The reason for asking this question often falls into one of two categories. Firstly, it may be that your church is losing members of its congregation and as a result is in decline. Secondly, it may be that you want to build up your church and attract new members so that you can share the message of God with more people.
No matter which reason your church falls within, there are some common reasons for a church not growing that you should be aware of. Only once you are aware of the reason why your church isn’t growing, can you begin to think of overcoming each challenge.
Reasons that your church isn’t growing
We’ve put together some of the top reasons we’ve found for churches not growing at all, or as much as required. These aren’t the only reasons out there but they are certainly common themes that run across churches across the United States.
Being stuck in the past
Tradition is a wonderful thing. Many of us who are part of a church or work within a church are naturally drawn to the story and history of religion. This should never be forgotten or left to fall away but it should equally never be a reason to hold your church back.
When a church leader is stuck in the past, it can be a significant reason for the church not to grow. This is because it causes an inability to engage with the modern generation, explore new technology and embrace modern social ideals. When it comes to technology, at Church Helper we have simple, intuitive software to help churches engage with technology and use it for their benefit.
A lack of focus on the people that matter
Far too many churches have their focus firmly on the needs and desires of internal people, whether that is leaders, members of staff or other stakeholders. When a church spends such a significant amount of time focusing on themselves, they end up causing new and existing members of the congregation to feel unwelcome.
Everyone matters to your church, whether that is the dedicated leaders and support staff, or the members of the congregation that attend every sermon and holiday event. Lose sight of this and you will very quickly find your church is not growing and may even be shrinking.
Not wanting to embrace new cultures and ideas
Sadly, we have experienced many churches and church leaders who believe that the culture and ideas of non-Christians are the enemies of Christianity. They are against the ideas of Christianity and as a result, are incompatible. How then, can you expect to draw new people to your church and the Christian faith, if you lack the understanding and love to engage with others.
If you can treat all neighbours as a friend, then you are likely to engage with more of those neighbours. If you wish to create more social events for your church and those living nearby, why not use our Church Helper software to easily manage your events.
Conflicts within the church
Conflict in a church is not uncommon, whether that is between church leadership, between leaders and members of the congregation or between different sections of the congregation. This is part of human nature and we can never entirely remove this issue, but it is important to realise the impact it can have and how it can cause a church not to grow.
If a church is able to understand that conflict does happen, then a church should be able to take a leading role in helping manage and resolve conflict before it becomes a serious, divisive issue.
Not part of the community
Just because your church is situated within the community physically, doesn’t mean it has become part of the community or stays part of it. A major reason for a church to not grow is that it fails to be part of the fabric of the local community, for any number of reasons and if you can tackle this then you will see a dramatic difference.
Are you engaging with the community throughout the year? Do you simply just run a sermon on certain days and that is it? There is so much opportunity to work with people, support those that need it and show just how great Christianity and the church is.
Not enough staff
Some of the smaller churches out there will be a one-man band, a single leader who has to wear many hats and organise everything from fundraising to administration as well as content creation. This is all before we get to the most important task of all – working with the congregation and spreading the word of God and the bible.
When churches operate in this way, it can be incredibly difficult to grow because there is simply not enough time in the day. Equally, you cannot allocate sufficient time to truly engage with the congregation, local community and the wider world.
This is one of the reasons we developed our Church Helper suite of programmes, to take away the pressure and distraction of finance, administration and content creation.
One of the most common reasons for a church to not grow and one of the hardest to tackle. When a church is under financial pressure, particularly a small church it is very easy to simply think growing and expanding is not a realistic goal. Time should be spent staying afloat and supporting those members of the congregation who are still there right? We believe there is an alternative.
One of the key features of our Church Helper software is that it helps streamline finances and help generate new income. If you can explore fundraising opportunities in both the local and wider communities, then you can not only stand still but take steps forward towards growing your church.
Ways to help church growth
There are some fantastic ways to help your church to grow and many of them require little change except for focusing on what really matters. Some of the solutions for growth are listed below.
Show value in growth
You may find resistance to change, resistance to increasing the current size of your congregation from both staff and members. When it comes to members of staff, get them involved in the decisions and the processes to help them understand the importance and value of growing your church.
When it comes to members of your congregation and other external stakeholders such as donors, then a very similar pattern is required. Engage everyone by holding meetings, exploring the topic at sermons and hold events about your church and the benefits of growth. When we become more aware of the reasons why a decision is made, we will naturally become more supportive of the decision and this leads to greater results.
Use technology to your advantage
We live in a time of constant technological change, advancement and opportunity but taking advantage of this is another matter. Your church is not growing, or perhaps not growing fast enough and let’s explore a couple of technological opportunities for you to use in your church.
Streaming content will enable you to share sermons, events and messages of faith to your congregation even as they move away, travel for work or simply find their lives become busier. Likewise, using software like Church Helper to manage the financial and administrative aspects of your church will let you focus on engaging with the community and building up your church following.
One of the most important parts of your job as a church leader is preparing and delivering sermons to the congregation, whether in person or remotely using streaming software. As a result, this is the central way that you will be engaging with the members of your church and hoping to keep them engaged.
With society changing and the demographic of your congregation changing, it makes sense to think about modernising your sermons. Sharing the word of God and bringing those in the community to your faith requires a more modern approach, using examples from modern-day or ideals that the younger generation can relate to more easily. This is also important when it comes to Sunday school sessions and other events.
Consider your demographic
Consideration and care are two pillars of the Church, supporting your church members and those who need help the most. How then can you do this if you don’t truly consider who your demographic is? When your church is not growing, it is likely to partly be because you don’t understand the people in and around your church.
If your church is located in an area with an ageing population, then you may wish to focus on their requirements. Likewise, if the area is changing and becoming younger then you will want to tailor your sermons and events to those. Take the time to head out into the community, as well as talking with your congregation and see who they are, what they need and what matters most to them.
Host events for younger people
There is no getting away from the fact that you cannot simply rely on your existing congregation and the older members to maintain or grow your church. New blood must be attracted to your Church as a way to grow and also make a difference to the community. By connecting the different age groups and parts of society, you can create bonds that translate beyond location to faith and commitment.
Take the time to host events for younger people, whether youth clubs or summer fundraising events. These can be organised and monitored through our helpful Church Helper software to ensure you make the most of money spent and target as many young people as possible in your local area.
Get feedback from your community
Have you ever asked your community why they became part of your church? Or why they have chosen a different church? If not, then it is highly unlikely you will understand what needs to be done to grow your church and stop it from losing members.
A fantastic way to get feedback about what you need to change to grow your church is to hold fun events within the community. Take the time to not only show them what you have to offer but ask them to talk about what is important to them or what they feel you’re missing. If you can mix this in with sharing the word of God and your faith with them that is even better, but above all else, this exercise is about listening to those around you!
Run fundraising events
It is difficult to create change, particularly when it involves growing your church unless you have the funds to drive this change forward. An unfortunate part of running a church is that much of your time must be spent raising funds instead of spreading the word of God, but you can become more efficient at it.
Take advantage of software like Church Helper to make running these events efficient and effective. From there, think about what events would connect with your community the best so that you get the greatest return on investment. There are so many opportunities to raise funds, that once you become efficient at it then you can start to engage with the community and spend money on the areas that truly make a difference to the growth of your church.
We have approached the question of what to do when your church is not growing by splitting it down into two parts: the reasons why it isn’t growing and ways that you can enact change to help your church grow. It is our belief that you cannot consider the second part unless you fully understand the key issues affecting your individual church.
Take the time to analyse what it is about your church that limits its growth, then start to plan the events, changes to technology and approach to your community that will truly make a difference. It can be those little changes to your approach such as taking the time to listen to your congregation that can have a real effect on the future of your church.