The very latest book from Nelson Searcy is called Ignite: How to Spark Immediate Growth in your Church. In classic Searcy fashion this book is heavy on practical issues and gives a pragmatic way to increase the impact of your church by increasing the crowd gathering on Sunday mornings. Obviously a large crowd on Sunday morning is not the complete mission of the church, which Searcy acknowledges.
I read this book because I am in a tele-coaching network with Searcy. Otherwise I probably would not have read it. The whole, “Bring your friends to church so that the professional witnesser (the pastor) can tell them about Jesus” style seems so wrong to me. However, this book helped me to frame my thinking to be more along the lines of, “If this church is a great community for you, why not invite people you know you don’t have any sense of community – then, hopefully, they will see that Christ is the key to the community we experience and they will seek Him.” So the focus comes off the guy with the microphone and goes on to the way that the whole community lives in a Jesus way together. That’s the kind of thing I can get behind.
Here’s my take-aways from the book, (we’re supposed to come up with 10 for the coaching network):
- Effective follow-up: this is key. Too many church leaders set up some fantastic program and give no consideration to the continued work of effective follow-up. The work does not end with the event – events are beginnings for people.
- Most churches face growth barriers around the 65, 125, 250, 500, 1000 and 2500 size.
- Searcy suggests “big days” as effective ways to break through these barriers.
- 60-80% of first time guests at a church are there because a friend invited them.
- Searcy claims that only about 5% of Christians have the gift of evangelism. (He then says that he requires all his staff to be doing evangelism regularly – which lets us know the gift mix that he looks for in staff.) I wonder if this is truly a “gifting” issue or if it is the effect of multiple generations being taught to “bring their friends to church” instead of training the people to know what they actually believe in a comprehensible way.
- The book also suggests intentionally developing friendships with the intent of inviting people to church. This is weird to me. So, the goal of the friendship is to get them to do a specific behavior we’ve preconceived? I think this line of thinking is so strange. I think it comes from Christians gradually isolating themselves into “Christian only” lives – where they only hang with believers, read Christian books, listen to Christian radio, watch Christian TV and movies, attending Christian events, celebrating Christian pseudo-holidays (like “Harvest Festivals”). This is why it is such an advantage to like in the wildly unChristian Pacific Northwest. It really takes effort to ghetto-ize your faith here because there is so little Christian consumer influence and such a grand openness to spirituality. (and yes, that was a little rant-y)
- Relevant church means knowing your culture. If your church sings songs that were written in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s you are relevant to the culture that was under 25 in those times. So don’t be surprised if your “contemporary” style of worship attracts people who are 35, 45 and 55. If you want to impact younger generations understand the culture of now. This actually takes work.
- Pray and fast for unbelievers. And for the unchurched. Most people around here believe in God, they probably even pray. But they have no significant relationship with Jesus. They may even like Jesus as a guy, but they need the conviction of the Holy Spirit to show them the extent of god’s love for them.
- 1 in 4 people will visit your church the first time you ask them. 3 of 4 will visit if you ask a couple times. People want peace and salvation and hope. They are just scared of Christians. Individual Christians are the key to gospel impact – way way way more than super duper pastors.
- If your church is making a significant impact for the gospel – reaching and saving prisoners of the epic war – then the devil will likely notice and try to rain on your parade. Don’t quit – don’t quit – don’t quit. It’s worth it. Obey God and repent – the rest is details.
pages read= 200 ~ year to date= 6194 ~ 2009 goal=9,000 ~ (69%)