The top 10 social action initiatives that have an effect on church growth:
- Children’s Club – up to age 11 (apart from church children’s ministry)
- Mothers and Toddlers
- Special Needs Adults
- Pre-school nursery
- Bereavement Counselling (apart from church members)
- Festivals/Fun days
- Primary School Clubs/Summer clubs
- Caring for Elderly (apart from church members)
- Cafe open to public
- Mental Health/Stress Counselling (apart from church members)
Church size also makes a difference to the effect on church growth – the larger the church, the greater the effect. What might be some of the reasons for this? We can suggest a few:
• Larger churches have more volunteers to help in a social initiative – this enables more time to be spent with individuals and creates a buzz.
• Larger churches have more staff to help, encourage and equip their members for social action.
• Larger churches have better facilities. People are used to high standards – think Costa outlet versus a cold Church Hall. What does that communicate about the church?
• Larger churches give a feeling of ‘something is happening here’. This causes questions.
• Larger churches run many more initiatives and therefore people get ‘multiple touches’. Some people need many nudges on their spiritual journey.
• Larger churches are large because they are evangelistic – it’s in their DNA.
• In smaller churches, volunteers are often focused on ‘keeping the church running’ duties, e.g. Sunday set-up. In larger churches, members can focus outward.
• Volunteers are more empowered in larger churches? The leaders cannot be involved in everything so they have to release people and empower them.
• Larger churches are able to operate quite involved social initiatives, e.g. café.
This study suggests some interesting things with regards to effective outreach. While it’s ultimately got to come from people, effective programmes are a helpful vehicle – it doesn’t have be an either/or. Also (and I know I’ve blogged about this once before) it gives food for thought to those who think planting is the best or only way of reaching the lost. There are some things large churches can do which small ones can’t and we ought to think carefully about whether planting or growing is the best method of reaching the lost in any given context. Thoughts?