One of the common questions I have heard ministry leaders ask is this: what are the mega-churches doing right that we’re not doing?
That’s actually not a bad question. I don’t believe that you should focus solely on comparing yourself with other churches in your areas, but learning from our Christian brothers and sisters can be a good idea.
The fact is, the mega churches you and I often hear about are clearly doing something right that causes their attendance to hit 20,000+ each weekend. Some of these churches might be Evangelical, Mainline Protestant, non-denominational, or Catholic. They each bring their own charisms to the community of Christ, which is why they attract different populations of Christians.
I had the fortune of attending 3 different churches when I was in high school. Each were different denominations. Then, in college, and early in my ministry career, I made it a point to visit other churches on numerous occasions. Sometimes I visited them out of curiosity. Other times, because a friend invited me. Each visit was a tremendous learning opportunity.
From my experience, there are 4 tactics that mega churches use that help them grow.
- Hospitality is king. It never fails. When I visit one of these churches, I’m greeted a minimum of 4 times before I enter the doors of the church. Usually, it is in the parking lot, in the main patio, and as I am about to enter the doors of the church. The same thing happens on my way out of the church. It’s not fake. It is genuine. They make me feel welcome and I often feel instantly at home. How many times are your parishioners and guests greeted before they walk into the doors of the church? And if that wasn’t enough, the hospitality team finds an opportunity to follow up with me during the week with a thank you email or card. When I receive that, I’m definitely more interested in attending in the future. Does your church have a hospitality team?
- They don’t cater to every population. Although they welcome all that choose to attend, they specialize on certain segments of the population. Maybe, at first, they focus on young families or youth. As the church grows, that is when they begin to expand their ministry to other populations that they are missing. The challenge with many churches is that they try to meet the needs of everyone. In the process, they end up meeting the needs of no one. Focusing on a target audience may be a smart way to begin to provide great ministry that will then help your ministry and church grow.
- They focus on evangelization. Churches that grow often name one of their values as evangelization. The churches that grow the most are the ones that are able to instill in everyone that evangelization is everyone’s responsibility, not just the leaders in the church. Many of the churches I have attended were often a result of an invitation from a friend. When the community goes out and invites their friends and family, some are bound to come back again, especially if they experience the kind of hospitality that makes them feel welcome. Have your members taken ownership of evangelization? It starts with the leaders in the church. If you wouldn’t invite people to your church, why would anyone in the pew do it?
- They connect you with the community. It could be a special BBQ event one Sunday, or encouraging you to be part of a small faith sharing community, or it could be a simple dinner at someone’s house. Ultimately, what gets someone to stay in a church is that they feel connected with people in the community. How can you foster opportunities for people to connect with the church community beyond the Sunday mass or service?
Notice I didn’t mention anything about good music, good preaching, or a big budget. These may be aspects that help, but I don’t believe they are primary to the 4 tactics I mentioned. Yes, every church should continue to improve its music and preaching. Once someone connects with your church, music and preaching can help them grow in their faith. But the 4 tactics come first.
Question: Which of the 4 tactics can you adopt that could help your church grow?