“What is our plan to grow our church?” was asked Wednesday evening at our church’s annual meeting. We were discussing adopting an annual budget that was less than last year’s budget but more than last year’s giving. The new budget is based on the assumption that we will have more people to give and that people will give more.
When the question, “What is our plan to grow our church?” was asked, I did not respond. One reason is that it was not addressed to me directly. The second reason is I wanted to see how the congregation would respond.
Now that the meeting is over and the dust has settled, let me remind us of what we’ve been talking about for the past year. Our plan for growth is found in two documents, our 2020 Vision and our Purpose Statement, and a sermon series, “What makes a great church?” Granted, our plans are not spelled in action steps and milestones. But these two statements explain what we will focus on and emphasize in order to produce growth.
Our 2020 Vision says we want to become a church of 500-1000 people. Since we currently average 245, that requires a step of faith and dependence on God. It is even more challenging considering we live in the region that is #11 on the least of least churched cities in America. To see our attendance double or quadruple, we will need to pray and ask God to work.
The 2020 vision explains where our growth will come from:
- Evangelism – With so many lost people surrounding us, we don’t want or need to take people from other churches. We will offer events where people can bring their friends to hear the gospel, but more importantly, each one of us needs to share our story with those we live and work with.
- Children’s Ministry and Youth Ministry – By placing an emphasis on children and youth, we want to attract and minister to young families. We are beginning to gain some traction in these two areas.
- Small groups – By getting people into small groups, we can help people connect with one another on a deeper level and build a sense of community. Small groups also serve as a catalyst for greater spiritual growth.
- Emphasis on missions – One of our goals is to adopt an unreached people group. This will remind us of the need for global outreach and help us maintain an outward focus. By encouraging adults to go on a short-term ministry trip, we encourage people to get out of the pew and into the world. Our hope is that we can begin to work more closely and partner with our missionaries in their endeavors.
- Being a blessing to our community – We will offer events and services that allow us to be a good neighbor and contribute to the health of our community. We will live as salt and light and cause people to be curious as to why we are different.
Our purpose statement also explains where our growth will come from:
At First Central Baptist Church, we are Building a Community to Change the World. We seek to Glorify God by Connecting people to Christ, the church, and one another; so that we can Grow in our faith, character, and skills; in order to Serve the cause of Christ with our time, talents, and treasures; and to Share the message of the gospel where we live, work, and go to school; both locally, and as far around the world as we can reach.
- Connect – We will use evangelism to connect people to Christ; small groups and other ministries to connect people to the church and one another.
- Grow – Small groups, Sunday School classes, worship services, leadership training, Celebrate Recovery, and numerous other ministries help people grow in knowledge, character, and skills.
- Serve – We want servants, not attendees; participants rather than spectators. We will challenge people to use everything they have—time, talents, treasures, resources, etc., to help build Christ’s kingdom.
- Share – God has entrusted us with the message of hope and reconciliation. We will encourage, challenge, and equip folks to share their story.
A sermon series I preached last fall also explains our plan for growth—“A great commitment to the great commandment and the great commission makes a great church.”
- A great commitment – As disciples, Christ calls us to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow him.
- To the great commandment – We are to love God with every aspect of our being and love our neighbor.
- To the great commission – We are to share the message of the gospel and make disciples here and around the world.
- Makes a great church – We work with Christ as he builds his church.
Rather than compete and conflict, our 2020 Vision, Purpose Statement, and “Great Church” series are designed to complement one another. They serve to help us have a balanced ministry—Upwards to exalt the king; Inwards to equip his servants; and Outward to expand his kingdom.
I was reminded once again that vision and direction needs to be cast, recast, and continually communicated.