Right now, you might list several dozen things holding your church back, such as not enough money.
However, most of the things preventing your church from growing are just obstacles to overcome. And yes, you can overcome them.
Most of it comes down to planning and being willing to make a few major changes that drastically improve how others see your church and the level of engagement inside and outside your church.
1. No Plan For Growth
As simple as it might sound, do you currently have a set plan for growth? Church growth isn’t just something that happens. While a brand new church might see growth at first, that’s partially just due to curiosity.
Once the new wears off, growth slows and you might even lose members. Not only does your church need a plan to spur growth, but also a plan to maintain your current members.
If you’re just winging it, now is the time to stop. Create a list of options for growing your church and create a set plan around them. You can even use many of the items on this list to jumpstart your plan. Remember, a plan isn’t set in stone, so change it as needed to get the right plan for your church.
2. Not Measuring Results
A plan is great, but is it working? Imagine if you have 10 areas you’re currently working on to expand your reach and grow your church. Each item takes time, effort and money. What if only five of those areas were actually yielding results?
Wouldn’t it be better to invest more in those areas and eliminate the rest? However, if you don’t have a way to measure results, you’ll never know. Investing in areas that don’t work is holding your church back.
When you decide on an area to work on, determine how you’ll measure it. This may involve asking visitors how they heard about your church, asking for member feedback, using analytics (such as for a website or social media) or judging growth over a set period.
Continue measuring results, even after you know something is working. You never know when things might change and you need to try something new.
3. Avoiding Member/Visitor Feedback
Are you gathering any member and visitor feedback? If not, you’re missing out on an incredible opportunity to improve your church.
One of the biggest things holding your church back is simply not understanding who you’re ministering to. Do people enjoy your various ministry groups? Are there enough opportunities to volunteer? Do people feel engaged? Do new visitors feel welcome?
The more you know about your members and visitors, the easier it is to create the type of environment that helps you retain members and gain new ones. This feedback also helps you improve your online strategy too.
Gathering feedback isn’t always easy though. Mainly, people aren’t always comfortable providing negative feedback with their name attached. The last thing they want is to be singled out in front of everyone.
Instead, give people the opportunity to provide anonymous feedback. This could be through a form on your website, a Google survey, notecards/surveys at the church, anonymous hotline or any other method that works for your church.
4. Trying To Please Everyone
It’s hard to think that your church isn’t perfect for everyone. However, the truth is you can’t and won’t ever be able to please everyone. Trying to is just an exercise in frustration and disappointment.
As you try to change to please one person, you alienate everyone else. The more you try to change your strategy and church for different people or groups of people, the more members and visitors you’ll lose overall. This is because it shows your church doesn’t have a set mission or personality.
Think about it like this. No matter how good of a Christian you are, you don’t like everybody. Are you going to spend your time around people that give you a headache or people you look forward to seeing? The same holds true for churches. People are going to attend a church that’s the right fit for them, which can include preaching style, volunteer opportunities, ministry groups and much more.
While it’s fine to make changes to improve your church, don’t make changes simply to try to please everyone when those changes don’t fit with your church at all.
5. Not Having A Church Website
Some churches still believe an online presence is too commercial for church. However, the more people you can reach with God’s word, the better. With billions of users, why not have a church website?
Even small churches can create a church website. Not having one is holding your church back from being found when people search online. And yes, people do search for churches using Google and other search engines. Without a website, they might have five churches in the area, but none of them are yours.
You don’t need a complex site, but at least have something with six main pages to describe your church and start building a relationship. Of course, a blog is also important to keep engaging with your audience.
The good thing is a great church website actually boosts tithing, so you end up having more funds on hand to pay for the site. It’s a worthwhile investment that helps your church continue to grow for years to come.
6. It’s All About You
Sadly, you might not even realize this is something holding your church back. However, if your church seems selfish or prideful in any way, it could turn people away from your church.
A few examples include:
- Doing everything yourself
- Making your blog all about church marketing
- Turning social media into a bragging/marketing platform
- Ignoring new visitors
- Only working to build your church, but not your community
As you can see, all of these are more about the leaders and the church itself. There is no focus on ministry or reaching others. Use your site and social media to guide and teach. Welcome visitors with open arms. Get out in the community and interact.
7. You Don’t Believe In Marketing
If you’re the only church in the area, you may not actually need to invest in much marketing, if any at all. However, in most areas, you might easily have three churches of the same denomination within just a few miles.
So, how do people know which church to visit? If you’re off the main road, why should someone go out of their way to check out your church over the one that’s more easily accessible?
Marketing needs to be a part of your church budget. If you can spare even $5 to $10 per week, you can successfully market your church. There are actually even free options, which we’ll talk about later on. Take the time to take out ads, both online and offline. Host community events. Investing a little can have major results.
8. Holding Your Church Back In The Past
Has your church changed at all in the last few decades? Has the preaching style changed? Is the music still the same? Are the same exact people in charge?
While you should never compromise your church’s values, every church must evolve. This goes back to listening to what your members and visitors want and need. If you used to mainly have members who were 60 and up, but now have many members in their 20s and 30s, you’ll need to change things a little.
Don’t be afraid to change decor, ministry groups, music styles, leaders and marketing techniques.
9. Avoiding Social Media
Social media doesn’t exactly have the best reputation. It’s where people go to argue, lie and absorb fake news. However, it’s not all bad.
It’s a place where people from all over the world can connect. They can share common interests, make real connections and even worship together. Both your members and complete strangers can come together to share and grow in their faith.
All you have to do is get your church online. You don’t have to invest anything but time if you don’t want to, though ads will boost growth.
10. Not Taking Advantage Of Free Marketing
If your church has a tight budget, free marketing might sound great. Believe it or not, there are legitimate free ways to reach people beyond asking your members to invite people.
Some of the most effective ways include:
- Google Ad Grants for Nonprofits – Get $10,000 in free ad credits
- Regular blogging – High-quality posts boost search rank and reach more people
- Posting interactive content on social media – Videos, Christian memes and inspirational posts get shared, leading to more engagement
- Guest blogging on higher traffic Christian sites/blogs
The good news is starting with some of these, and maintaining them, boosts growth online and off. This leads to more tithing and a bigger marketing budget.
11. Not Ministering Online
Your church’s online presence could be holding your church back. If your online presence is all about marketing, it’s not going to yield the results you want.
While it’s important to talk about upcoming events and remind people to attend services, don’t forget to build relationships. Churches are supposed to minister and build ministry leaders. Focusing most of your blogs on teaching and guiding versus why your church needs donations will lead to far more engagement and results.
Ministry content that helps to guide, educate and inspire showcases the type of church you are. It gets shared more, which reaches more people. Overall, it’s just a more effective way to expand your church’s online reach.
12. Thinking Too Small
Do you always think of your church as small? It doesn’t matter whether you have 20 members or 2,000. Your church can still growth, minister and reach people worldwide.
Don’t get trapped into thinking your church is too small to do anything. While you might have to do things on a smaller scale, you can still get a website, engage on social media, create a growth plan and market your church.
13. Not Upgrading Your Church
When was the last time you invested in your church? This doesn’t mean marketing or creating a website. For instance, when was the last time you had your pews repaired or reupholstered? Not investing in yourself could be holding your church back.
Making physical improvements to your church shows that you want your visitors to have a good experience. You don’t have to get fancy or spend hundreds of thousands.
A few great upgrades include:
- A good sound system
- Better seating
- Guiding signs for new visitors
- New carpeting or carpet cleaning
- New heating and air
- Adding on space to accommodate more visitors (if your church is starting to fill up)
- Paving the parking area
It’s okay to invest in your church’s building. After all, it’s the house people come to to worship. It doesn’t have to be the grandest or biggest, but it shouldn’t seem like it’s about to fall down or be so cold in the winter no one can stand to visit.
14. Refusing To Delegate
It’s hard to let go sometimes, but if you’re a church leader who refuses to delegate, you’re holding your church back. No one can do everything. This is why churches need volunteers.
Welcome volunteers and train them. While you can guide them, let them lead various volunteer groups. Let them take on major responsibilities. Your church members have a wide variety of skills that can help your church grow. Give them opportunities and you’ll be amazed at what happens.
15. Not Accepting Online Tithes
A collection plate is very traditional and still works. However, many of your members may not carry cash anymore. This could easily be holding your church back. Offering card-based and online tithing options are a must for all churches.
Thanks to modern technology, your church can accept tithes by credit/debit card and PayPal and similar companies. Members and visitors can tithe via apps, your website, social media, a kiosk at your church and even with an ATM in your church.
The more options you provide, the easier it is for people to give. Don’t forget that people who don’t even attend your church may want to give based on how you’ve reached and ministered to them online. So, always offer online tithing options.
None of these have to hold your church back any longer. Start reaching more people today with your very own church website.