Churches across America face the challenge of declining attendance and changes in the culture. Sundays aren’t always reserved for attending church now. And those that are attending are attending differently than they did ten or even five years ago.
But we promise it’s not all doom and gloom and decline. Some of the busiest churches are doing more than just hanging on. They’re thriving, growing, and seeing incredible changes. Where some churches are struggling to overcome the challenge of church attendance decline, others are seeing an increase in attendance and, more importantly, an increase in engagement and discipleship. We hope that encourages and inspires you!
These churches have found strategies to increase engagement and discipleship that can be a model for others looking to grow their ministry. Whether you’re just starting out or trying to revive an existing church, these six strategies from successful churches will help you create an environment where people feel welcomed and inspired to stay connected.
But how do they do it? What’s making their ministry thrive?
We’ll cover what a thriving church looks like, with real-life examples and the foundational strategies, tools, and techniques that work together to move a ministry from surviving to thriving.
What Makes a Thriving Church?
When talking about a thriving church, it’s important to note every church will look different. Each church has their own culture, different talents in their thriving congregation, and is led by pastors and ministry leaders with unique passions and callings from God.
But thriving churches have one core thing in common: bearing good fruit. As Jesus Christ said in Matthew 7:16-17, “You will recognize them by their fruits. Every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit.”
The fruits of a thriving and healthy church include:
- Attracting new visitors and encouraging people to get plugged in
- Experiencing growth in their discipleship year over year
- Staff feeling energized and excited instead of burning out
What are some real examples of a thriving church?
Pastor Steven Furtick is one of the preachers you instantly recognize when you hear his voice. His compelling illustrations and passion-filled preaching have helped Elevation grow to over 21 locations with an average of 90,000 weekly attendees. And Life.Church’s Craig Groeschel has been leading and innovating for over 10 years with their latest experiment in the metaverse.
But you don’t have to be a mega-church to be thriving. There are a ton of churches of all sizes, cultures, denominations, and more who are thriving:
- First Baptist Church in Wilmington, NC
- Churchome in Seattle, WA
- VOUS in Miami, FL
- Adventure Church in Yuba City, CA
- Relentless Church in Greenville, SC
- Irving Bible Church in Irving, TX
These churches are all hosting events, serving their communities, inviting people to start a relationship with Jesus, and so much more. So go ahead and check out their online presence (or swing by for a visit if you’re local) to get some inspiration, wisdom, and direction for your own church’s movement.
6 Strategies to Help You Become a Thriving Church
Whether you’re a church leader ready to implement some new strategies, or just looking for inspiration, there’s a lot to learn from thriving churches. Here are our top 6 strategies to move your church from surviving to thriving.
1. Preach with passion
Every Sunday, people show up ready to hear a message that adds value to their lives, helps them understand the Bible better, and moves towards living more like Jesus.
It might be time to learn new techniques for preaching with passion. Think back to what you learned in your preaching class in seminary, listen to other preachers around you, or watch TEDTalks to get inspired. Proper worship planning can also help. An engaged audience and powerful preaching are crucial to a thriving church.
2. Foster connection
Although church attendance is a hot topic, does it matter that you get people in the church if you don’t keep them coming back? A thriving church fosters connection with first-time guests. Thriving churches do more than just invite people back each week; they offer a sense of community. Help guests plug in and stay connected through your church app with a clear discipleship path that leads to baptism and membership.
3. Become outward-focused
It should be no surprise that churches that are growing are those that have an external focus. When your ministry is focused on serving and meeting the needs of your neighbors, those same neighbors will have a positive feeling about attending and joining your church. There are many ways to help your community, from food pantries to cleaning up trash to volunteering at schools. Look around at your community and their needs, and then take action!
4. Invest in your team’s wellbeing
For your local church to thrive, your team needs to be thriving. Stress, anxiety, and burnout don’t have to (and shouldn’t) be part of your job. Take time to rest and connect with your church leadership through weekly check-ins, monthly prayer meetings, and quarterly staff retreats – and, in all of this, ensure that you are prioritizing the spiritual growth of your team.
5. Put systems in place
A mountain of papers on your desk or an inbox overflowing with unread emails sounds pretty stressful, right? Having an organized space is key to creating a thriving church. That all boils down to having the right systems in place. With church management software, churches can seamlessly organize all their church administration. No more hunting for an email or updating an old spreadsheet. With one accessible platform, data is easy to access, and tasks can be automated, so you can get back to creating a thriving, ministry-focused culture at your church.
6. Commit to simplicity
A simplified ministry will help your church thrive in a complicated and busy world. Instead of being busy doing everything, focus on what makes the most impact in ministry. Focus on things that resonate with your community and ministry leaders, ultimately supporting your goals as a church. That could be an event, a day of serving, or a new small group.
It’s Time To Start Thriving with Pushpay
We believe every church can thrive in their God-given calling. These are strategies churches can embrace to facilitate growth and create a healthy, thriving congregation. And we’re here to help every step of the way. All of Pushpay’s technology is built on the belief that churches deserve great software specifically designed to advance their ministries and ensure the success of their mission. To find out how we can help your church thrive, schedule a call with one of our experts today.
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