Healthy, Vital, Growing Churches: What Works & What Doesn t. Monte Sahlin Ohio Conference February 18, 2012

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1 Healthy, Vital, Growing Churches: What Works & What Doesn t Monte Sahlin Ohio Conference February 18, 2012

2 USA Today March 16, 2011 n Seventh-day Adventist Church is the fastest-growing Christian denomination in the nation. n Growth rate of the North American Division has been between two and 2.5 percent a year for more than a decade n Reactions

3 People in the Local Church Have a Different Take on This n At least once a week, I get an from a pastor or a church member somewhere in North America asking: n Why isn t my local church growing? n What works? What doesn t?

4 Research on Adventist Churches n Data from more than 2,000 local churches collected in the last decade n We look at average churches as well as exceptional churches n We focus on sustained growth, growth over three years or five years

5 How Do You Measure Growth? n Increase in attendance n Increase in active members n Net increase in names on the list n Increase in spiritual vitality n Expansion of impact on the community n Retention of youth from church families

6 Adventist Congregations in America Today Typical Attendance Year Planted 101 to % 51 to % Over 300 5% Under 50 50% 1971 to % Since % Before to % 43%

7 Random Sample of Adventists Churches in the U.S. Over five years Counting people who attend at least once a month Declined 15% No growth or decline 34% Grew 2% a year or more 26% Grew 1% a year 21%

8 Ethnic Churches & Growth n Immigrant churches and African American churches have had significant growth n Hispanic growth has reversed in recent years due to the change in the political climate around immigration n Other immigrant groups continue to have very high growth rates n Many of the immigrants we baptize in North America have a pervious connection with the church n The dropout rate among the second generation is about 90 percent n Growth in African American congregations has slowed to about the same rate as other groups

9 Attitudes of Church Members Very pleased 10% Progress is being made 31% Disappointed 8% Wish for more 48% Less than a third are willing to adopt nontraditional practices on Sabbath in order to connect with new people.

10 Assessment by Pastors: Potential for Growth Great potential 30% No potential 11% Some potential 59%

11 Assessment by Pastors: Leaders Want Church to Grow Not sure or disagree 7% Agree 45% Strongly agree 48%

12 Barriers to Church Growth n 48% Low level of interest in religion n 39% Population is declining n 31% Mobile population/driving distance n 30% Competition with nearby churches n 23% Conflict with work n 20% Conflict with school or sports n 13% Demographic change in neighborhood n 12% Lack of parking n 7% Fear of crime in the neighborhood

13 What Have We Learned? n Community involvement n Strong spiritual focus n Intentional about growing n Positive spirit in the congregation n Activities on Sabbath designed for unchurched people

14 Church Growth & Evangelism 100% 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% Growing churches Declining churches 0% Public evangelism Visitation program Newspaper ads Direct mail Radio-TV spots Entry events

15 Church Growth and Additional Worship Services 50% 45% 40% 35% 30% 25% 20% 15% Fast-growing churches Moderate-growth churches Stable churches Declining churches 10% 5% 0% One worship Two or more worships

16 Church Growth and Teaching Spiritual Practices Give considerable emphasis to... 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% Personal devotions Family worship Dietary restrictions Abstinence from alcohol Abstinence from premarital sex Growing churches Declining churches

17 Church Growth and Pastoral Tenure 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% One pastor in the last ten years Two or three pastors in the last ten years Four or more pastors in the last ten years Growing churches Declining churches

18 Church Growth and Small Groups 40% 35% 30% 25% 20% 15% 10% 5% 0% None Hardly any (1% to 10%) A few (11% to 20%) Some (21% to 40%) Many (over 40%) Growing churches Declining churches

19 Church Growth and Follow-up with New Attenders 45% 40% 35% 30% 25% 20% 15% 10% 5% 0% Contact within a few days Contact within a week or two Contact within a month or two Don't follow-up Have no method to get names Growing churches Declining churches

20 New Paradigm for Church Growth in Adventist Churches Spirituality Community involvement Intention Atmosphere Sabbath events for the nonchurched

21 Ellen White wrote Christ s method alone will give true success in reaching the people. The Savior mingled with men as one who desired their good. He showed His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence. Then He bade them, Follow me. The Ministry of Healing, page 143

22 Christ s Method Mingle present, involved, observing Show demonstrate or act out Minister service, caring, compassion win their confidence then ask them to follow Jesus be a disciple, learn, grow study the Bible, pray, share

23 Christ s Method Community assessment Community visibility Community service Friendship Evangelism Discipleship Program

24 Mount Dora Church Orlando

25 Mount Dora, Florida n Outer suburb of Orlando middle class n 630 members started in the 1980s n Growing at about 5% a year n Bought a supermarket building to operate a community services center in it n Maintains a street ministry for the homeless and unemployed n Operates a day care center and school n Grace-oriented approach and contemporary worship

26 Aldergrove Church, Langley, British Columbia

27 Aldergrove Church, BC n Located in Langley, a suburb of Vancouver n In 1963 had 40 members, has 636 today n Annual growth rate of 12% in the last seven years & attendance grew 11% annually n Operates AOK Ministries, including daily hot breakfast for low-income children, oil changes for single mothers, CHIP program, Computer Training School n Annual dramatic musicals at Easter and Christmas; Police Appreciation Day, Firefighters Appreciation Day, Extreme Home Repair, Christmas Child Shoebox Campaign n Annual charity golf tournament raises $80,000

28 New Hope Church Suburbs of Baltimore

29 New Hope Church, Baltimore n In the suburbs between Baltimore and Washington DC n 733 members with an annual growth rate double that of the NAD over the last ten years n Sharing Our Strength ministry supports local food pantry and projects in Haiti and Mozambique; raises over $250,000 a year n Large youth and children s ministries n Grace-oriented approach, contemporary worship style, very multicultural congregation

30 Berean Church, Atlanta

31 Berean Church, Atlanta n Urban, African-American congregation n Grew from 837 members in 1963 to 4,100 members today 7% annual growth rate sustained over nearly 50 years n Sponsors a community action agency that feeds the hungry, provides job training and is developing community clinics Anger management class, Breast cancer support group, MS support group n Hosts the Breath of Life television ministry n Strong youth and children s ministries; also sponsors a school n Yearly public evangelism campaign

32 Walk of Faith Fellowship, Cleveland

33 Walk of Faith Fellowship, Cleveland n Urban, young adults, multicultural n Church plant started in 1997 and had an average attendance of 45 by the end of the first year n By 2008 less than 10 members had any involvement in mission to the community; started a process of change n Now they meet in a community center which provides a daily hot meal, a weekly food pantry and regular adult education and family life seminars n Won the Innovative Program of the Year award from the Cleveland Regional Food Bank and the Innovation of the Year award from Kettering Health Network n 60 members, 100 active participants n Sabbath worship followed by a community meal and then Bible study groups

34 How to Get Your Church Growing n Do not simply copy other churches. n Spend a lot of time in prayer. n Do careful research and assessment. n Pull together a small task force. n Spend quality time brain-storming. n Experiment and learn. n Keep good documentation. n Meet regularly to pray and debrief.

35 For Questions n Monte Sahlin

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