In a recent study of church growth, the following factors and strategies were noticed as being utilized in growing churches while churches that were declining were not using these principles.
1. Reach out to Newcomers. Focusing on the needs and concerns of newcomers, making inquiry convenient and non-threatening, and allowing people to move at their own pace, characterized the growing churches.
2. Build Member Commitment. While reaching newcomers is most important, the growing churches expected much of members, and active involvement of everyone was sought.
3. Train and Involve Laity. There was always a bold, compelling vision for the congregation’s future as well as ways of equipping and deploying laity drawn to the vision for ministry.
4. Make Bold Plans. Churches with goals and dreams far beyond current ministries and resources were more likely to grow than other churches, all other things being equal.
5. Pace Change. Conflict over the implementation of these bold and innovative plans was one significant cause of membership decline. When change moves members so far out of their “comfort zone,” resistance and conflicts set in and diminish the congregation’s capacity to reach out to new people.
6. View Laity Positively. A “we- they” relationship between leaders and members leads to a defensive posture by all and works against outreach. A more positive view of human nature assumes that people want to be part of God’s vision for the church and have much to contribute to understanding and implementing the vision.