Church growth and church health fascinate me.
I’m always on the look out for church growth strategies that work. I’m interested in proven tactics that get the job done.
I’ve asked four pastors from Sydney, Australia to share with us church health and church growth strategies that work for them in their context.
They pastor different churches from various movements.
However, they have one thing in common.
They all pastor in Sydney, one of Australia’s mega cities.
Sydney is a global city that manifests all the characteristics of western unbelief especially close to the city.
It’s fast, materialistic and it’s obsessed with doing its own thing.
The church, while tolerated, is not new and not necessary so how do we stay healthy and growing?
1. Understand where people live – relevance is not a style its understanding what’s going on for people. People work hard are time poor and both parents work. People travel more for work and play so want to travel less for church. Take a long view of growth
2. Be authentic not awesome – everyone is over entertained and undervalued. People are looking for real not surreal. People need to see a church that looks like Jesus …a human face with the Holy Spirit.
3. Understand our own values and make them explicit and ‘feelable.’ In a low trust culture people need to know why. Why helps us to decide what and helps us to be ourselves in the community
4. Build a team of leaders with long term church goals – A team must spend significant time with each other to embody values and that means paying for them
Be a monoculture – we are a community of “differents”. In cities despite the tolerance ethic, people are devolving into ‘like’ cultures and community is difficult to find. Like cultures don’t grow because they don’t get to know the other.
The city is cosmopolitan we should be too. Multi culture keeps church adapting and thinking.
The world talks about love but we can embody it by bringing all kinds of cultures together in Christ and that is attractive.
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I have always sought to bring focus and rhythm to the ministries I have led.
It becomes a great foundational strength.
Coming into the Sydney context with its driving pace and activity, it was very important to establish ‘biorhythms’ in the church we lead – a ‘predictable’ and established annual pattern that we are able to build the church within.
This rhythm allows for times of expansion and rest, sowing and reaping, building and breathing.
It helps the people of Shirelive to build with us as they are able to flow with the established rhythms.
It creates signposts in the year, helps establish your reputation in the community, builds trust and allows for increasing influence as the rhythm supports our purpose.
When the foundational things are set in place, there is freedom to move with the Spirit of God rather than devoting energy and resource to things that have already been established within a meaningful and well thought through rhythm.
This is not so much a strategy as a state of being, a commitment to the long term, to never giving up.
Over the years I have tried to do what I have sensed God is saying and then to stay with it until He changed His mind.
I am not a fad maker or follower, and in my experience most of them are contextual – that is they work in a place because of a set of reasons that that church has and our church doesn’t.
I do the ‘Plod of God’.
Nothing special, just a long obedience in the same direction to borrow a phrase!
This perseverance has meant that others have risen, and unfortunately some have fallen around us, and we have continued to be faithful to what we believe God has asked of us.
It has meant sacrifice and hard work, blessing and pain at times.
It has meant times of feeling like giving up where we have been pressed from every side and heaven has seemed like brass.
Yet I have chosen to take the next step, and the one after that and found that God has blessed this walk with fruit.
People’s lives change as a function of faith and patience, it is as the writer to the Hebrews reminds us in Hebrews 6:12.
It has been the last 4 years, as we shifted our focus from external leadership traits to internal leadership awareness, that we have really begun to see and experience a deeper leadership growth.
Spiritual Leadership Formation focuses on creating internal awareness for the leaders journey.
We develop an understanding of how we are wired internally and how to choose the behaviourial pathways that produce healthy and productive outcomes.
Over a year, we combine prophetic insights, with extended times of personal reflection, with teaching around mindset and behaviourial patterns, to give a leader a powerful experience of self discovery and growth.
“It really has been an amazing journey for me this year – I have learnt so much about myself and it has given me a great new confidence in who God’s made me to be and his direction in my life” Spiritual Leadership Formation participant