When I was the reach Director for the Oregon Conference, I ran the numbers for measuring growth that we had. Unfortunately, all they had ever kept track of was number of baptisms. I realize that isn’t the best measurement, but it is a measurement still. So, I did an analysis of the numbers that I had. I did a look at three previous years.
- The average church in Oregon had 2-3 baptisms a year
- There were about 56 churches that had ZERO baptisms in that three year period
- There were about 100 Churches that had the average or below
- There were 20 churches that had greater than the average
The conclusion is that 20 churches were carrying the conference. This seems a little unacceptable in many situations. I realize there are some churches in some communities where this isn’t unusual, but for at least some of them, this wasn’t a good sign. Then I dug into the top ten churches for growth. Of those ten churches, only one was an anglo church, the rest were Hispanic. Nothing wrong with that. I say good for the Hispanic churches. But I really felt rest of the churches could do a better job. That one church in the top ten was my church. We barely missed the number two spot and if we had not taken a year off because of a particularly hard year of evangelism and just got our usual numbers, we would have been number one in the conference for those three years.
Then I put the word out there for the possibility of coaching any pastor or church that wants to know how to do evangelism better. I received a few replies. Some didn’t follow-through with the coaching, but eight churches did. Most of the coaching I did was one-on-one in a phone call. We met every other week for about 4-6 months, depending on the situation. Then I funded them accordingly to what their communities really needed in funding. I knew the standard answer of $5,000 was unacceptable. So we gave one small community $10,000, another we gave $15,000. Another church we gave $25,000. We wanted them to each experience a win. (there’s another blog post coming about positive funding of evangelistic efforts).
At the end of the year I ran the top ten list again. The Hispanic churches were not those who were being coached – they didn’t need it. They produced the same numbers as they did every year. But of those eight churches I coached, five of them made the top ten – doing better than the Hispanic churches.
Three things come out of this small look at this:
- You gotta do evangelism correctly and that’s where the coaching came in
- You gotta fund evangelism properly and that’s where as the Outreach Director I could give away the right amount of money to support their seminars
- Anglo churches can still grow. It is possible and to grow by more than 2-3 a year
Matthew 28:19–20 (NRSV)
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”