10 Things That Surprised Me About These Churches and Implications For Application: Part #1
Over the next several months I will be sharing things that make these churches different and some of the fastest growing churches in the convention—things that surprised me about these churches and some thoughts on how to apply these insights into our churches. I look forward to your comments and engagement.
I like learning from those who have been there because I value experience and expertise no matter how different it is from mine. The person who mentored me had been mentored prior to him inventing his life in me. I read books by those who have been successful and I love hearing personal stories of success. When my kids came along, I sought insight from those who had survived their parenting years. When it comes to church we should be willing to learn from those who are “getting it done.”
Every year for the past fifteen years I have conducted a research project that studies the fastest growing churches in the Georgia Baptist Convention. The focus of that study is Sunday School and Small Groups but it also includes baptisms, church membership and worship attendance. When I talk to pastors and church leaders about the common practices of these growing churches I hear many excuses of why their churches are not growing. The excuse that gets under my skin is, “that will not work in my church.” The truth is that not much work of any kind is being done in many of the churches that make excuses.
My challenge is simple; learn from those who are reaching people. Find out what they are doing to help people grow in their faith and then customize it to your location. Discover what they are doing to produce leaders and start new groups, then make adjustments and put it to work in your church.
I hope that the following observations and ideas will benefit you, your leaders and your church. My prayer is that we will see more people come to know the Lord Jesus, that the members of our churches will mature in their faith, that new leaders will be raised up and released to serve and finally that our churches will practice multiplication by starting new groups.
10 Things That Make These Churches Different
#10 – Question #9: Rate how involved the senior pastor is in the leadership of the Sunday School/Small Group ministry of the church? (1 = Not Involved and 10 = Totally Involved)
- 80% of the churches responded with a rating of 8 or higher. Only 8.57% of the churches rated their pastors involvement with a score of 5 or less.
The involvement of the senior pastor is vital to the health and growth of the groups’ strategy in the local church. The level of involvement of the senior pastor is different in every church. It can be something as simple as hosting a group in the home of the pastor or attending a Sunday School class on a weekly basis. It could also include conducting leadership meetings and enlisting the various group leaders. There are some cases where the pastor actually taught a Sunday School class. In these fast growing and healthy churches the pastor is doing more than giving lip service to the Sunday School and/or small group ministry. They are serving as the primary leader or they are serving as the primary resource provider.