Case Study: How to Use a Giveaway to Encourage Spiritual Growth in Your Church

Case Study: How to Use a Giveaway to Encourage Spiritual Growth in Your Church

If you’ve ever been to a conference or even to a child’s birthday party, you know that not all giveaways are useful.

There’s a goody bag of plastic doodads that were presented to you without any context, and you’re not sure what to do with them (besides throw them in the trash).

But when Peachtree Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, GA decided to do a giveaway, they made sure it had purpose.

It all began when Dr. Vic D. Pentz, former Senior Pastor of Peachtree, sent out an introductory column to the congregation titled, “Can’t Wait for Sunday.” In it, he gave a preview of how meaningful the giveaway would be: “This Sunday I’m giving you a gift. It’s a book that changed my life.”

Have a Clear Purpose

There’s much to learn from and a few actionable steps any church can put into practice based on the way Peachtree Presbyterian did this giveaway.

First, there was a clear purpose in place before anything was handed out to the congregation.

Peachtree decided to give congregants copies of Kenneth Boa’s book, Handbook to Prayer: Praying Scripture Back to God. Why? The book had a major impact on the spiritual growth and prayer life of the Senior Pastor, and he wanted the congregation to experience growth as well.

The church was also about to introduce a new series on prayer titled, “Just Lift a Finger” based on the famous image on the Sistine Chapel ceiling of Adam’s and God’s fingers inches apart. “God is so very near, just waiting to touch our lives with His grace and power,” Dr. Pentz said to the congregation. “All Adam has to do is lift his finger. Any time, day or night, you can too.”

Not only would Handbook to Prayer help the congregation learn to pray Scripture, but it would also help them apply and put into practice what they learn in the prayer series on Sundays.

Have a Clear Presentation

The Senior Pastor of Peachtree Presbyterian introduced the Handbook to Prayer giveaway to the congregation first in writing, and then at the start of the sermon series.

In the sermon, he explained the spiritual discipline of praying Scripture and the power of prayer. He then tied in the giveaway of Handbook to Prayer to equip the congregation to practice what they’re learning.

You can listen to the three sermons in the series here:

  1. Can I Pray My Way to Happiness?
  2. Do Prayers Really Change Things?
  3. Why Does God Want So Much Praise?

Peachtree handed the handbook out at the door as people came in—allowing them to use them during the worship service and take their copy home after service. They started with 3,000 copies and eventually needed to order 1,000 more.

The congregation was given clear instructions for how to pick up their free book, what the book will teach them, how it’s important for their spiritual development, how it ties into the sermon series, and a specific way to use it.

Have a Clear Call to Action

Dr. Pentz’s presentation of the book led the way for an action step that he laid out in the first sermon of the prayer series: “What if instead of just working harder, you started working smarter by spending ten minutes a day in the presentation of God, meditating on scripture and in prayer? Use the Handbook to Prayer we’ve given you to do so over the next six weeks.”

Peachtree Presbyterian called this initiative “The Peachtree Challenge.” The congregation’s challenge was to spend at least ten minutes each day in focused prayer and meditation on God’s Word over the next six weeks using the Handbook to Prayer. “Imagine!” Dr. Pentz said. “With Ken’s book as our guide, we’ll have thousands of us beginning our day in the Word and lifting up our lives, families, city, and world to God.”

Dr. Pentz encouraged the congregation to be creative with the challenge, doing their daily prayer and meditation in parking lots if they had to. A challenge like this one gives those who might be new to the spiritual discipline of prayer a simple way to start. It encourages the congregation to make prayer a habit and a priority.

When it’s time for your church’s next giveaway, remember the case of Peachtree Presbyterian. A giveaway with a clear purpose, presentation, and call to action will help your congregation understand, apply, and grow from the gift you’ve given. If you’re not ready to give a book to your entire congregation, giving a book like this to new graduates or new leaders is helpful and impactful as well.

Which spiritual disciplines are you teaching at your church that a resource giveaway could help with? What can you do to make sure your church’s next giveaway is clearly presented and purposeful? How can you provide a clear call to action that helps your church use what they’ve been given to grow spiritually?

For information on how to order Handbook to Prayer in bulk for your church, contact Heather Cottingham.

3 Social Media Principles Your Church Should Live By

3 Social Media Principles Your Church Should Live By

Knowing what to share on social media can feel overwhelming.

Every time you open your social media accounts, you’re encouraged to share something:

  • Facebook asks: What’s on your mind?
  • Twitter’s wondering: What’s happening?
  • LinkedIn’s requesting: Share an article, photo, video or idea

It doesn’t matter what social media platform your church uses.

All of them are on 24–7–365, and they are always asking for you to share something.

(This makes me feel a bit anxious just thinking about it.)

Before moving on, take a deep breath.

Even though social media platforms are vying for your attention, you don’t have to feel overwhelmed by their constant demands. There’s a way your church—even if it's “small”—can effectively engage your congregation and reach new people without breaking down in the process.

Below I’m going to share with you three social media principles your church should live by. Before we dive in, let’s take a moment for a public service announcement.

Social media platforms and principles

Here’s what you need to know about social media:

The platforms are different, but the principles remain the same.

Every social media platform differs in some way.

From Facebook to Twitter to Snapchat, the social media platforms influence what you share and how you interact with other people.

For example, on Twitter, your tweets are limited to 280 characters—news breaks faster, and engagement is near instantaneous. Whereas Facebook’s user base makes it ideal to engage with your church and connect with people in your community. When it comes to posting on Facebook, unlike Twitter and Instagram, it’s best not to use a ton of hashtags.

Here’s the deal:

The social media platform you use will determine how your church should use it.

In other words, what posts work well on Twitter or Instagram may not work as well on Facebook or Snapchat.

So you’re probably wondering:

What works well on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, etc.?

Technically, there are ways you can optimize what you share on every social media platform. But I’m not going to walk you through the weeds of details today.

Instead, I want to share three social media principles that will influence how your church engages in social media. By building your social media strategy on these principles, in time, you’ll increase your engagement and reach more people in your community.

#1 – Share life in your church

Life in your church doesn’t start on Sunday, and it doesn’t end by lunch.

Assuming your worship service lasts for 1 hour, every member of your church still has another 167 hours of life to live throughout the week.

Know where they're spending their time?

If you guessed social media, you’re right.

According to Social Media Today, the average person in the United States spends 2 hours per day on social media. Here’s a breakdown of these eye-opening statistics:

  • Facebook: 35 minutes
  • YouTube: 40 minutes
  • Snapchat: 25 minutes
  • Instagram: 15 minutes
  • Twitter: 1 minute

Don’t lose sight of the importance of leading people to have face-to-face conversations. As a church leader, you want to ensure that people in your church are building relationships with other people in your church. This is what being the church is all about.

Here’s one thing you also don’t want to overlook:

People spend a lot of time on social media.

This isn’t a judgment, just an observation.

So, if you want to engage with your church and reach people in your community, you need to go where they’re spending time—and that’s on social media.

One of the best ways to do this is to share what life in your church looks like. From church activities to the everyday life of your pastor, staff, and volunteers, be purposeful to share what’s going on.

Remember, social media is about being social. Sharing the life of your church isn’t about promoting your church per se. It’s more about sharing material that will engage your church and be seen by people in your community, which will lead them to check out who you are and see what you’re all about.

#2 – Celebrate life in your church

Jesus is alive!

He is building his Church (Matt. 16:18), and he is at work in your church and community.

Think practically about this for a moment.

In your church, God is doing a lot of work:

  • He is giving people new life in Christ
  • He is restoring broken marriages
  • He is delivering people from crippling anxiety and depression
  • He is building a loving Christian community
  • He is giving people purpose
  • He is growing people in their faith
  • He is leading people to be generous with their time and money
  • What’s the bottom line?

There’s a lot for your church to celebrate.

Be prepared to capture these celebratory moments. Make a plan to share what’s going on.

Sidenote: If the nature of the story is personal, make sure you also obtain permission to share.

Here are celebratory examples for many churches:

  • Baptisms
  • Baby Dedications
  • Commitments to Jesus
  • Service in your community
  • Volunteers
  • Staff

To share the everyday life of your church, be prepared ahead of time by having a staff member or volunteer take pictures or shoot videos of an upcoming event.

During the event itself, get someone else (staff or volunteer) ready to share photos and videos on social media. It's ideal to share on social media what’s going on as it’s going on—this is all about being social.

#3 – Share your church’s worship service

In your church, you have an endless amount of material you can share—especially content from your weekly worship service.  

There are a variety of benefits to sharing your worship services on social media, such as:

  • Boosting engagement
  • Increasing awareness
  • Inviting people to participate
  • Giving people a taste of life in your church
  • Reaching new people
  • Connecting with absentees

Speaking of reaching new people, sharing your worship services on social media or online for others to see will help first-time guests feel more comfortable.

Think about it.

It’s intimidating for first-time guests to visit your church’s worship service—even if a close friend personally invited them.

They’re entering foreign territory.

They don’t know what to expect.

They’re not sure how they’ll fit in.

The burden of “what if’s” can be crushing for potential visitors. But you can answer many objections, and help first-time guests feel more comfortable by sharing your weekend worship services on social media.

There are many ways you can share your worship service. Consider posting:

  • Photos
  • Livestreams
  • Service times and information
  • Quotes
  • Sermon audio or videos
  • Worship music
  • Behind the scenes
  • Church life updates or upcoming events

Again, it’s best to share life in your church as it’s taking place.

During your worship service, prepare your staff or volunteers to capture photos or videos of your worship service and have another person ready to share the goods on social media.

Over to you

If there’s one thing you take away from this post, let it be this:

Social media is all about social.

Everything you share doesn’t have to be professionally produced. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good idea to share high-quality material. But it’s essential to capture the daily moments of life in your church as they’re taking place.

Don’t overly stress about the quality of what you share. Instead, focus on being social and connecting your church—building relationships and reaching your community.  

How to Create an Inviting Culture in Your Church

How to Create an Inviting Culture in Your Church

Anything having to do with religion or the church can be really uncomfortable for most people to talk about. Maybe the only experiences people in your church have ever had with talking about church or inviting someone are downright painful.

So, rather than reliving an uncomfortable experience, they do nothing. They shy away. Not because they don’t want to invite people to your church, but because they don’t know how.

Instead of getting upset with your people, this is a great opportunity to teach them how to invite. This doesn’t have to be a weird thing. And you have the chance to show your people that. Inviting can become a normal part of your church’s life.

Here are five simple ways you can create a culture of invitation within your church.

1. Make Sunday service your priority.

Yes, we know that Jesus commissioned us to “go” and make disciples, but He also called us to gather together as a local church (Hebrews 10:25).

The reason this is so important is not to make your church look great, but to create an environment guests want to come back to. You don’t have to have fancy lights and a rockstar worship team to do this either.

You just need people who care about people.

If your pastor cares about people, he will preach gospel-centered sermons. If your staff cares about people, they’ll strive their best in their individual ministry areas. And when your church cares about people, they will want others to experience a Sunday at your church because it adds value to their life and personal faith.

If you need further help with this, here are five practical ways you can improve your weekend services.

But anyone can invite someone. How do you get someone to want to come back?

2. Practice Hospitality

It is easy to say your church is friendly. It is another to actually be warm and inviting to people who have never stepped foot in your building.

People want to feel seen, heard, and like they matter. And it is so easy to do this!

The best way to lead is by example.

Look around on a Sunday morning and ask: Who is standing around your lobby alone? Is anyone looking around or up at signs to try to figure out where to go? They’re likely new. And that’s a great opportunity for you to go up and greet them personally. You don’t have to ask for them to commit to membership on the spot—just welcome them and ask about them and what brought them to your church.

A great way to encourage others to have a warm and inviting mentality is to make personal asks. Something like…

“Hey Laura, I haven’t seen that woman in our cafe before. I think she’s a new guest. I think you are very approachable and would be a great person for her to connect with. Would you mind connecting with her?”

This is one of the most powerful strategies you can use to encourage and develop your existing members as leaders and to create that culture of inviting without adding shame or guilt to the mix.

3. Be completely present.

Recently, due to some serious health issues, I hadn’t made it to church in about a month or so. I was so excited to finally be feeling well again and to be back together with other believers, worshipping in song, and learning more of God’s Word from my pastor.

I came back to a few unsympathetic “it’s been a while” remarks and some people who greeted me, but looked like they were in a hurry and weren’t interested in talking to me. I felt unseen, unheard, and unimportant. And this was a place I was on staff at one point! I considered these people my family.

Imagine that being a guest at your church.

What reason would they have to come back?

People notice when you are glancing at your phone, your watch, someone else, or are hurriedly rushing through a conversation. You make time for the things that are important and people can sense when they are not important to you. That’s not to say there aren’t times where you have a lot going on and that happens—we’re human. But there are far more grown adults who still are on their phones in the middle of a meal with others than those who are not. This is not okay.

Let’s get practical. How do we avoid doing this when we have so much on our plate? Here are some tips:

  • Learn to listen. Listening is much more than hearing someone talk. Forbes has 10 great steps to learn to become an effective listener. People will come back to someone they feel listened by.
  • Let someone completely finish what they are saying before adding in what you have to say.
  • Be aware of your body language. Are your feet pointed towards the door? Are you being attentive? Nodding while the person is talking? Does the other person notice you are listening to what they are saying or is it like they are talking to a wall?
  • Are you dialed in to what the other person is feeling? Are you empathetic to what the other person is experiencing, even if you can’t fully relate to what they are going through?
  • Are you giving the other person the gift of unhurried time?

You can always ask a trusted friend (or spouse) how they feel like you listen and then to evaluate you using some of these new techniques. Even the best listener can always work on becoming a better one.

4. Be involved

Here’s what I mean.

It’s easier than ever to not have to leave your house. You can get groceries to delivered to your house, have your close friends over to watch a college football game, and continue to get into the same routine with the same people. We’re not against this, but try broadening out.

City Church in Tallahassee, FL does this well and we even have a case study on it in our Church Fuel Resource Library.

Here are some ways you can try to broaden your horizons:

  • Instead of forming an IM soccer team with your church, grab one or two friends and join an existing team.
  • Take a group exercise class to meet new people.
  • Take your dog to the dog park or dog events to meet other pet owners.
  • Get to know the local businesses in your area. You can build great relationships with them and even partner with them to do an event.
  • Volunteer at high school events to give parents a break to be able to actually watch their kids at their sport or performing art.
  • Partner with an event your city does every year (this could be anything from an Easter Egg Hunt to a local concert).
  • Go to local bookstore readings to get to know the literary scene better.

The great part about this is you don’t have to go out of your way to “evangelize.” People can tell when they’re a project and that’s not how you want to come across.

If you get involved in your city in things you already have an interest in, it becomes very natural to build relationships with people. And once they can see that you are a normal person that likes the same things that they do, you may completely change their perception of the local church. A little intentionality goes a long way.

4. Teach your people how to invite.

Most pastors assume their people know how to invite, but this may be foreign to some people.

You can talk through some of the points we’ve mentioned in this article to your church. If you don’t want to do this during a sermon (which we think is perfectly normal), you can mention these during member meetings, volunteer trainings, and small groups.

Andy Stanley also mentions to North Point regulars that they should look for three cues. When they are talking to someone else and they hear one of these three sentences:

  • Things are NOT going well…
  • I was NOT prepared for…
  • I am NOT from here….

Then that clues them in that that is a great opportunity to invite. You can point these out to your church as well.

Elevation Church also created graphics for their church to share on social media. This is a great and easy way to have your church share what is going on in your church on social media. You can even encourage people to tweet during the service!

Choose one of these action steps to begin creating a culture of invitation in your church today. What will you work on? Let us know.

Take a Next Step

The #1 barrier to church growth starts with you.

If the senior pastor, or church leaders, are not intentionally taking the time to get better, no one else will follow suit.

We know it can be difficult to know where to begin or even where to go to grow personally. That's why we developed a FREE resource for you.

The personal growth plan. All of us on staff at Church Fuel use it because it's that useful.

Take some time this week to fill this out and make your personal growth plan.

Get the free download below.

When People Don’t Want Your Church to Grow

When People Don’t Want Your Church to Grow

There’s this little BBQ joint near me.

It’s a hole in the wall place, frequented by locals and regulars who know a thing or two about low-and-slow BBQ.

The food is amazing.

The service is fast.

Even the sweet tea tastes better. And a big part of me absolutely, positively wants NOBODY else to know about it. Because if more and more people start going there, it will probably change.

They might change the menu to accommodate different tastes. Or I might have to park farther away or wait longer for a table. This place is great because it’s not crowded. And if other people discovered the greatness, I might stop going.

That’s exactly how some people view your church.

They like the preaching, the music, the people, and their favorite seat.

They like it the way it is, and if crowds of new people starting showing up, it would change.

See, while leaders love progress, most people like stability.

A large group of people in your church like their church the way it is right now. They don’t really want it to grow.

They are proud members of the ninety-nine, not vocally upset that you are going after the 1, but quietly saying, “What about me?” The ninety resist change, hoping all that vision-casting and forward thinking wears off soon.

The ninety-nine share their preferences and expect the church to cater to them. After all, they pay the bills; they fill the seats. That seat is squarely in the status quo, not opposed to reaching people with the Gospel, but not actively pursuing what will disrupt their lives.

So what do you do when you know your church needs to change but the people in the church resist that change?  What do you do when you believe the church should grow but the people in the church resist growth?

Here are six thoughts to consider.

#1 – Choose to be positive.

We all carefully construct the world around us to suit our preferences and desires. Both Millennials and Boomers like things the way they like them. Anytime something pushes up against our preferences and expectations, we push back.

Growth is hard, because change is hard. And the very thing you want to change FROM is the thing someone fought FOR in the past.

Choose to believe people resisting growth are not against people, against the Gospel, against the church, or against you.

They just like things the way they are.

Positivity in the face of resistance is hard, but a message of hope is best delivered with patience.

#2 – Be a pastor and a prophet.

Leading your church to growth will require courageous conversations and courageous decisions.

You know that.

You already feel that.

But depending on your personality, you’ll default to one of two positions.

The prophet points to the future.

The pastor looks to the people.

If your church is going to grow (and grow healthy), you need both of these voices of leadership. Your people need to hear the voice of the prophet, clearly articulating the WHY behind the mission and the vision of where your church is going.

But if your church is resisting change, they may need a pastor to help guide and shepherd them through transition.  This kind of immense patience isn’t always easy for a visionary leader.

You need to continually cast vision and clarify the current mission, but do it with the heart of a pastor.

#3 – Build a coalition.

I’m not saying this should be the case or that it’s the best model for leadership, I’m just calling out what exists in reality.

Every church has power brokers.

It could be people in official leadership roles or it could be influential or long-time members.

But if you want to move your church in any given direction, there are people you need to get on your side. They need to believe in you, not just the cause. They need to know the details, have a say in the decision, and know their part in the process.

  • If you want to start a second service, you need influential representatives from every ministry involved in the decision.
  • If you are changing the org chart or the structure of the church, you need influential leaders with relational equity to “sell” the change to people who have reservations.
  • If you are making a bold move that will disrupt the status quo, you need strong leaders who will stand with you and say “this is our decision.’”

A lot of church growth initiatives fail because there was not enough private buy in before there was a public campaign.

The bigger the change you’re trying to make, the more people and the more time you need.

#4 – Talk about what is NOT changing.

The Church has been around for more than 2,000 years and has gone through many cultural changes. But through all of that, the Great Commission and the Great Commandant have remained the north star.

In the midst of your vision casting, remind people what is NOT changing. Reassure people some things will stay the same forever.

No matter what kind of change is needed in your church, remind people the Gospel will never change.

Your tactics will come and go, but your purpose will stay the same.

Your programs may change with the times, but your mission takes precedence.

Reminding people what will never change will comfort those who are worried about “losing their church.”

#5 – Get outside help.

Once a quarter, I participate in a strategy meeting for a local non-profit. It’s an all-day meeting focused on reviewing the mission, setting quarterly goals, and breaking those goals into measurable (and accountable) tasks.

The executive team of the nonprofit participate in the meeting. But they bring in an outside facilitator to run the agenda. To be fair, this facilitator touches base in between meetings and runs those meetings according to a system.

Even though there are people qualified to run the show, and the agenda is the same nearly every time, they have an outside facilitator each time.

It’s not free.

It’s actually a sizeable investment.

But as a participant in this meeting, I can honestly say it’s worth every penny.  A highly engaged, but unemotionally invested outsider can bring perspective to an organization that you will never get otherwise.

Despite the expense, if you want to lead your church through a growth barrier, get some outside perspective.

#6 – Draw a line in the sand.

It’s important to believe the best about people.

It’s vital you act with patience, like a loving shepherd who cares about people.

It’s important to get the right people on your side, including strategic advisors with outside perspective.

With all that said, there will still come a time when you have to make a decision.

At some point, you have to stop talking and start doing.

It might be time to make a decision and live with the consequences.

Carey Nieuwhof summarizes it well in this post:

“If you’ve been in an honest dialogue for at least a year and are not making progress (that is, you haven’t made a plan for change you are ready to act on), you have come to a moment of truth.”

If you want to dive more into this growth mindset, check out The Senior Pastor's Guide to Breaking Barriers.  Just fill out the form below and we'll send you the PDF.

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Not everybody in your church wants it to grow.

But that’s not a barrier to stop you; it’s an obstacle to overcome. It’s an opportunity to stewardship the leadership God has given you.

Get some people around you to encourage you to keep going and to give you good advice along the way, but don’t give up.

Take a Next Step

If you’re looking for more help leading your church to growth, come join the Church Fuel Community.

We are a group of pastors and leaders who value practical coaching and resources and encourage one another to grow healthy. Reaching new guests and helping them get involved in the life of the church is a regular topic among our members.

Every month, we release a brand-new master class, covering topics like volunteers, connecting people, preaching, finances, and more.

Members also get access to a resource library full of documents, spreadsheets, and templates, including lots of church growth resources. There are members-only office hours and round tables where you can get personal help when needed.

There’s no long-term contract and a money back guarantee, so you can check it out without pressure. Learn more here.

3 Teams That Are Critical to Church Growth

3 Teams That Are Critical to Church Growth

Church growth should be a team effort, with God as the head of that team.

God has provided the people who are leading the church with you—staff and volunteers—and they need to understand their critical role in the health and growth of the church as a whole.

Each person and every ministry team they’re leading is important and their team’s operations can have an impact on the church’s future. But when it comes to Sundays, some teams have a more critical role in helping or hindering church growth than others.

Get these three teams healthy and on board with the church’s mission and strategy, and you’re well on your way to a growing church.

1. The Hospitality Team

Your church’s hospitality team are the first faces that people interact with when they visit your church. It’s critical for the Hospitality Team to understand the vital nature of their role. For a first-time guest or even a regular attender, a bad experience with a rude and unhelpful Hospitality Team member can lead to a decision to not ever come back through the doors of your church.

And it doesn’t take long to decide. According to Will Mancini, leader of church consulting firm Auxano, guests know within 11 minutes of driving up whether they’re coming back to your church or not. He said, in reference to evaluating the guest experience of your church, “It’s hard to overstate the wow factor a church body creates by serving generously through a system of hospitality.”

One thing you can do today to improve your church’s hospitality is schedule a meeting to plan a run-through of what it currently feels like for guests to come to your church. A few questions you can start with:

  • Are there signs or people (or both!) in place to make it easy for guests to identify where to enter, exit, and park?
  • How complicated is it for a guest to find the children’s ministry and check in their child? It may seem obvious to you but try to see it through the eyes of someone who has never been in the building.
  • Can hospitality team members and the “welcome center” be clearly identified? Consider having the team wear t-shirts or badges that make them easy to find when a guest has a question.
  • Is the team prepared to answer questions? Make a list of frequently asked questions and make sure the team is properly trained in answering them.

Your church may seem friendly to those inside while not being welcoming to new people coming in. Taking small steps can make a huge difference in making guests feel welcome.

2. The Student/Children’s Ministry Team

Choosing and deciding to regularly attend a church is often a family affair. Parents are likely to weigh the experience of their children with their own experience with the church. In other words, it’s just as important to invest in the health of your student and children’s ministry teams as the sermon content in the main service, the music, etc.

If your student and children’s ministry teams have solid processes, engaged staff and volunteers, and a welcoming environment, this team can be a tremendous avenue of growth for the church. Think of the student/children’s ministry as one “entry point” for non-churched people. If their children get in the car after service and tell the parents about the new friends they made and how much fun they had, the parents are much more likely to come back to the church because of their child’s great experience.

The same is true for the students/teens in your church who are able to volunteer, get involved in student ministry activities, and be an anchor of their family to regularly attend church.

3. The Leadership Team

Many of the decisions that affect church growth the most are made before Sunday even arrives. That’s why it’s so important for the entire leadership team of the church to be informed, involved, and on the same page.

Before the Hospitality, Student/Children’s Ministry, or any other teams are able to get healthy and contribute to the growth of the church, good leaders are being hands-on by investing in the development of systems, processes, staff, and volunteers.

The leadership team can start a conversation by asking questions that challenge the teams to be the best they can be and to cultivate a growth mindset. A few questions leaders can start with:

  • Which volunteer leaders are ready to step up to encourage the team and prevent the burnout of other volunteers and staff? Burnout is detrimental to church growth so it’s important for your entire team to share the load.
  • What type of planning or financial support do our teams need to improve their ministry and help the church grow? If new signs, t-shirts, a new church lobby layout, or other resources are needed, the leadership of the church should be aware and the teams should feel their support.
  • What about our church has caused the current students and children in our church to want to come back and what has kept others from coming back? It can be helpful to ask people in your church for feedback in this area and bring that feedback into the leadership’s strategy meetings.
  • How accessible is the leadership team? People who are new to the church could be turned off by feeling that they can’t get to know the leadership. For example, having a system for personally responding to emails, scheduling meet and greet events, and making space for leadership to greet people after Sunday services could help. Consider the options that are best for your church’s path of faithfulness and growth.

Our prayer is that your church experiences healthy growth, even if it’s slow and steady. In that, people are coming to know Jesus and committing to be a part of their local church body. We believe that these three teams are critical in helping you get there.

Take a Next Step

If you’re looking for more help leading your church to growth, come join the Church Fuel Community.

We are a group of pastors and leaders who value practical coaching and resources and encourage one another to grow healthy. Reaching new guests and helping them get involved in the life of the church is a regular topic among our members.

Every month, we release a brand-new master class, covering topics like volunteers, connecting people, preaching, finances, and more.

Members also get access to a resource library full of documents, spreadsheets and templates, including lots of church growth resources. There are members only office hours and round tables where you can get personal help when needed.

There’s no long-term contract and a money back guarantee, so you can check it out without pressure. Learn more here.

5 Reasons People Are Leaving Your Church

5 Reasons People Are Leaving Your Church

No one likes rejection.

It’s one of those deep-seeded wounds for many of us. A by-product of a fallen and sinful world. And it happens much more often than we would like it to, especially within our churches.

We’re talking about people, your “key” people even, calling it quits.

It may come out of nowhere, or you could’ve called it a ways away. Either way, you’re left thinking….

What happened? 

What did we do wrong?

And we’re here to tell you—sometimes, you probably could’ve handled something better. And sometimes, absolutely nothing.

There are all kinds of different reasons people could decide to leave a church. Here are just five of them.

1. You make a staff change.

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, author of the horrifying Frankenstein tale, said “Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.”

We’d beg to differ.

If we could track change that, it would say any change.

Let’s be real, we all have our favorite restaurants. We usually order the same thing when we go. And we like routine. It’s comfortable.

Change is uncomfortable for all of us. Even those of us that are more okay with it than others. Change causes growth, which is what the goal is! We want healthy, growing churches, but in order to do that, we can’t remain the same.

So we hire new staff. Or maybe get rid of a staff member that is not the best fit for their role.

This is going to cause tension.

People are relational beings. If someone comes in and begins to change how things are done, we tend to feel frustrated towards that person. But that’s what they were hired to do!

And inevitably, when so many have formed close relationships with a staff member that leaves, it can cause some hurt or confusion, either with the church or the departed staff member.

2. You’ve stopped or started a ministry area.

What you may, or may not, realize is that many people may have started coming to your church because of a particular ministry area.

They may have been desperately searching for a place their child or teen could fit in. Maybe they were seeking a small group they could connect with. Or maybe they wanted to serve in the music ministry.

What happens when the ministry or program that made them connect to your church changes?

You can’t stop making changes in your church. There are plenty of valid reasons to stop or start a ministry.

Most people who have a healthy view of the local church and understand your vision will be okay with these changes. But for some, this will be enough for them to leave.

3. The size of your church is too big or small.

Are you beginning to notice a theme here? People don’t like change.

More often than not, what we notice from working with so many churches is that when church growth happens (specifically in numbers), many church goers fight this. Or they leave.

“Sorry, the church is just getting too big for us.”

Style is one thing, but if a church is genuinely friendly and cares about connecting with people, numbers shouldn’t be an issue. Church members don’t all need to know each other, they just need to connect.

On the flipside, for some people, a church may be too small or it isn’t growing quickly enough. This is important to look at if growth isn’t happening for a long period of time, but growth isn’t always rapid and it often takes some time and the hard work of streamlining.

You can read more about the way church members tend to think about church growth here.

4. There are hurts or conflict that aren’t resolved.

You would think that a bunch of adults that are all followers of Christ would have little to no disputes (or could at least deal with them like adults).

If you’ve worked (or even volunteered) in a church for a week, you’d know this is far from the truth.

This isn’t to rag on anyone. This is why we need Jesus. We are selfish and prideful. No one likes to admit they are wrong.

It could be a serious moral failing or a small misunderstanding. It could even be something going on with a particular member/family that has nothing to do with the church. Hurts are hurts. And they will drive people to stop coming around and eventually fizzle out of your church.

5. You are practicing poor leadership skills.

Every church has problems.

What are you, as church leadership, doing about it?

Things won’t always be perfect, but people will notice when you are being good stewards of what God has given you. They’ll notice how you handle church conflict or disputes. People see how you live your life off stage.

If something goes wrong, the first person your church will look to is to the senior pastor.

It is natural. We look to who is in charge.

Leadership is often the #1 growth barrier many churches face. And there is absolutely something you can do about it!

Getting better as a leader doesn't require a new building, a new ministry, or a ton of money. It's about the focus of the leader.

Our Church Fuel Premium membership includes Team Training videos for staff and other leaders who are serious about getting better at leadership. Check it out for more information here.

What You Can Do

You can’t stop people from leaving your church just like you can’t stop your high school girlfriend from breaking up with you. I joke, but coming and going is a natural part of life. The ebb and flow.

So, rather than tighten your grip and forcing your people to stay, what can you be doing to make sure you are the best leader you can be and to prevent your church members from heading out the door?

1. Pray.

Prayer can seem antiquated.

Like it’s “just” prayer.

We can forget so often to take everything to Christ. The good, the bad, and the ugly. But bringing ourselves to the feet of Jesus is the only way we will continue to remain good leaders. Leaders that might hope to reflect Christ and his fruits.

Pray for the big stuff and the silly stuff.

Pray for your church health and growth. Pray for your church as a whole. Pray for your church member’s hearts and their generosity. Pray that you’ll be able to turn the lights on next week. Pray that God will continue to grow you as a leader.

Pray he’ll continue to grow your staff. Pray for boldness for your people. Pray that a middle schooler would start to enjoy your youth program this week. Pray for the single dad who looks burdened every time he walks into men’s group. Pray for your music ministry.

Just pray.

2. Come up with a communication plan.

We know that change can cause a lot of pain, insecurity, and downright discomfort for people. We also know that changes are necessary if we want to see church growth.

Making staff changes, or any other changes, can be largely minimized by creating a good communication plan. This should include a strong mission and vision statement as well as a detailed plan to make sure your people know what's going on.

You'll want to start with actually sitting down and creating a communications calendar. This is something we do here at Church Fuel. Every e-mail, post, and meeting is written down and planned and scheduled ahead of time. If you're a member of Church Fuel, you can grab a communication calendar from the Resource Library and send us an e-mail if you need some help putting it together for the first time (or if you want to improve it).

3. Be transparent.

Information is a form of appreciation.

Your church members, especially those who are more involved in the inner workings of your church, want to know what’s going on. They want to feel important enough to find something out from you instead of an e-mail.

When you are making staffing, program, or any other kind of changes, it isn’t possible to over communicate.

Be open about why your youth pastor is moving to another church. Answer questions that come up. In some cases, you may want to practice a certain level of discretion so as to not gossip or slander, but remember there are always people and emotions involved when changes happen. Be sensitive to that.

4. Be patient.

Remember, people pour their lives into ministry. What may start as a cheerful heart and easy-goingness can become serving for the wrong reasons. When stopping a ministry, or dealing with staffing changes, take care to redirect a volunteer's energy to something else.

Our priority is not to make volunteers happy, but there is value in making your volunteers feel important. In reminding them of your church's purpose.

Ask them how they're doing with the changes, share numbers and stories about how these changes are producing fruit, and give your volunteers a new job that fits their gifts and skills.

Just try not to lose your cool with people who aren't warmly receptive to new changes.

Take a Next Step

If you’re looking for more help leading your church to growth, come join the Church Fuel Community.

We are a group of pastors and leaders who value practical coaching and resources and encourage one another to grow healthy. Reaching new guests and helping them get involved in the life of the church is a regular topic among our members.

Every month, we release a brand-new master class, covering topics like volunteers, connecting people, preaching, finances, and more.

Members also get access to a resource library full of documents, spreadsheets and templates, including lots of church growth resources. There are members only office hours and round tables where you can get personal help when needed.

There’s no long-term contract and a money back guarantee, so you can check it out without pressure. Learn more here.