I hate it when a church gets stuck.
Especially if that church is mine.
In 2001, New Song moved from a leased facility with a 200 seat auditorium to our own facility with a 600 seat auditorium.
Everything increased, except our capacity to care.
Attendance rocketed from 500 to 1,100 in one month. Then we started a slow slide to 750. I called it “Living on the backside of a miracle.”
The church had grown, but our Care System hadn’t. So as new people came in the front door, older people slipped out the back.
There are only two ways to increase the size of your church: widen the front door, and narrow the back door. Moving into a larger building on a prominent street massively widened our front door. We needed a scalable Care System in order to close our backdoor.
Our problem was a systems problem.
Almost all church stagnation situations are systems problems.
In my case, I needed to work on our Care System. Once we did that, we broke the 1,000 barrier and have never looked back.
Everything is made up of systems.
God loves systems. Our planet is part of a solar system. Your body has twelve systems. (All of them are vital, though some seem obscure. What’s an integumentary system?) Your family is a system. The ants in your yard operate as a system. So do the birds and the bees.
Churches are made up of nine systems:
- Your Assimilation System determines how well and how many people get and stay connected to your church.
- Your Outreach System influences how many people visit and come to Christ in your church.
- Your Financial System affects how much and how well money is managed.
- Your Discipleship System guides how well people grow in Christ.
- Your Ministry Placement System directs how well people find places to serve and how happily and effectively they serve.
- Your Worship Planning System impacts the style and quality of your worship experiences.
- Your Care System controls how well people are cared for.
- Your Evaluation System determines your rate of improvement.
- Your Facilities System dictates how you manage your facilities.
Which system should I work on first?
What system do you need to work on right now? That depends.
The systems of a church are like the staves of a barrel.
Each of the vertical boards is called a “stave.” Each system in your church is its own stave. Water can only rise to the level of the lowest stave. If you’ve got a broken stave, fix it first.
Your broken system could be a non-existent front door, meager per-capita giving, cramped facilities, awkward worship, etc. None of those problems will fix themselves. To get out of trouble, you’ll need to improve that system.
It’s more likely that you need to work on all your systems.
To increase the size of your church, you’ve got to increase the quality of each of your nine systems. If no particular system is hemorrhaging, start with Assimilation, because there’s no sense bringing more people in your front door if you’re going to make a poor first impression.
Once a good Assimilation System is in place, it’s time to increase your number of visitors by enhancing your Outreach System. In order to pay for your outreach tools, you’ll want to improve your Financial System.
Churches improve incrementally by improving one system at a time.
Work on your ministry this week by deciding which system to work on first.
Hal Seed is the founding and Lead Pastor of New Song Community Church in Oceanside, CA. He mentors pastors who want to lead healthy, growing churches with resources at www.pastormentor.com.
Start Here to learn more about the resources available for you at PastorMentor.