Monday, October 8, 2007

Church growth

Gospel-Driven Church comments on a Christianity Today article about "marketing the church," [and GetReligion reports an unfortunate example] and argues that "if you want to attract people to a community, the hard work of investing in community and spiritual growth is necessary."
..."What you win them with is what you win them to." So if you win somebody to your event, they're going to be expecting the event each time, all the time. And eventually, the event gets old. Churches strive to go bigger, better, flashier, fancier. It's burnout waiting. And in 3-4 years, the convert won to the event moves on to the next event church because it's different.

We are finding this out with student ministry, where the ministries geared toward entertaining, wowing, preoccupying kids then pours those kids out into the "regular" church community where they are then expected to go without games and skits and the bombardment of cultural detritus.

The result? 70% of high school graduates disappear from church.

They weren't won to Christian community; they were won to the show. And when there's no show, they're no-shows.

But the tide may be turning. I wonder if event churches will catch on.

When you look at the research, when you look at the reasons college students and young adults, for examples, return to church, they are not saying "great music" or "exciting media." In fact, programming issues aren't even mentioned. The reasons many of them return - and the reason the ones who stay stay - are generally two-fold:

  • spiritual growth
  • relationships
To sum that up: discipleship. They felt connected to community and they were growing in that community.

If you want to attract people to a gathering, music and media works. The show works. Event church works if you want to fill seats and get "big."

But if you want to attract people to a community, the hard work of investing in community and spiritual growth is necessary. To repeat: It is hard work. But it is the work Scripture calls us to. ....
The Gospel-Driven Church: What You Win Them With is What You Win Them To
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