Ray Evans has written two excellent books – Ready Steady Grow and Church Leadership – he also has posted on the FIEC website over the last couple of years, some excellent articles on Growing as a Leader.
1. It is tiring keeping evangelism at the top of the church’s agenda. Why? Ultimately, because of unseen forces of evil seeking to destroy God’s good purposes. But there are other factors to be aware of.
– Running a church takes a lot of time and effort, whatever stage and size you are. It is very easy for church leaders to spend all their time with Christians.
– You put on courses, and people who says they are keen to come, drop out.
– People show interest in the gospel, appear to understand it clearly, then say “It’s not for me”.
2. “Leaders of growing churches put themselves near the people coming towards faith. They get to know them and they make sure they invest their time and best efforts to win these people as converts before establishing them in their new faith, as the Lord works in them.”
3. A popular idea is for leaders to spend time investing in the most promising disciples to turn them into disciples who make other disciples. But often they can take up a huge amount of the leader’s resources and energy without becoming effective evangelists of outsiders.
4. Common today for there to be weak attendance at Sunday evening meetings. Around 1 in 4 FIEC churches don’t have an evening service at all.
5. “More people coming but less often.” As a church grows the regularity of attendance slips. When 25% or more may be away on any one Sunday, church is challenging. Why is this happening? Consumerism. Spiritual superficiality. It is probably more complex than that.
6. The challenge of students going off to university never to return.
7. One Christian leader estimated that half of all Christians in Britain aged under 30 live in London.
8. Personal connection can be as significant to attendance as something that’s nearby.
9. An organisational pathway starts with ATTRACTION, moves on to RECOGNITION/IDENTIFICATION and leads to INTEGRATION.
10. Attraction is everything from your website and media presence, good signage, publicity, to the greeting from the welcome team.
11. Recognition is about spotting new people and warmly relating to those returning for a second, third, or fourth time. Vital at this stage are invites to hospitality, information, and introduction to others who can identify with them.
12. Integration is to help new people really feel part of the church. How does that happen? Suggestions include a ‘meet the pastors’ lunch and ‘induction shaped’ course that covers Family Values (why the church looks like it does today – history, mission, vision and values); Family Life (how the church is structured and run, and what individual’s responsibilities are commitments are); Your Role in the Family (contribution you can make). After these, the process of bringing someone into membership can begin for those who want to proceed.
(Photo: Brad Neathery)