Are you in church leadership?
If so, you know as well as anyone how tough business can be right now. Gone are the days of triple-digit revenue growth and billion-dollar IPOs.
But listen - don't let the challenging marketplace get you down. Instead, get creative.
Here are 8 practical ways to get butts in seats and bottom lines heading north:
1.) Pander, pander, pander. The first rule of church growth is to constantly compromise whatever deep convictions and sincere beliefs you might have, in order to make visitors feel special. Sometimes, you even need to just ask people point-blank what it is you can compromise to get them to start attending your church regularly.
2.) Study what the Bible teaches about the local church, so you know what not to do. Read up carefully on concepts like elders, deacons, and the gathering of the Lord's people, and then laugh about it with your executive business pastor later. People do not want this stuff. You're too cutting-edge for it, anyways.
3.) Two words: surprise baptisms. Hide in the bushes around your community, and jump out with super-soakers to baptize passersby. New members! Then just throw some tithing envelopes at them and make your escape. (Two more words: dancing bears - just trust us here.)
4.) Lower the bar for membership. Every local church should be easier to join than the Burger King Kid's Club. They come to church once per year? No problem. They're living an unrepentant, egregiously sinful lifestyle? Hey - who are you to judge? They can't even articulate the gospel at a Tiny Tots level? Psshh, bring 'em in! You're not gonna grow this thing by turning people away! Extra tip: even let unregenerate folks fill leadership roles - you want everyone to really super welcomed.
5.) Design your church to look like a shopping mall. When visitors wander in to pick up a coffee or go shopping in one of your bookstores or clothing stalls, ideally they won't even know they're in a church. Some of the most successful churches even keep their members in the dark about their true identity as a place of worship for years. The early church did this all the time - that's how they grew so fast.
6.) Vision cast literally everything. If a volunteer asks if she can rearrange the coffee bar next Sunday, immediately stop what you're doing and have a vision-casting meeting about it. Make sure nothing happens that is not part of the head pastor's God-given vision, no matter how inconsequential, or how unbiblical (see #2) his vision is. We're not even entirely sure what "vision casting" is, really, but all the edgy churches do it, so you know it's good.
7.) Don't ask people to serve. This should go without saying, but there are still a lot of backwards churches out there that ask people other than the well-paid staff to help out and serve the body of Christ. Remember that it's all about making people feel comfortable, rather than offering a place where they can be a part of something bigger than themselves. Say it with us: the customer is always right!
8.) Whatever else you do, don't preach the gospel. This is the golden rule of church growth, and one that - amazingly - some churches are still ignoring. Teaching that people are naturally dead in their sins and need a Savior is very, very bad for business. If you're going to tell people that Jesus is the only hope any of us have, you might as well tell them to take their business elsewhere next Sunday!
Remember: market trends ebb and flow. The truly great empires are built through dedication, hard work, and persistence, through both good times and bad.
We hope this list of time-tested methods will prove helpful to you and your team as you fight the good fight of increasing Sunday attendance.
On behalf of all of us at The Babylon Bee: Here's to a prosperous new year!