What does it take to grow a church?

The Rev. Tim Schenck, rector of St. John the Evangelist Church in Hingham, Mass., offers some insight about what it takes to grow a church, and he's a pretty credible source on this. In his three and a half years at St. John's, average Sunday attendance has increased 35 percent, pledging is up 50 percent, and the church has doubled the size of its staff. He blogs:

For me, growth comes down to a passion for sharing the Gospel of Christ. We’re called to share this Good News with which we’ve been entrusted not horde it. And when we share the Gospel — boldly, radically, creatively — the church can’t help but grow!

So if sharing the Gospel is the key to church growth, the next logical question is what does it mean to share the Gospel?

-- It means looking outward, rather than exclusively inward.

-- It means reaching out to others — the less fortunate and those in need.

-- It means communicating in creative ways beyond the four walls of the church building.

-- It means flinging open the doors to welcome people and being intentional about incorporating them into the life of the parish.

-- It means thinking entrepreneurially about liturgical alternatives to Sunday morning worship that may look and feel and sound different but still reflect the core values of the community.

-- It means preaching engaging sermons that connect and relate rather than judge and deny.

-- It means music that uplifts and inspires.

-- It means listening for the still, small voice within rather than cowing to the anxiety-ridden, strident voice without.

-- It means leaving room for questions and mystery rather than providing simplistic answers.

-- It means joyfully inviting people to partake in the peace of Christ that passes all understanding.

Read his full post here. I'd love to hear from others in growing parishes about what they think contributes to the health of a congregation.

Comments (2)

I would add to Tim's list being willing to step out in faith and take risks.

In my previous parish we went out on a limb with a regional youth ministry, including budgeting a small deficit to pay for it. While the effort was not a success (problems of geography, differences among the participating parishes, and insufficiently clear objectives), it did create energy and enthusiasm for mission, which we directed to more successful endeavors and growth in other areas, and we finished the year in the black.

I would add that it takes dedicated prayer by leaders and church members.

Prayer for those who don't know Christ.
Prayer for the community.
Prayer for eyes to see spiritual thirst in our friendships.


Chris Walker

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