When your church or organization stops growing, there’s a reason. If the church or business wasn’t growing before you came, there’s a reason. If the organization hasn’t grown in the last 10 (or 20 or 30) years, there’s reason.
What’s the reason? What’s the lid?
It could be community. If your community is losing population, it’s hard to grow. You may be doing good to stay even. Check your demographic data by zip code at US Census By Zip Code.
How do you grow a church or an organization in a stagnant or declining community? Be willing to reach people no one is reaching. Most churches in a declining community want to reach an ever shrinking piece of the demographical pie. They want to reach financially secure people who are eager to become perpetuators of the church’s culture and legacy.
In a declining small town adjacent to us, three “First” type churches remain. Each is trying to reach people who are like them: Middle class, white, Republican, people who are eager to help the churches perpetuate 1955.
When I ride through that town, I see African Americans, mixed race couples, Democrats, twice divorced couples who now live together without marriage. Most of these folks are living paycheck to paycheck, driving trucks, serving as practical nurses, or working at a local plant. The kids are yours, mine, and ours, and “who knows?” They do not live in the slowly decaying mansions on Main Street. They live in low sloped ranch homes on the fringe of town or on five acres in a double wide out in the country.
This is the group that doesn’t go to church anywhere.
How do you reach this group that no one else is reaching?
What do they need? In church world, the obvious answer is they need Jesus. But before they meet Jesus, they will most likely need to feel like church is a safe place. That means the preaching has to change. They need a gift that shows them you really care – like an offer to take care of their kids for a night – for free. They need not to be shamed. They need someone to explain a next step of faith to them over a biscuit at Hardees. They need someone to call when their kid gets busted for possession or turns up pregnant at 14.
The same principles apply to your organization or business. In the skeptical world we live in now, people ask, “Why should I trust you?” Have you given them a reason? They ask, “What’s in it for me?” What do you bring to them that no one else can?
To reach these folks, churches, businesses, and organizations will have to streamline. Obsolete ways will have to be thrown overboard. You will need to try, fail, learn, and try again.
You can grow God’s body wherever there are people who need Jesus. You simply have to be willing to do what no one else is doing to reach them