Let us be honest.
There… someone said it.
It’s a reality, but the heart behind why you care about it makes the difference. There is not one student pastor out there if they are honest with themselves, when asked if they would want the service to grow… they would say “no”.
So now that is out of the way, let’s talk about some practical ways we can make some moves towards really growing our services. What I have found is that there are a lot of pastors whos services and/or events get into a routine because they happen weekly or events happen monthly. What happens in routine is we turn a blind eye or we don’t notice when things are not working like they used to because, well… it’s routine.
One of the best things we can do is take a good hard look at our services and ask some tough questions about them if we really want to see growth in the future.
So, here are some tough questions to ask about your service/events:
- Is your service/gathering/event worth being invited to?
This is a good question. It’s a tough question. It’s one we need to ask though. If we are asking our students to invite their peers, but they don’t seem to be, have we really thought through this question? We went through a re-do to make sure our service was the best thing we can do. We are focusing a year to nail down our program to make it the best it can be.
Here is the thing. Trust is key. As you begin to make adjustments, your first few months of service and first few events are for your own students to gain trust you can put on a worthwhile event. Once they see that service is worth being invited to, once you gain their trust that you can put on something their friends would be interested in joining, then you will start to see some new faces.
- Is the language that you use, new-person friendly?
Do you use Christian language and not explain it? Would a new student feel “weird” because they have no idea what is happening or what anything means? I feel like most of us because the church is a normal thing, we don’t even notice that we talk a certain “church” way.
Worship/Prayer/Communion/Baptism… are these just words that we say without second-guessing or do we take a sentence or two to explain them a bit so we can keep the new student in mind when they do start showing up? One of the best ways to alienate new students is to make sure they don’t know what is being communicated or expected of them.
For example in our ministry, small groups are a normal part of the program. If you come on a Wednesday, you are in a small group. So if we just dismiss to groups without explaining what they are and why we do them, they could feel confused or lost. But because we take a minute and explain why we do groups and why they are important and where they should go when they are new, it just makes them feel more welcomed and informed.
- Is your service/gathering have the new person in mind when they do show up?
Do you have anything for new people? Do you make them stand up in front of everyone (please don’t)? Do you let them be anonymous? I think just even being prepared for when new students show up means the world to them because they believe we were prepped for them coming… like we were expecting them.
So in asking these questions, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- We need to humble ourselves first. Changing your culture requires a change in the organization. Change is hard for some but as leaders, we need to humble ourselves because when asking some real questions about how we program will deliver some real answers… some of which are hard to hear. So be open-handed.
- Don’t just do things just to do things. Don’t just do things because you think it’s “cool”. Have intentionality behind what you are planning.
- Developing any type of culture takes a while. Don’t change everything this week. This will not go well for you if you cannonball into change.
- This should not be done alone. Invite your volunteer team into it. Let them speak into it and gain some buy-in so when decisions of change come, they will know what is coming and will be likely to back you.
This is just a small step but it’s an important one when it comes to really begin to evaluate why or why not our ministry might be growing.