of worship accomplishes. If it is not helpful, let it go. If you feel awkward, visitors feel awkward. Something you have done for years may have lost its purpose.
Though every churchgoer that I know wants the church to grow, they are not always willing to do what it takes. Are you and your church willing to do what it takes to reach your community?