When Andy Grove was the CEO of Intel, he asked this question to his board:
“If we got kicked out and the board brought in a new CEO, what would he do? Why shouldn't we walk out the door, come back in, and do it ourselves?”
That’s a powerful question, isn’t it? Every pastor should ask it on a regular basis.
Whether I’m consulting with a church for a day or for six months, there are things I can see more clearly as an outsider. That’s why an outside voice is so important. But if I was the ultimate fresh voice in your church – the brand new leader – there are five systems I would work on first.
These are the things I would look at right away, regardless of how many people were attending.
#1 – Guest Follow Up
If you want guests, prepare to have guests. That’s step number one and it’s fairly simple. I believe a lot of churches don’t experience the blessing of first-time guests because they are not prepared for first-time guests.
Even if no new people have visited the church in six months, as the brand new leader, I would start getting ready for guests. I would decide in advance what we’re going to do when those guests come. Get ready for the harvest.
You get to design an experience for first-time guests. What do you want them to hear during their visit? Who do you want them to meet? What do you want them to get in their mailbox after their visit? What do you want them to get in their inbox after their visit?
Whether you have 1 guest a week or 100, create a flowchart of what you want people to experience. Maybe when you get ready, God will send new people your way.
If you're a Church Fuel member, you'll find a coaching video and a first-time guest flowchart in the member's area. This is a great place to start.
#2 – Service Planning
No matter the style of your church, a Sunday gathering is likely an important part of your strategy. But the Sunday service probably doesn’t get enough focus.
From the music to the environment to the preaching, Sunday is an opportunity to impact and inspire people to follow Jesus. So one of the first five systems I would address is the way these services get planned.
I’m not talking about making changes to the service…I’m talking about the process of planning them. Church services happen every week – this means it’s worth considerable time and energy planning them.
It's easy to focus our attention on the big events and the special programs, but your church service is probably the single most important opportunity you have to connect with new people.
#3 – Volunteer Recruitment
If you want your church to make a bigger impact in the community, you're going to need to involve more people in the ministry. That’s why this is one of the first systems I would address. I’m not talking about standing up and begging for volunteers or sending out email newsletters or guilting people into showing up.
I’m talking about creating an intentional system for bringing new volunteers into the mix. This might involve changing the focus of the existing volunteers from doing to recruiting. This is a HUGE shift, but it can make a huge difference. Or this might be carving out an entire month to preach on volunteering and creating a clear communication process that goes across every single ministry. Volunteer recruitment needs more than a Sunday…it needs a system.
Our three step volunteer system (recruit, train and lead) will give you the practical tools you need to make this happen.
#4 – Team Meetings
If I was the brand new leader in an existing church, one of the first things I would do would be team development. But before going to conferences or reading books, I’d create a meeting strategy that involved the right people in the right meetings for the right purpose.
A lot of churches have staff meetings that lead to nothing important. They become wastes of time. Or maybe they have team retreats that result in a lot of talk but little action.
There’s a better way.
You can create a meeting system that takes annual priorities and drills them down to quarterly objectives that have a monthly focus along with a weekly measurement. All this means that your meetings matter. You end up talking about the truly important things rather than the knucklehead stuff that pops up from week to week.
#5 – Annual Planning
The fifth system I would work on right away is a planning system. Churches are notorious for busying up the calendar with ministries, programs, and events. Too many times, these step on everyone’s toes. Things don’t get communicated according to plan…they get mentioned according to pain. Important stuff like giving and groups and leadership get pushed off the agenda because the squeaky wheel is loud.
These are the five systems I would work on in your church if you handed me the keys.
Feel like your church should be growing, but it's not? From someone who used to be a pastor and church planter, I know it can be frustrating.
Ultimately, church growth is up to God. But are we doing everything we can to ensure our church is healthy? How do we overcome the barriers we feel are in front of us?
We know you care deeply about leading a healthy growing church because it means leading more people to Jesus. That's why we created a free guide to breaking barriers that will bring clarity and help begin to alleviate your frustrations.
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