Our Homecoming honors the 64th anniversary of the Pearland Church of Christ. To all of you who are able to be with us, our sincerest welcome. More than that, we want you to know we are grateful to God for the years God let you be a part of and blessing to the work here at Pearland.
While this weekend is a longed-for opportunity for old friends to catch up and enjoy the fellowship of those who’ve meant so much to each other, it’s also an opportunity to look ahead with a desire and a plan to be the light in our city for years to come. There is always the temptation to throw away or ignore the methods of bygone years and look for new ways, but often the successful strategies of the past are the key to future growth. With that thought in mind, I would like to to share seven steps for church growth from an article by Nick Batzig taken from The Christward Collective, February 26, 2015.
Space limitations require that this be a two-part series, and you should know that I have borrowed the seven statements but then adapted them in some ways that I believe are helpful to us.
1. Regularly pray for a set number of new families and individuals. That may seem to some to be limiting. Perhaps, but it is also purposeful and directed. Praying for a dozen new families in a given year will engage the entire congregation in the mental preparation and planning for that kind of growth. It can then be a focus of those who teach the Bible classes. It can be a target for the eldership to aim for. It can be a part of the message from the pulpit and a regular part of each weekly bulletin. Each member prays for this at home and when each family prays together. With the expectation that the fervent prayer of the righteous can accomplish much (James 5:16-17), the focused prayer for growth then becomes the basis for planning and efforts. It demonstrates reliance upon the Lord for growth (1 Cor. 3:6) and a personal commitment to Great Commission commandments (Mt. 28:18-20). This should become a constant strategy to be repeated with each success.
2. Intentionally sit by someone that you don’t know. This is probably the least utilized and yet most strategic step that can be taken to become a welcoming church. We have favorite places to sit, and we never chose those places with the intention of being unwelcoming. But the fact remains that we did choose those locations! This strategy involves choosing to look for visitors and then sitting near them to make sure we have opportunity to get to know them. When we sit next to visitors, we can explain what is happening, demonstrate worship by example, and find ways to help them. It isn’t a comfortable strategy because it takes us out of our comfort zones, but it is a logical extension of the prayer of faith that we are praying.
3. Go out of your way to talk with someone you have not yet met. Visitors are not going to be impressed by the song service or the sermon, but they will be impressed by what happened or didn’t happen to them when they made themselves vulnerable in coming to worship with us. Purposefully speaking to them leaves a deep and favorable impression that can only be bested by the impression, “No one spoke to me at all.” I visited a small congregation in central Arkansas last summer where I didn’t know a soul. Before I left, I had been greeted by dozens of folks, thanked for my attendance, and invited to other services and to places to eat. One older gentleman said, as he put out his hand to shake mine, “I don’t believe I’ve ever scratched your paw before.” That little congregation is on my list of places to worship at again!
4. When you meet a visitor, introduce them to others in the congregation who may have common interests. This takes some thoughtful effort, but it is so important. We have school teachers, realtors, and doctors. We have families of the same age, singles of the same age, and people with the same interests. It is surprising just how many of our church family have once lived where they are moving from, went to the same college or university that they did, know something about what brings them to our area, etc. We can actively choose to make them aware of commonality, or we can passively choose to make them feel that they could never fit in here.
Part two – next week.
Keep studying and keep serving! DC Brown ©2016