10/14/2011 8:26 AM
They say a leader's first job is to define reality. That's what I've been trying hard to do with the present status of our church recently. Asking the hard questions: How are we doing? Where exactly are we? Are we healthy? Are we growing? What's working? What's not working? What's the next step?
Of course, there is a ton of prayer that is wrapped around every part of this process.
But then there is this challenging quest to find tangibles that define the spiritual. This is where it gets difficult because so much of what we do is impossible to measure in tangible ways. Some things are 'immeasurable' and other things are impossible to place a value around.
But we need to do the best we can with what we have so we try to use what we know.
The first question I want to answer is: Is BHCC church growing? And if so, at what rate? Fortunately, there are finally some reliable studies and resources out there to draw from. These things were not there when we first planted this church. Here's the results of my examination and my conclusions. I will also share some great statistics with you.
Our church has grown by around 12% from last year, and by 44% since we relaunched it in 2007 (4 years). That's pretty amazing growth! Especially since every church looses around 10% of their congregation a year, and in that department, we're very average!
So not only does the church have to continually replace the 10%, we must seek to grow on top of that.
Our giving has stayed about the same since last year, but since 2007, it has grown by 74% which is phenomenal! (We do need more growth though!)
We have grown by almost 100 people since 2007, that's an average growth of about 25 people a year. Most churches only retain 10% of their visitors, on average, we retain 15-20% of our visitors. In other words, we're doing a really good job of welcoming people and helping them get connected in our church. (At least compared to average!)
Most churches have an average of around 3% of their Sunday attendance as first time visitors. BHCC averages around 6%! This means we're doing 'above average' in attracting first time visitors. Yeah God!
So this helps answers questions like, how are we doing in attracting new people? How are we doing at welcoming new people into our family? Do we have a back door problem? Are too many people not staying long term?
In many areas, we're doing average or above average! On paper, our statistics fit the profile of a rapidly growing church. We've baptized over 70 people since the church began, and baptized 17 just this past summer!
So what's the problem? It feels like we are growing sooo slow to me. I feel frustrated and 'anxious' to see this church growing at a greater, exponential kind of rate. I look at the numbers and think, wow, we're doing really well! And the fact that we are in one of the absolute, most difficult places in the country to grow a church, AND, we have a female senior pastor, we're doing something very phenomenal!
This is pioneering work for women. I can't find hardly ANY non-denominational, female founding / senior pastors anywhere in this country! Our area is very anti-women pastors overall. And I have to keep reminding myself of this fact of life!
I see no churches on the whole east side of Rochester that are having more growth than us. In fact, most of the churches all around us are either status quo or dying. Yes, a few are growing, but those that are, have been growing slow & steady like us. (Well, it's not that slow according to statistics but it feels that way to me at times.)
My calling feels like a double-edge sword to me at times. I am so completely driven to reach lost people for Christ and to see God's church GROW! I think about it 24/7. I lay awake at night praying for how I can better serve Christ in this way. I cry over lost people. My heart continually grieves and is so burdened for lost souls! But this obsession of mine drives me crazy at times. :-) Yes, I praise God abundantly over each soul we see get saved, but I keep seeing all the lost and drifting souls that are on the highway to hell and being an average church is so not good enough! Not when so many souls are at stake!
Sometimes I wonder if my frustration comes partly (or wholly) from a selfish place. I know my flesh is selfish and ambitious and wants to succeed and be seen as successful. I continually pray about such motives and ask God to remove them. (Although, sometimes I wonder if it is not just Satan accusing me of such things?)
Oh well, at the end of the day, I pray that I am able to NOT make it all about me and instead keep it all about Christ. I so want to give Him EVERYTHING I have in me! I want to give Him my absolute best because that's what He deserves!
I'd love to hear from some other church planters on how their churches are doing and how they deal with all the emotions that connect too how our churches are doing. :-) Please leave a post!!!
Peace in Christ Alone!