GROWING CHURCHES. Today I was perusing "The Hearbeat", the newsletter of Central Baptist Church of Clovis, New Mexico. Why, you ask, would I do that? Well, their pastor of adults and families is Mike Eberhardt, who, with his wife Robin, used to be members of my sunday school class, Koinonia. Mike was in Cowtown to get yet another seminary degree and move into a new phase of ministry. He has previously been a missionary and pastor. Also, it is interesting to see how other Baptist churches are doing and to compare them to the church I attend.
Mike's senior pastor has a column and, in this issue, he spoke of completing a survey for a graduate student at Southern Seminary. Along the way, he picked up some facts and related them in the column. Here they are.
There are about 42,000 Southern Baptist Churches. Guess how many have a weekly worship attendance of at least 200 and have experienced a growth rate of 5% or more in worship attendance for 3 consecutive years? Only 416, or roughly 1%, have experienced consistent 5% growth.
That is not very many growing churches. What makes a church grow? Mike's pastor says it is because the members invite people. That is certainly part of it. You have to have new people come in order to grow. The second part of it is, you have to keep the people that come. If as many people are going out the back door as come in the front, you will not grow.
What makes people stay in a church? One part is the congregation. The congregation must be friendly and welcoming and make the new person part of the fellowship. The second part is the preaching and teaching. The new person must feel they are edified by the preaching and teaching or, ultimately, they will quit coming, no matter how friendly the congregation is. The two go hand in hand.
Keep up the good work, Mike and Central Baptist Church.