How to make sure your church is unlikely to grow!

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I just came across a helpful guide to preventing the growth of your church – or at least making it hard to draw in any new people. Here is the summary:

  1. Don’t have a website.
  2. If you have a website make sure it looks like a 1970s video game. Better still – don’t update it.
  3. On church answerphone messages do not put service times.
  4. Do not have a notice board by your church building.
  5. If you have a notice board make it unreadable from the road.
  6. Meet in a place different to where you normally meet without putting this on your website or church notice board.
  7. Do not have anyone greeting or welcoming at the church door before the service.
  8. In major holiday and tourism destinations, do not put information in camp grounds, motels, hotels, or tourist offices.
  9. Do not have a New Year celebration.
  10. Do not have an advertisement or presence in local newspapers or radio.
  11. A bonus to make visitors feel extra unwelcome in your club, do not explain unusual practices your church has.

You can read the whole thing here.

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At last: the secret of church growth!

It’s probably more than 30 years ago that I heard George Verwer saying something to the effect that you can tell more about the health of the church by reading the ads in Christian magazines than by reading the articles. I’m reminded of that by this recent ad that appears to hold the key to doubling your congregation!

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We’ll leave aside the question of whether it’s always a good idea to double the size of your congregation (might two congregations of 250 each be more effective than one of 500?), and reflect on what appears to be an amazing promise – certainly if the blurb is taken at face value.

According to the eChurchGiving website, what’s on offer is ‘an innovative, cloud-based solution designed to increase generosity across your ministry.’ Once you get the Pushpay app, your people can give in 10 seconds ‘wherever, whenever they like – ensuring the moment is never missed.’

To be clear, good organisation is important for the growth of a church. If you doubt that, read Acts 6. And no doubt the right app can help with good organisation. Imagine  what Stephen, Philip and their friends could have done with an app to organise the food distribution. And churches need people to give.

But let’s catch ourselves on (as they say in Northern Ireland).

Are we to believe that if you give your members a way to donate in 10 seconds your church is going to double in size?

How did the early church grow so rapidly and the gospel spread so effectively when the apostles didn’t have computers? Might even more people have been added to the church daily if Peter had had an iPad? Are we really to believe that Barnabas and Paul would have been more effective in Antioch if they had had iPhones? And in terms of giving, would it have been a lot easier for Barnabas to bring the proceeds from the sale of his field to the apostles if he had had access to PushPay? Funny, Acts 4 does not seem to say that.

What the early church had was the power of the gospel, the work of the Spirit and the hand of the Lord with them. The church grew and the gospel spread.

I guess there is something about us that is drawn to the quick fix (and the advertisers know it). The silver bullet. The long awaited solution.

By all means get an app to make it easier for people to give. But please don’t even try to hint that the secret of doubling the church is an app.

What was it Jesus said about vines and branches…?