Every pastor I know wants to make an impact. They want their churches to grow and to make a difference in their communities. Many pastors, however, attempt to make an impact the wrong way.
Too many pastors go for the quick kill. They are looking for the one big event that will reach their community and bring hundreds, if not thousands, of people to their church. They start a new ministry hoping that it will immediately touch a felt need around them and reach a throng of new people. They are looking for a silver bullet, one that kills quickly all in one shot.
The reality is, that is not how most growing churches actually grow. Most churches grow slowly over years. Most healthy churches grow one day, and one small decision, at a time. They build a reputation based not on doing one event well, but on doing many things well over the course of years. Gary McIntosh of the Church Growth Network said it this way, “Word of mouth is not based on one thing you do or don’t do. It’s the result of tens or hundreds of little things you do consistently well. Occasionally, short term rumors may focus on one particular aspect of your ministry. The long-term rumors, or word-of-mouth conversation, changes slowly since it depends on the history of ministry found in your church over many years.”
Most churches grow when they do things consistently well over many years. One great event is not likely to singlehandedly grow a church, however, doing a great Easter production every year over the course of decades might. Preaching one great sermon that knocks it out of the park probably won’t do much to help your church grow, but preaching consistently solid sermons every week will. Going the extra mile to care for one family in need is important, but caring and ministering to families over the course of years is what truly builds a church’s reputation. It’s not the one time event that grows a church, it is the faithful ministry over the course of a long time.
The question becomes then, not what big event are we planning next, but what reputation are we building with each and every small decision we make. Are we caring for people by visiting them in the hospital? Are we providing quality ministries, not just one time, but each and every week? Are we administrating the day-to-day business of the church well? Are we doing small and consistent things in our community to build a good reputation? Are we loving people and sharing the love of Christ in every interaction we have?
There is no quick route to church growth. Churches grow slowly, by building a reputation over time and through doing the small things well. So, what type of reputation is your church building?