A Successful Church “Part One”
Can you imagine trying to fly a plane and getting mixed signals from the control tower? One Controller tells you to approach runway 2 and another tells you to approach runway 6? Both controllers are adamant that there directions are the right directions. There is no way you can follow both Controllers but the good news is each of these Controllers are professionals and they probably will be able to help you land the plane safely.
Trying to be successful in the church as a leader can be as tricky as trying to land a jet plane at Detroit Metro with two controllers giving you opposing directions. Like most church leaders I want to lead with grace and power but I am somewhat confused by what success looks like in a church. So I have asked many times, “What is the definition of success in a local church? What do you measure?” There seems to be several methods and formulas to becoming a successful church. I think I have tried most of them unsuccessfully. After meeting with my mentors, attending workshops and reading many books on church growth and revitalization I have concluded that there are obviously different runways for a successful landing. The first thing we need to do is connect with the control tower (That would be God). Trying to grow the church using plans X, Y and Z is usually a mistake. We need to realize we may be attempting to fly the plane but we are not in control. God is and if I we are obedient to Him success is inevitable.Lives will be changed, people will become involved in ministry, the Kingdom will be advanced and we will be a tool in the hands of the Master.
Perhaps “Runway One” defines success by the number of people attending a worship service. Attendance, that’s a good indicator, right? Attendance is a measurable indicator it requires a few accurate statistics. It also requires implementation of a good follow up system of all the guests and regular attendees, These statistics help define who is attending, what target you are reaching. and what their interests are. Another approach would be to follow through with a personal invitation to follow Jesus. A pastor in Northwest Ohio has grown his church tremendously by following through in the homes and asking people to make a commitment to Jesus. Yes, it sounds old school but in a time of high tech there seems to be a hunger for more touch or personal contact and care. There is a big difference between follow up and follow through. Follow up seems quicker than follow through but less effective in developing committed “Christ Followers.” Follow through seems to depend on God; His power; His mercy; His leading; His grace; etc. Follow up seems to be primarily fueled by strategy, effort, checks and balances, etc, and seeks to answer questions like, How many first time visitors? How many second time visitors? How many were first time givers? Did the follow-up program get properly implemented? How about the regular attendees? Who was missing? How long have they been missing? Has their giving patterns fluctuated from their norm? Is there anyone sick? Facing surgery? Or home bound? These are all great questions and there is great benefit in gathering statistics. Bottom line though is what lands the plane. What works for you and your church?
I wonder what would happen if our church approach was to individually touch 5000 people this month and bless them, Christ being our helper? Simply inviting them to follow Jesus is a great way to begin a hope filled journey. As we follow through we are going and will encounter people which seems to emulate Christ’s ministry. As we meet people we can pray for them, lay hands on them, walk with them, teach them, baptize them, be gracious to them, encourage them, humbly serve them, etc. Will that bring success? I challenge you to challenge your church to give this a try. That is why I am writing this month’s blog. Now Follow through…..and have a Journey of Hope!