The Top 7 Obstacles to Church Growth

24D 31: The Top 7 Obstacles to Church Growth (& How to Overcome Them)

In this riveting conference, Jerry Lawson shares 7 Obstacles to Church Growth (& How to Overcome Them).


  1. Internally focused church
  2. We have substandard first impressions
  3. Worship or music ministry is out of sync with the culture around us
  4. Stagnant children ministry
  5. Non-existent follow-up strategy
  6. The assumption of connection
  7. Mission creep


  1. How important is it for the lead pastor to buy into 24toDouble and to lead the trainings?
  2. The Present Future
  3. How do I shift the culture in my church to be more inclusive of other nationalities, races, and ages?
Transcript +
Hey, this is Richard Chancy. Thank you so much for being with us today. I and Pastor Jerry Lawson today are so excited to be with you. For those of you that are not members of 24toDouble, and you don't know really who we are, or what we do, I want to give you a little bit of a 30,000 foot view before I let Jerry dive into this topic of the Top Five Obstacles to Church Growth. So Jerry and I partner together on this 24 months church growth program, we call it a Whole Church Discipleship program called 24toDouble. You can find out everything you need to know about 24toDouble, if you just go to, that's the number 24 T-O, or you can go to 24 Trial, the number, and find out everything you need to know about 24toDouble. You can even kick the tires on it for 15 days for just seven bucks. We wanted to tell you a little bit about that up front so that this whole thing doesn't become some sort of conversation about 24toDouble and what we're doing there. So before I introduce Jerry, let me tell you kind of how the format of these calls go. We do a live call like this with our members every single month, where we jump on and we answer questions about church growth and discipleship and leadership, anything that really is related to church growth and our 24toDouble program. And it's like a radio call-in show. Jerry is going to teach for a little bit today. He's going to talk about these obstacles to church growth, and then we're going to take live questions. For you to get into the queue, here's all you got to do. Just hit star six on your phone. Now, for those of you that are here, and you're here right on time, or maybe a fraction early, next week, and for the next two weeks, we're going to do these calls. When you jump on if you have a question, as soon as you get on, go ahead and hit star six, and you'll go into the queue for a question. We can't promise we're going to get through all the questions. We had a few hundred churches that signed up for the call today. We think a lot of those are coming because of the content. But some of you may have questions as well. Can't promise we're going to get to all of them. We're going to get to as many as we can. And here are the rules of engagement for those Q&A questions. We're recording this to share with our future 24toDouble members as well as we'll push the recording out to you as well. So this thing's going to be out in the wild. Okay, so just imagine that your mom is listening, and she's paying attention to what you're talking about. Okay, if you've got a sensitive question, you can feel free to jump on and just give us your first name and fire away and then nobody's going to know what's going on. Second rule, no shenanigans. Okay, most of you are on this call today, because of what we like to call Facebook, right? Because we do a lot of Facebook marketing for the Whole Discipleship program that we run. So most people came here. So every day, we deal with comments that come off of our Facebook ads. So here's all we ask, no shenanigans. We're here to help each other learn so that we can reach people that are far from God, but right outside the doors of our churches, right? So we want to make sure that this is a productive hour that we spend together here. We have an eject button, and Jessica is not afraid to use it. And then when you get on in the queue, when it's your turn, you'll be prompted, ask your best single question, so we can get to as many calls as possible in the next hour as we're going through this. If you would just ask your best question, and again, you hit star six on your phone to get in the queue to ask those questions. Okay. Now, let me give you a quick rundown of who Jerry Lawson is. Pastor Jerry Lawson has distinguished himself as a premier church leader in the state of Alabama. His obvious passion for the local church is apparent in everything he does. In January of 2002, Jerry and Leslie Lawson launched Daystar Church in Cullman, Alabama with a core of less than 100 people. Jerry always said they started with a 60-year-old church that had 60 60-year-olds. Since that time, Daystar has seen unprecedented growth. Today with a congregation of several thousand worshiping across five campuses, Daystar continues to grow rapidly reaching those overlooked by most churches. Pastor Jerry currently mentors hundreds of churches through the 24toDouble process and provides free training to thousands more just like we're doing today, every year in more than 25 countries. Pastor Lawson continues to be in demand as a guest speaker and trainer for both nationally and internationally, particularly on the subjects of leadership, church growth, and church revitalization. Jerry, thanks so much, number one, for enduring what I just went through right there. And thanks for being with us today and being ready to do some quality teaching. Well, Richard, thank you for having me on here today. And special thanks to Jessica for making sure all this works. And I'm just super glad all these pastors are here with us today, church leaders, we may have different leaders in the church that are not necessarily the senior pastor, but I'm super glad that you are on. And if I could just say to you right now, I don't have any time to waste. You're a pastor, you don't have any time to waste. So we're going to do our very best to give you the most content and the most help in one hour that we possibly can. Although Richard, I will have to say I didn't know about the no shenanigans rule. That is going to cut down on a lot of what I had planned for the day if I'm not allowed to do these shenanigans. But I appreciate that anyway. So do you want me to take off, Richard? Just go into it? Yeah, I think let's run with it. Jerry is going to run through some content. If you want to get in the queue, star six, if you're just coming on. And Jerry, take it away. And then when you want to switch, when you're ready to switch to the Q&A, just let me know. Okay, so what we'll do, guys, I'm going to give you a good bit of content here, the title is Five Obstacles to Church Growth. As I was putting together this content, I couldn't stop at five, I actually have seven. And if we have enough time, we'll go there. And I'll reserve the right to think of new ones in the middle of my teaching. So there may be more. But there are so many things that just quite frankly, the American church today is doing poorly. The fact of the matter is, there was a time in American history when 80% of the population attended church on a given weekend. By the Second World War, I think it dipped below half that before the Second World War when we went back into war, like there always is in crisis times, there was a national revival, got us back up to 40%. And in fact, if you ask most people today, a Gallup poll will tell you 40% of Americans attend church. But when you actually survey them, and you see the actual attendance, that number is actually closer, just a hair above 20% on a given Sunday right now. And according to current growth models, or actually I should say, decline models by the year 2050, that number should be around 11%, or slightly under. So what that tells me is we are doing the American church is fighting a real battle, we have a real enemy. And we are not gaining ground, we're actually losing ground in 49 states, the church is losing ground to the growth of the population, all states except Hawaii. Hawaii is actually seeing revival at a pace faster than the growth. And I would argue that's because Hawaii is really much like a mission state. So there are some real reasons why churches are not reaching their fullest potential. They're not seeing growth. I'll say this real quickly. It'll be a little while before we get to questions. But I want to hear your questions as we get toward the end of this content. But I'll say this real quickly, I don't have any trouble with numbers and church growth. I'm all about church growth, because every number has a name, every person is a story, and every story and every person matters to God. And so while you might not be into counting numbers, what I did notice is that every time Jesus did anything significant, somebody counted. We know how many disciples he had, we know how many he sent out at a later time, we know how many were in the upper room, we know how many were fed 5,000 one time, 4,000 another time. We know how many get saved when Peter preached on the Day of Pentecost, there's actually a whole book of the Bible called Numbers. So numbers are not a bad thing. We want to increase our attendance, we want to increase our impact on our community. In fact, that's why after I learned so much, and my church grew from, like Richard said, 60 60-year-olds to this church. And by the way, it didn't grow to that, because we had a parent organization or a mother church or a church consult, we didn't have any of that. We do didn't have. And this is just before all these internet, things like you're participating in right now, these things didn't exist, just 15 years ago. It wasn't because we had a bunch of cash. The average per capita giving was $15 per person per month, when we started. That number is exponentially higher. In fact, we may get to that a little bit later if you keep doing these call-ins. So I'm only expressing all that because I know when I've gone to conferences, or I've heard teaching, my natural tendency is to think well, yeah, that won't work at my church because of this, or that won't work at my church because of that. Let me just tell you, I started this church in a town with 491 people, that's the whole town 491. All right. And now it's thousands every Sunday, I started this in a very rural town with no money whatsoever. So it's not a big population, it's not a lot of money. We didn't have a parent church to start us. What I'm telling you is there are some things that you can learn, that will work wherever you are. 24toDouble is in major cities. Our Daystar Church has campuses in larger cities now, so it works. Let me get to what I'm talking about. I don't want to meander around five obstacles. And here's the first one if you're writing these things down, the number one obstacle in church growth is the internally focused church. Number one, if you have an internally focused church, the church is not going to grow. We have to strive to engage people outside of the walls of our church. It's the culture we live in, we don't get up and we don't get up and say to ourselves, well, all I'm going to think about is myself. I'm going to quit thinking about lost people. I'm going to not be externally focused. That's not what's happening. Nobody is getting up and deciding, I don't care about the world. But the culture we live in demands that we think about what kind of songs the church attenders who are already there want, what kind of sermons they want, what kind of ministries they want, what kind of activities do they want. Unless you are very intentional about being outward focused, you're going to default right back in. It's like the church is in a rut, and you might climb out a little bit and have one program that is outside of that rut, but then you roll right back down in the middle that rut. And so there has to be an intentional shift. I was talking to a guy just yesterday, who came to our church from a very old traditional church, and they was somebody trying to get him to go back to that older church. And he said, "Let me tell you this," he told this other guy. He said, "If I gave 15, if I invested $15,000 in my old church, you know what would happen with that $15,000? They'd probably put cabinets in the basement of the church. But when I invest $15,000 in the Daystar Church, man, I know it's going outside the walls of this church." This is unsolicited. He just wanted to tell me this. I know it's going to missions. I know it's going to hungry people. I know it's going to needy people in our community. Now, let me point this out. It might go to basement cabinets, at Daystar Church. We don't have a basement, but it might go to cabinets at Daystar Church. We got to have cabinets just like the little churches. But I'm talking about where you put your focus, and how you promote what really matters. Yes, we have to pay salaries. Yes, we have to pay mortgage payments. And we pay things like insurance and things that don't motivate people. But we put our focus on what we do outside the walls of the church. So I would just ask you, like, do you have a missions team in your church? Do you have an outreach team in your church? We just got back from a missions event, and saw I think it was over, I don't remember the exact number, it's over 10,000 people were saved in the 10, 40 window. My missions director told me that that averaged out to $2 and 33 cents for every soul saved. So we're telling it in those terms, so that people recognize that we're outreach focused. Couple things you need to have, you need to have a website that is other focus, okay? Your website should just simply be a resource for first time guests. There's really no reason for your members to go to that website. There's just nothing there. Anything you want to promote that is connections based or program based should be on social media, Facebook, Instagram, other social, Twitter, other platforms. But if somebody wants to know who this church is, what do they believe in? Who's the pastor? Where did he come from? What's the history of this church? Here are some sermons I can see what the church is about. That ought to be your website. Our website over the years has shrunk down to very little. You can check it out at, TV as in television TV, You ought to have custom apps. We have an app for our church. And man, all the sermon content, the small groups, the giving is there. We have notifications, so if we have a new series coming up, their phone is going to notify them just like your phone will notify you, you need updates for whatever program. Or if you're like me, one of my kids is about six years old, he'll grab my phone and he'll have a Donkey Kong or what, I'm sure it's not Donkey Kong, that's probably a million years old. But I'll get some silly notification that says Donkey Kong is out of bananas or something. Well, your church can be giving the same kind of notifications. But of course, not banana notification. But those are outreach focused things where you're reaching out. Your Facebook page should push content, your social media should do that. I would ask you too about how you market? Is your church actually marketing yourself in the community? Are you using social media to do that? Are you using whatever email addresses you've got? We consider those to be hot leads. So every time if we've got your email, that means you interacted with us in some way, you visited the church. I'll talk about a follow-up a little bit more farther on. But we're constantly thinking about who's not here. Instead of thinking about who is here, we are constantly, when I'm writing a sermon, I'm thinking about who's in the building for the very first time today. This sermon's got to speak to him. I'm not worried about what brother Joe, who's into the prosperity gospel thinks about it, or this guy over here who's a cessationist and doesn't believe in the spiritual gifts, or this person over here, who's a Calvinist, I don't care about what they're thinking. I'm caring about that lost person, the person who's never been to church in their life. I'm entirely externally focused. We're doing serve projects all through the week, we're constantly doing something, building a wheelchair ramp for an elderly woman. We're painting the hallways of a school in our community that doesn't have enough resources and funds. So we are constantly being externally focused. I could go on and on about that. I could spend the whole hour on that. Here's the second thing that's killing church growth. We have substandard first impressions. First impressions, meaning when you first walk through the doors of your church, when someone comes on the grounds, what is their first impression of your ministry. Now, everybody listening to me right now, all your members say we go to the friendly church. Every church thinks they're friendly, because they're friendly to the people they know. They're friendly to each other. But they're clumped up, they're in circles. We do a great deal of teaching on how to create an atmosphere of welcome. And here's the thing, before you get to the what, there's a lot of what on how to do that, where to stand, what words to say. I mean, literally, we teach what words to say, how to escort people around, how to recognize a first time guest, by the way they dress, by the way their head is moving around and looking, by where they park, all that stuff, how to do parking lot ministry, how to do, we have a thing called a [inaudible 00:17:12], our lobby host. We have a plan your visit app on our app or on our website. But before you get to all of the, what you do, you really have to communicate why we do this, what is the why of first impressions? It's got to be Jesus's story of the prodigal son, that's got to be the why, that I am the father or the mother, I'm standing out over the driveway, and I'm looking for my lost son to come home. Every single face that I don't recognize is a prodigal coming home, or a potential prodigal coming home. So, there's no way I'm going to be over here talking to some guy about the football game, or some person over here about the new restaurant that opened up, there's no way I'm doing that. One of God's lost children are coming up that driveway. And so I'm not going to clump up like that. So we've got to begin with that. And with that, why in place, let me tell you a few whats you ought to have in place. There ought to be a wow factor when people come on the ground. So you're going to have an E team, we call them the E team, the Excite team. And it's just young people out there exciting the people all over the property. So right as you pull up on the driveway, there's somebody holding up a sign that says welcome home, and it's a young teenager, 12, 15, 18-year-old kid out there, just kind of shaking the sign out on it. It just kind of gives you a wow, we're going to have another goofy looking kid over here holding the sign that says free hugs. And the biggest kid on the youth group is giving everybody hugs or whatever. We got somebody else over here saying you belong here or something like that's the E team. They're just kind of creating an atmosphere that makes things seem less intimidating, less threatening, because most people that are not regularly in church, they're not there because they feel like they don't belong. They're not good enough, everybody there is holier than I am. And I just don't fit here. So we're eliminating that belief altogether. We got a parking team that is greeting people. I could talk a lot more about a parking team. You don't really have to need parking. If you design your parking lot well, and you have an architect that designs the ingress and egress, you don't need parking attendants, as far as getting people on and off the property. But it creates an excitement both in the person serving and in the people who comes up. And it also gives you an opportunity to first engage the newcomer who comes on the grounds and hey, men just like it. You give a man an orange vest, orange cones, a flashlight, and a radio, and there's something in him that's going to go crazy. I mean, he's just going to like it. It's all part of the wow factor. We're going to have a plan your visit. If you go to our website, you're not going to be on the website for more than 10 seconds before a pop up is going to come up that says plan your visit, go ahead and click on it and pretend like you're planning your visit today. So we've had tremendous growth in that area where people want to check out the church and they want to plan before they come and answer so many questions for them. And so we got a lobby host waiting on the people who planned their visit. We told them where to meet us. We're going to walk them through the building, we're going to welcome them or show them where kids check in is, where the bathrooms are, where the kids church is. We're going to show them just all the different things. And so, churches aren't growing, because we're assuming that we've got the nicest, biggest smile on the front door, and that's enough. That's not enough. You have to have a strategic plan to make people feel welcome. You want to make that feel like heaven on earth. That's your second reason churches aren't growing. The third reason is that our number three if you're writing this down, worship ministry, or music ministry, is out of sync with the culture. Our worship or music ministry is out of sync with the culture around us. We're talking about contextualization. Are you in context with the culture that you live in? What kind of music are you having? Okay. I went into one church that had bluegrass gospel music. Okay, that's fine. If you live in the foothills of Kentucky and everybody loves bluegrass, you should have bluegrass, but not because the worship person just happens to love bluegrass and can pick a banjo, that's not a good reason to do bluegrass. If you got a handbell choir, it ought to be because you live in some community where fine arts is a big deal. But it's not because the senior adult who's in charge of worship happened to go to visit the church that had handbells, and now they want to have handbells. There's got to be a reason. I think it was Will Rogers who said, "If you aim at nothing, you hit it every time." You got to figure out who are you aiming at? Like who are we trying to reach? What are the people we're trying to reach? If you are aiming at 80-year-olds, then sing The Old Rugged Cross every Sunday, because they're going to love that song. If you're aiming at 50-year-olds, you might be singing shout to the Lord all the earth, because that's the song they grew up in church on, maybe. Okay, if you're aiming at 20 and 30 somethings, then you're going to be on some more modern type worship. All right. You got to ask yourself, who are we trying to reach? And the word contextualization is to say, what is the context that I'm bringing this worship in? Who are the people we are trying to reach? I don't care who that is. Now, I could give a whole another talk on who I think you ought to aim at. But today, I'm not going there. But you need to know who you're aiming at and who you're trying to reach. And it can't just be, well, the people in our worship ministry love this music. Well, the people in your worship ministry are already saved. Okay, they're already bought into your church. We're reaching for the people who are not in your church. Well, this is the song they were singing the day I got saved, and just it moves me. Well, that's wonderful. But is it going to move a lost person in 2019, and beyond? That's the real question we should be asking, not did it move me when I got saved way back when? But whatever it is you did, like Ecclesiastes 9:10 says, "Whatever you do, give it your absolute best." Make sure you give it your all. I had a friend that was doing some consulting at a charity, he's a worship guy. And he was at their modern service. And if you could see me, I'm holding up air quotes right now because it wasn't very modern, but the modern worship service they were doing, and they were singing the song about I lift my hands to the Lord. And he said, not a single person in the building lifted their hands. Nobody in the audience lifted their hands, nobody on the platform lifted their hands, the pastor didn't lift his hands, the worship team didn't lift their hands, and the worship leader didn't lift their hands. That just communicates that you don't really believe in what you're singing. Now, don't get me wrong. I don't care if you lift your hands or not. There's ample evidence in Scripture about lifting our hands in the sanctuary. But it doesn't really matter. You pick your style, you get led by the Holy Spirit about how you're supposed to worship. But for heaven's sake, be bought into what you're singing. If you're saying we're going to lift our hands, lift your hands. If you don't believe in lifting your hands, don't sing about lifting your hands. That's the problem with the American church. We just go through the motions. We're just going through the motions. This church sang this song, so we're going to sing this song. No, ask yourself, who are we? Who is God calling us to be? And let's get sold out on that. So that's the third thing that is keeping us from growing is that we're out of sync with our culture. We're not bought in. Here's the fourth thing, stagnant children's ministry. Stagnant children's ministry, old school practices, we lose the kids' attention, we fail to engage. We just don't have the kind of cutting edge exciting children's ministry that we know that kids want to enjoy today. Think excellence, think energy, think Disney World. I mean, those are the kinds of things these kids are exposed to on a regular basis. I'm not saying that you're there to entertain them. I want you to give them a real worship experience, real teaching, but do it in a way that connects with who they are. There ought to be true worship going on, there ought to be real learning going on, there ought to be real prayer going on, and they ought to have homework when they leave there. Two questions that parents ought to be able to ask their kids and get an immediate answer are, did you have fun? And what did you learn? We want them to say, "Yes, I had a great time. I can't wait to come back." And what did you learn? We want to be able to answer that question. That's what I ask my kids every Sunday when they leave kids church, did you have fun? And what did you learn? If they can't answer that question, then we need to reevaluate how we're doing. Now, if I had a lot more time, I'd go into what 24toDouble teaches about putting people in their area of gift and passion. But if you've got somebody serving in children's ministry, and they don't want to be there, they're just serving out as in a prison sentence because there's nobody else that will do it, I just would suggest to you that you're better off to have no children's ministry at all, than to have the wrong person leading children's ministry. Because when the wrong person is in that seat, it's not just that they're giving a passion less effort, or maybe a talent less effort, but they're also blocking a seat for the person God wants to send you. Think about it like this pastor, we're people of faith too. We want to challenge our membership to take steps of faith by sharing their faith with others or being givers or doing these other Christian disciplines that require faith. But what about us? We should be living out that faith. I know what it's like. Listen, when I started our church, we didn't have kids church, we didn't have it. We didn't have a youth group. I know what it's like to not have that, and it's scary. I remember a young family coming in with three kids. The first question, I met them in the lobby, and I still remember this all these years later, they said, "Hey, where's kids church?" I had to tell him, we don't have a kids church yet. But hey, that guy's an elder in my church all these years later. But they didn't come back for months. I mean, for a long, long time. But I would rather not produce a bad ministry to people because we don't have passion. So you've got to have the right person with the right kind of passion and the right heart. Another thing we don't do well, if we don't leverage kids' activities to invite others to church. Your children's ministry is one of the most powerful invite tools that you will ever have. And so anytime you can get kids to do anything, and we teach this in 24toDouble, I say the difference in a growing church and a dying church can be summed up in one word, I want you to think if you could guess what my one word is going to be. Think for just a minute of what that is. I think there's one word that sums up the difference in a growing church and a dying church. And you might think it's theology, but I've seen churches that have terrible theology still grow. You might think it's money or any number of things. Here's the word, invite. Invite. I've seen churches, the preacher is terrible, and the church is growing because they have an invite culture. I've seen churches where the worship is awful, and they're growing because they have an invite culture. One of the best ways to create an invite culture is to leverage whatever your children are doing. At Daystar Church, the Sunday before our big Christmas celebration, we always have kids on the platform singing. Why? Is it because we're into raising up the next generation of singers? Well, sure, but that's really not why we're doing that. We're doing it because we know if you put little Johnny up there on the platform, little Johnny's teacher, his mother, his dad, his cousins, his grandparents, aunts, and uncles, principal of his school will come watch little Johnny sing whatever little Christmas song he sings. If you leverage it, you can't just tell Johnny, go invite your family and friends. I mean, you've got to have a machine behind the invite culture. And so that's something we teach, you've got to leverage your children's ministry. Number five, I told you I'd only give you five, but I've actually got seven. If I can hurry through them, I'll give you all seven of them. Fifth reason why churches aren't growing is there's a nonexistent follow-up strategy. If I were to ask you right now, who's the head of your follow-up team? Most of you guys will be like, I don't think we have a follow-up team. It's kind of like we're catching, it's like we're trying to catch water, in a wicker basket. How could you catch water in a wicker basket? You could pour a million gallons of water in that basket, and it's always going to have some water, but it's going to lose it out almost as fast as it catches it. And that's the way our churches, a lot of times we're doing everything possible to get people through the front door. But we've got a back door that's just as big as the front door. And so follow up, we're going to offer you guys, you keep watching your inbox, we're going to offer you a teaching, a whole structure on how to do follow up. I have spent the last two years building the best follow-up structure for my church, and it's just a matter of us getting out with people. But let me tell you, you're going to have thousands of people visit your church over the years, who will never come back, and they'll fall away. And before I tell you a little bit about what to do to have effective follow-up, let me tell you a little bit about why that's important. Here's why, and I heard this from, gosh, I'm trying to remember the pastor's name. Jimmy Evans, you may know him from Marriage Today, he pastored the church in Amarillo. Now he's on staff at Gateway Church. Jimmy Evans said you need to think about your church like this. You need to think this reality, the best way to kill your dog is to go on vacation and ask your three best friends to feed it. And he said, here's what's going to happen, that dog is going to starve to death because all three of your friends are going to think the other two guys are feeding it. And he says you need to think about your city like you're the only church that's going to ensure people miss hell and make it to heaven. I'm telling you, that may be a weird analogy for you. But that is exactly how I taught my staff and my team to expect it. In my head, I know there are other churches in the community who are preaching the gospel and loving people in, but I will not let myself to even think that way. Because I'm believing that when a first time guest walks through the doors of our church, I am the last line of defense before they plunge into hell. That's why follow-up matters so much, because they may never come back to another church. They may not live another week, if they don't hear the gospel this weekend. So my why is that I know that at least for this moment, I'm standing between them and destruction. And I'm not assuming that they left our church, well, they're in church somewhere. Let me tell you, I've been pastoring the same place. I started this church 17 years ago, and I've been in the same place all these 17 years. I've been around long enough to know that if they leave your church, they're probably not going to another church. They're probably going to tell you they went to another church, and they did visit another church, but they're probably not in church at all. Many of you pastors who have been long-term pastors, you are nodding your head right now up and down, because you know what I'm telling you is the truth. So why not have it in your heart that we must welcome people, and we must follow up on people in such a way that we believe, if not for us, they may miss eternity. So the follow-up team has got to be a big team. And you've got to find every possible way to know who's here. Now, if your church is very small, you may be able to know off the top of your head who's not there. But if the church grows, you're going to have to be more strategic in it. So our first impressions team is a part of follow-up because they get a connect card. And that connect card is not a visitor card, and it's not an information card. It's a prayer card, because nobody wants to give you their information. And visitors don't come back, right? So we don't call it visitor card. We don't call it information card. We call it prayer card because everybody wants prayer. And so we get a giant stack of prayer cards every weekend. And so that's where we begin the follow-up process right there. We're going to follow up, we're going to call them, we're going to text them, we're going to email them, we're not going to visit their home, although we have done that before. But we're not going to do that in this modern culture. That's a little bit over the top, I believe. But we're going to do everything we can. We're going to reach out to them in multiple ways. All right. Then we've got the children's ministry team. Well, why are they on the follow-up? Because we're checking in, and it's really cheap, and really easy for you to have a check in system, and it makes the parents feel very secure when you check in, both our children, and on Wednesday nights, we check in our teenagers. And so we have a way of running a report that says give me a list of all the people who checked in children's church regularly, but are now not checking in over the last month. And we're going to reach out to them and not say, "Hey, I noticed my database tells me you don't go to church anymore." That's not what I'm going to say. I'm just going to say, "Hey, I haven't seen you lately. And I was just checking in on little Johnny who's always been in kids' church, and I just want to make sure everything's okay with your family. You matter to us. And we're praying for you." We're not asking people to give a reason or anything like that. But we're gently following up with them. Another team that's in the follow-up ministry is the accounting department in your church. You might say, "Well, I don't have an accounting department." You do. Somebody makes a deposit, right? And they can tell who's been giving. So we run a report in our database that says, give me all the names of the people who gave regularly, and now they've stopped giving. They might still be in the church, but they're probably not if they're not giving, and even if they are in the church, and they stopped giving, probably some life crisis has happened. And so I'm going to reach out to them. Again, I'm not going to say, "Hey, Bill, I noticed that you used to give and now you don't give. Now you're robbing God." I'm not going to say that. But I'm going to say, "Hey, Bill, kind of had you on my heart. And I just want to make sure you're doing well." Well, is that really manipulation that a database spit out Bill's name and information to me, and it had me on? No, that's how you got on my heart. I realized the fact that he's had some kind of a change, he stopped coming to church or he's stop giving. And that matters to me, because I know where your treasure is where your heart is. If you stop putting your treasure in the house of God, something's going on in your heart. And so I'm going to follow up that way. The prayer team has decision cards. When people make a decision on the decision card, we follow up with people. We have a volunteer check in, you might not be doing that. But you certainly have team leaders who's over worship, who's over first impressions, and so we know who's not been serving, and we follow up with them. In the same way, we have small groups. And so we know how many people and who was in small groups last semester, and who's not in small group this semester. And so we follow up with them. Here's my point. A successful follow-up strategy is a multi layered strategy that overlaps with intentionality. You are intentionally following up with as many people as you can. Now we're about to answer all your questions. But I'm going to do two more really quick. I've given you the first five. If you just got on here, and you haven't heard them all, we're going to record this and we're going to send it out to you via email so you can check it later. But the first one was an internally focused church. What are the obstacles to church growth? Firstly, internally focused church, you're not externally focused. The second one is substandard first impressions, because data tells us in the first seven to 15 minutes a person determines if they're coming back to your church. They haven't heard your awesome choir, your awesome worship pastor, they haven't seen your awesome building from front to back, and they haven't heard your awesome sermon pastor. What they have connected with is your first impressions team. So if you're not doing that well, they're not coming back, no matter how good everything else is. Number three, your Worship or music ministry is out of sync with culture. Number four, you have stagnant children, and I would add student ministries. Number five, you have a nonexistent follow-up strategy. I talked about that big team approach, let me give you the last two. Number six, we have what I call the assumption of connection. The assumption of connection. Dr. Owen Weston says if someone doesn't make seven friends in the first seven weeks, you have lost them. We assume people connect. Pastors you're going to know what I'm talking about when I say somebody comes to your church, your eye is drawn to them, you meet them out in the lobby or in guest central. They tell you what a wonderful church this is, how much the message spoke to them, how they loved it, how they had two or three friends they didn't even know that come to this church, how that they're looking for a church home. And you go away that Sunday thinking man, that's a new family in our church, maybe they even come back a couple more weeks. And three months from now, in your head, you just roll over, "Hey, whatever happened to that family?" I'll tell you what happened. The assumption of connection happened. We assumed that they connected, but we didn't have a process of connection. So we need a fast on-ramp to connections. Early connections are key. And what you want to do is you want to link the connections together, like a chain several weeks in a row that we connect in different ways every week, and this increases dramatically. There are studies that prove that it exponentially increases the connects, the chances of you assimilating them into your church. You need to have one on-ramp that is easy, obvious, and strategic. If you were with me in the room, I'd make you say the words again, easy, obvious, and strategic. Here's what our on-ramp is. It's called Pastor's Breakfast, we teach it in 24toDouble. It's a simple thing. Every single Sunday morning, there's Pastor's Breakfast, oh, you're new to Daystar, hey, come back and go to Pastor's Breakfast. Now we have three services in the morning, so you might not be able to go today because of what time it is I might be telling them, and one service I might be saying hey, as soon as the service is over, there's a quick breakfast, go over. In other services what I'm saying is come back next week to Pastor's Breakfast, and then you go to the next service. But logistically, you can figure out how that works. But it's a connection. That's all it is. We want to in week one, we want them back for Pastor's Breakfast, meet the pastors, hear about the vision of our church, find out how you fit in, learn what your spiritual gifts are, and how to make a difference in the community. And by the way, right after Pastor's Breakfast, there's a new Connect group we want you in. It's our first small group for you. We are a church of small groups, and the first one begins next Sunday. Now the truth of the matter is it happens every single Sunday. And I want you to go out to Pastor's Breakfast, right into the Connect group. And then out of Connect, what's going to happen in Connect group? Well, in Connect group, we're going to help you find out your spiritual gifts, your personal vision, what you're passionate about, and how to serve on the Dream Team. That's our volunteer corps. And so you can see that it's like links in a chain. Your first Sunday, we got you here, could have been because of some children's program, or it could have been a big event and an invite card came in the mail or someone handed it to you. The next link in the chain was Pastor's Breakfast. And then when he came to Pastor's Breakfast, the next link in the chain was we want you in our Connect group, and the next link in the chain is we want you serving. Now, some people don't like that. They don't think you ought to be serving. But we believe you can immediately find a place for people to serve. I think Jesus modeled discipleship, when he called an angry, cursing, lying sailor named Peter to be on his ministry team on day one. He didn't wait until Peter straightened up. In fact, three years later, we find Jesus going to the cross, Peter is around the campfire, and a teenage girl says, "Didn't you know Jesus?" And Peter proves to be an angry, cursing, lying sailor because he loses his temper, he curses at that girl, and he lies and said, "I didn't know Jesus." So why then, if Jesus would call people who are struggling, and they're a mess up, why would we wait until you've been through a 13 week membership class to let you serve? That's one of the reasons why our churches aren't growing. Get them on a quick on rapid. Here's the last thing because I've almost run out of time, mission creep. Number seven, mission creep, we have a mission, and we start out on mission. But we start to creep left and right. Those churches are doing this thing over here. Well, I heard this church is on. I was on a webinar, or on a conference call with Pastor Jerry and Daystar does it this way. You can't do that. You've got to find out who you are and what you do, and stick to your model. Keep the main things, the main things. Equally important to what you do is what you don't do. There are certain things you don't do. See, at Daystar, we do four things. We do weekend worship services, we do growth track, which is what I just talked to you about, that chain that helps you grow. We do Dream Team, and we do small groups. We only do four things, and that's it. And because we're not promoting the ladies' prayer tea, or a youth carwash, or southern gospel, I'm not saying these things don't happen. But they just happen offline. They happen through small groups, because whenever promoting those other things, it becomes very easy and obvious to understand what your next steps are. These are the four things we want you to do. So they're easy, and they're strategic, and they're obvious. So pastors, I threw a bunch at you. I know this is like drinking from a fire hydrant. But I'm going to stop right now. It looks like we've got about whatever this is, another 15 or close to 20 minutes to answer questions. Richard, if you're ready to jump in, you can take it from here. And I'll answer the questions as they come. Sure, hey, and here's the way we're going to do this is there's only a few people in the queue right now. And I don't think we have a lot of time to add more people in there. We hope you've enjoyed the training. Again, if you want to find out more about 24toDouble, will get you everything you need to know. Jessica, why don't you go ahead and queue up our first caller. And when you come on, if you'll just give us your first name, and dive in and ask your question. Good afternoon. My name's Derek, how you doing? Hey, Derek. Great, Derek. Thanks for calling. So just to focus on the number one thing that you had mentioned, the internal focus. How did you break away from that? I have a comfortable traditional church that's really enjoying the Christian country club. How do you break that up? If I can throw a second question in there, how important is it for your lead pastor to buy in? And not only buy in, but lead this 24toDouble training? For asking those questions, Derek. And I would say when you said country club, it reminded me of a book, you actually reminded me of how I got out of the internally focused. There was a book called The Present Future and that language makes me think maybe you read it, but he calls the church, country club Christianity. And he says that our tithes are our membership dues, and we get to vote on what we want the country club to be like. Man, that book just really spoke to me. It's an older book, but if you can find it, it's called The Present Future. I would say this, it's got to get a hold of you. You have got to be the carrier of this vision. Even as I was teaching today, I felt like I was fussing. I don't even know you pastors, and I felt like I was fussing, because I'm so passionate about it. So it just became every sermon I preached. I would not go out and go, "Okay, I learned seven things we need to do. And I'm going to just go do seven things." But you get them in your heart, you get completely and totally bought in on a spiritual level, and then you live it. You eat, drink, sleep it. You preach it, you teach it. Every part of your life exemplifies that we're going to do outreach. So what I did is I started doing outreach. Man, I just personally got out there and anybody want to be close to me, they're going to do outreach. And they're going to hear sermons that are focused on other people. And to the second question, Derek, the lead pastor absolutely has to be the carrier of this vision. He has to be bought in, he has to lead. Now he doesn't have to logistically lead 24toDouble. He doesn't have you know ... At some point, the lead pastor becomes a vision carrier. And he becomes a decision maker and he cast vision. But he has to be bought in and he has to ... This can't be a program that runs underneath the surface, because it does shift the whole direction of the church. All right, so that's the first question. I don't know if Derek's still with us, or if we want to go into the next question. I think Jessica was muting him because we were getting some background noise in there. Derek, are you there? Yeah, I'm here. Thank you. Okay. Did that answer your question? Yeah, absolutely. I appreciate it. Thank you. Okay, thanks. Thank you so much, Derek. Jessica, can you give us the next caller? Hey, Richard. Jerry, thanks for taking my call today, appreciate what you do. We don't have any Sunday school whatsoever for children. So, when I go to church in the morning, time I drive in, I look around, I see all the young people out walking, doing the things they do on Sunday morning. It does seem like really a lot of people are coming to church there. So we don't have anybody to teach Sunday school whatsoever, so just looking for some ideas where to start at. As far as from a pastor's perspective, how important is it to get policies and get all your material together even before you start? And then once you do get it together, what do you start looking for, and trying to put something together to get it going? Do you host events? How would you get it started? Okay, yeah, so I'm going to, again, default to start it close to you as the pastor and your personal orbit. So, whatever ministry, the fruit bearing of your ministry is going to be small at the beginning. But whatever fruit you bear, you keep investing in that person. The next newcomer, that comes to church, the next person who gives her life to Christ, the next person who shows interest or wants to connect with you, on a personal level, invest in that person, and build from there out. Your church is going to grow based on your volunteer core. It was Billy Graham, who said that you can tell how big of an event or a church or a crusade is going to be by how many people are involved. You take the number of people involved, multiply by five, that's going to be the overall attendance. So the fastest way to grow the church is to grow the core of the church. And so start with one person and I would not try to get the whole program in place. I would find that one, two, three, four people, have a small group in your home and let that small group be, the book by just remembered Reggie McNeal was the author of that book, The Present Future. But there are a lot of books out there like that, that you could find a book that motivates you and have a small group in your home. And it may not be the influencers, a lot of times the influencers in a church that's not growing, they're kind of the problem sometimes. So you start developing new influencers. You start right there and whatever your core team can put on, in terms of an outreach, or a big Easter service, or whatever they can put on, just go with that. You don't have to be able to do what the big church down the street is doing today. Believe me, we started with, like I said, very little and no great programs and horrible, moldy 60-year-old building, but we just grew brick by brick, little by little, and good progress over a long period of time makes a bigger difference than you realize. Okay, thank you. We'll definitely start heading that direction. All right, thank you so much for calling. You're welcome. Okay, who's next? When you get in the queue, you should hear a little prompt that lets you know that's your turn to speak. If you hear a little buzz like that, go ahead and tell us your name and ask your question. Yeah, and if we're not hearing you right now, and you're talking, it means you've got your phone muted, which is exactly what I just was doing. So yeah, I don't know. Jessica, if they're not coming up if there's nobody else, like she said, she's moving on to the next person, hang on one second. And when you come on, if you will give us your first name, that will be helpful as well. Good afternoon. Hello. Good afternoon. Yeah, Reverend Anthony Stevenson, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. My question today is, I've had the church for a number of years, and I'm the "head crafter" or the founder of the church here that we have in Philadelphia. My community, which I've been a part of, at least three scores is making a dynamic change in the culture. The word is gentrification, but more on the spirit side, there are many souls that are here to be received, but the languages are many that are in the community. And the cultural makeup now is not as it was 20 years ago, 30 years ago, where it was pretty much broken down in African Americans, Irish, Italians. We were kind of separated, but living together. So I guess my question is, what would you suggest internally that I need to be looking for? Because my background is in sales and marketing about 50 years, but I was joined in with you today so I could ask this question. Okay, I want to make sure that I'm understanding the question. Are you saying that you're trying to shift your church into a more eclectic whole brand so there's more people, different nationalities or different cultures in the church? Is that what you're saying? Yes. In the total community, yes. Right. Right. In terms of, do you feel like your church, Reverend, is ready? Is your leadership team, are they ready? Or would they be accepting of that kind of a shift? The reality why I believe it's ready is, we're very small. It was built from a family structure, but my core group, they're ready. But the reality of their readiness is ... I'm on a conference. The reality of their readiness is we're all around 55 to 75. Right. Yeah. So, what I would say in a church like that is, we've got to focus on who is closest to us. What is physically closest to, what neighborhood are we in, and how can we reach families? So sermons have to be family focused, you've got to be thinking, and this is something that I've had to grow into, and do a better job at is, I find myself preaching in whatever stage of life I'm in. And I want to be careful not to leave out like, there's a tremendous number of singles right now that are 30 years old, and even older. Because I've got kids, I would be preaching about family issues, child issues like that. But I would lead out a lot of people that are single and not speaking enough to those kind of issues about finding the right kind of person. And so, in your own context, you'd have to be very careful not to make all the sermons fit 55 to 75-year-olds, and that's really hard, because that's what you're looking at, when you're preaching. You're looking at people, but you want to make sure the message speaks to young families, and young professional people that are coming out of college, and be ready for that, because it's so important that when they do visit us, that we engage them where they are, and they feel like this may not have been a church full of people my age, but it spoke to me today. And so, you got to look at your neighborhood, and in a church that small, you can literally get up and you can look around the room while you're preaching and just adjust on the fly to who's in the room there. If your culture kind of preaches, or your worship service, and everything that you do on a Sunday morning kind of fits one sliver of the culture, then you're not going to reach the other parts of the culture. And so you'd have to broaden out how you preach, how you sing, what people's expectations are, so that we become more welcoming to a greater variety of people. You definitely answered all of it, because I'm one of those old young people. Okay. Yeah, good. Yeah, myself, I'm there, but it's how to get those, the core group there, you sort of answered that for me. Because that's the core group that's very supportive. But like you said, it's almost like, on Communion Sunday, you don't have to wear white and black. Just come. Yeah. That's right. That's right. And you know what, what I have done over the years, because this is a growing problem. Your church is not outside of the norm, it's right in the middle of the norm. That's what the problem is in this country, and is the growing, the aging of that congregation.Well, those are the faithful people, and we don't want to throw them out. But at the same time, we've got to remind them that their children and grandchildren are not coming to faith. You think about by the year 2050, where nine out of 10 people have no church affiliation in this country. That is not where we want to be. And so we've got to shift. There's a book called the older book I read a long time ago called Turn-Around Churches by George Barna, and he does a research on churches that turn, and we're in decline, but they turned and they grew. And he talks about when a church realizes they're at a crisis moment, then they're willing to turn. We've got to present that crisis to the congregation. I like to be positive, I like to be uplifting, but sometimes you have to say, "Hey, guys, we're at a place in our culture, where we've got to make a change." And that's where most of our churches are now. Well, that's good news. That's good news. I thank you so much. Yes, sir. Thank you, Reverend Anthony. Well, hey, Jerry, we've got a few more people in the queue. But we need to go ahead and kind of turn this thing off. If you are in the queue, we're going to do this call again next week, look out for our emails. And just for those of you that hung around this long, you know if you get on the call next week, we usually turn the call on about 10 minutes early, and turn the queue on about 10 minutes early as well. So you can jump on the call next week and just hit star six and you'll be the first one up in the queue next week. Jerry, thanks so much for this time today. You got anything you want to part with? No, just glad you guys joined me, and I promise you we'll be back next week. We'll do the very best we can to add value to your day, and I'll try to be a little shorter so I can get to a few more questions next week. But we're not making any promises. I'm a preacher, so you never know. Thanks for being with us, pastors. Again, check out 24toDouble at, and we will see you or we'll hear you on the call next week. Thanks a lot.

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