Thom Ranier, President and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources, recently shared these 10 key shifts churches must consider as they minister in an ever-changing world.
1. Disappearance of easier growth. 20% to 30% of the growth most churches could have had 10 year ago is gone today. Attending church is less important to many people today.
2. Land and facilities. Churches are building smaller and acquiring less land. Worship centers are being downsized—unrelated to lower attendance. Millennials have an aversion to a large gathering. There is also a shrinkage in the number of acres that are needed for a church.
3. The rise of using lead metrics. Lag metrics represented what happened in the past. Lead metrics lead to results—attendance growth, giving growth, etc. An example of a lead metric is how many times church members connected with non-church members each week. Another example is the number of people who invite someone to church.
4. Shift to community centrism. If our congregation is not significantly making a difference in the community, we will be among the congregations who do not survive. Millennials leave churches when they learn that the church doesn’t have a priority in impacting their community.
5. Financial re-focus of churches. Many churches are beginning to ask: “Why are we spending money on this and that, and are we spending the money in the most effective way?”
6. Dealing with the attendance frequency issue. The number one struggle of most churches is how often the most faithful attend. Fifteen years ago, folks were involved two or three times a week—now it is two to three times a month for the most faithful members. A significant drop-off in attendance frequency is generally because being part of a congregation has a lower priority today. Church membership has come to mean so little. We need to state up-front what it means to be a member of a church, including faithful attendance.
7. The small group mandate. Worship-only attenders leave. Those who are connected through small groups stay. Those who are in small groups give about 80% more than those not a part of small groups. There is a small group revolution taking place. Lead pastors must be the champion for small groups. On-campus small groups are growing most rapidly because of the availability of childcare.
8. Major staffing shifts. Historically, we have brought on the same types of staff members. Today, there are more virtual workers to support church staff. There are more virtual church financial managers.
9. Children, children, children. The first hire for many churches, after the pastor, should often be a children’s staff person. Safety and hygienic issues must be priorities for churches. Children should be the priority even above middle-school and high-schoolers.
10. The huge leadership edge of continual learners. Learners inside and outside their disciplines are seeing growth in their churches. Leaders must stretch themselves to learn something new every week.