033 - 4 Habits of Growing Churches - Leaders.Church


033 – 4 Habits of Growing Churches

What’s in this Episode?

Did you know there are certain things churches can do that will almost guarantee their ability to reach more people? The question is, what are those things? Well, stay tuned, because in this episode, we’re going to share four habits of growing churches that will help you reach more people and see greater influence in your community.

Read the Transcript

Jonathan Hardy 0:21
So I had the privilege of working on staff at two churches, and both of these churches, there were things that they did, that I saw and observed that made me say, these are things that all churches that want to continue to reach people and grow need to do. Now, there’s a million things you probably could come up with. I mean, you could count all kinds of tips and tactics, and we’re gonna be talking about a lot of those throughout the podcast. But there are certain things that they do or that these churches did that I thought, you know what, this is something that everyone needs to do. And so I’m going to talk to you guys today we’re both going to talk a little bit about some of these habits of growing churches, and specifically, we’re going to look at four habits of growing churches today. Again, this is not an exhaustive list. But this is a list of things that for sure, do help churches reach more people. And so if you’re leading a church, or you’re involved in the church in some capacity, your heart, I’m assuming is to reach more people. And so hopefully you take these to heart and they will be helpful for you. So Dick why don’t you jump us off and get started here.

Dick Hardy 1:21
You bet. You bet. And I might note that those two churches specifically were very much growing churches. The things that they were doing, were definitely contributing.

Habit #1: The Pastor Must Be Focused on the Next Generation

Dick Hardy 1:31
So, let’s talk about the first one here. The very first habit of a growing church is for the pastor to be focused on the next generation. Now I’m talking about that as the guy with gray hair here. So whether you’re his age, that from my standpoint, is the next generation or your… did I say that right? My age, and he is the next generation, or you’re his age, and there’s somebody younger, you’ve got to focus younger. Here’s one of the things I watch happen with pastors as they get older, when they’re younger, his age and younger, they’re hiring guys and gals in their 20s, and 30s. And they’re focused on those families in their 20s and 30s. As they move into their 40s and 50s, and 60s, the age that they start to focus on gets older. And when that happens, you’re going to slow growth. Here’s the deal. People under age 40 are the people who most likely make life change. They move more frequently. They’re way more mobile than 50 and 60 year olds, they make life changes for Jesus more frequently. Now, I’m not saying we’re going to kick grandma to the curb here. But you’ve got to focus on where people are going to be at spiritually and in their life’s journey. And I’m just telling you, people under age 40 is where that’s happening. Pastors who focus there are going to be positioned, their churches are going to be positioned to grow.

Jonathan Hardy 3:00
Well and I would mention that on reaching these young families that I think, I don’t have the stat in front of me, but I want to say something like 85% of people who follow God were exposed to or made a decision in some capacity to follow God between the ages of 4 and 14. 4 – 14 window. So it’s like, you know, you have to be reaching out. Okay, so let me ask you though, well, then what do you say to people that are like, “well, what about the older generations the people that are your age? How does the church work? We don’t just ignore them?”

Dick Hardy 3:28
No, but here’s the deal. If you focus on older people, fact of life, you will only get older people.

Jonathan Hardy 3:38
Okay. Why?

Dick Hardy 3:39
Because young will not come to old. Come on this sounds hard, but I’m the old guy saying this, but it is true. You know, I stood in the lobby of of Summit Park Church here about a year ago with a gal my age and we said, “hey, look at this. Well, how come we love being here?” Well, we love being here, because our kids are here, our grandkids are here, grubby little kids are running around, grabbing the doughnuts and everything else, it’s energized. For older people that’s energized. Flip it and say, okay, you guys come to a church that’s all for us. So it’s pretty traditional. And how will they view it? You’ll view it that this is a great church for mom and dad, but my kids aren’t going. So I’m just telling you, if you’ll focus young, you’ll get young and old. So you’re not kicking old people to the curb, you’re actually going to get older people by having younger people.

Jonathan Hardy 4:29
Well, I think there’s something to be said for the fact that as a person that has gray hair, you’ve been a younger person before so you can identify, you can relate, you know what that was like, in that time. As a person who’s in my 30s right now, I don’t know what it’s like to be sixty. I mean, I look at you as my father, but I’ve never been there, haven’t had that experience. And so naturally, I like well, you know, doesn’t feel like that’s something I want to be a part of. So but the reverse is true.

Dick Hardy 4:59
Yeah. Exactly, exactly.

Jonathan Hardy 5:01
All right, well, we probably can do a whole episode on that. We probably should do another podcast on it!

Dick Hardy 5:04
That’s right, we really should! Okay, what’s the second one?

Habit #2: Have a Kids Pre-Registration Process in Place

Jonathan Hardy 5:06
Okay. So the second thing, completely different, is that a church has a kids pre-registration process in place. This is a fact, for growing churches, is they are prepared for the people that God is going to bring to them. And one of the ways that we can be preparing for people is to do things like pre-registration, where people can come, because as you know, people are checking out the church online before they’re coming to the church in most cases. And so if we have things that are preparing them, hey, you can register your kids ahead of time. And it just helps with the security process. And that’s one of the things we started doing at Summit Park very early on, and people would do it. And it’s just helpful. And it’s a way for us to say hey, we’re expecting you, and we’re looking forward for you to come. And it’s very, very helpful.

Dick Hardy 5:52
Give a little flesh to what does that process look like for the pastor who’s not as familiar with kids pre-registration.

Jonathan Hardy 5:57
Great question. So basically what that means is, on your website, you’ve got a spot where you know, if you’re new or you’re coming to, you know, you complain about your visit to our church or something like that, you’ve got a place where they can, maybe a little webform, where they put their contact info, the name of the kid, age of the kid, allergies, you know, yada, yada. And so then that way that info is submitted, it’s already in the system, or you somehow have it so that way you come on Sunday morning, or whenever you’ve got your church service coming up, you’re prepared for it, and you’ve got their info already, you can get them in the system. So that way, you’re not killing a bunch of time, when they show up on Sunday filling out forms. They’re five minutes late already and now they’re 15 minutes later, so they missed the entire first half of the service.

Dick Hardy 6:40
And let me tell you what this does. This says to the guest, they’re thinking about me. I mean, because my kids are important to me. And so the fact that they’re helping, they’re thinking about my experience is huge to a guest and that’s exactly what you want to communicate.

Jonathan Hardy 6:57
Absolutely. So okay, number three.

Habit #3: Prioritize Getting Contact Information

Dick Hardy 6:59
Number three. Prioritize getting contact information. This is an age old issue. I mean, how many times have we sat there service and the guy or gal gets up there. So okay, we got the guest card here, if you could grab the guest card and the seat back in front of you and you can fill it out. And I don’t know how many pastors have told me, well, we can never get the information, people won’t fill out a card, particularly people your age or younger, they just want you know, the privacy issues and so on and so on. So I’m not saying it’s an easy thing, but I’m telling you, you’ve got to prioritize it. And then you’ve got to talk to people about what you’re going to do with their information. I remember this one pastor I watched, I think it was yours. I think, Pastor Scott one time said, now listen, we’re not going to be stalking you, you know, and he’s having some fun, but we want to build relationship with you. And so in order to do that, you know, we got to be able to contact you. I think, Ryan Wakefield, I think it was the one who use the illustration. When, from a guy standpoint, when you meet this, you see this girl, then you meet this girl and you want talk to this girl and you’re back in the dating mode and you want to be able to talk to her again, what do you have to do? You’ve got to get her contact information. If you don’t get her contact information, let me tell you something, that relationship is going no place. And that’s true in the church as well. So you’ve got to have ways, creative ways to say that to people. And also in this day and age, you use your digital capabilities, to gather information. Jonathan talked about the kids pre-registration. You’re gathering information. One church that I’m very familiar with, their primary place that they get contact information is with the kids check in, because parents are coming in there, they’re giving all their information. So anyway, the point is, if you’ll do this and be creative with it, you’ll be able to get more and more information. Therefore, you’ll be able to extend and build relationship with your guests.

Habit #4: Consistently Capture and Share Photography of Your People

Jonathan Hardy 8:54
Yeah, very good. Okay. Fourth thing is to consistently capture and share photography of your people. So this is a very important thing to do, is highlighting your people. And there’s all kinds of benefits to this I mean from the standpoint of like sharing a story about what God’s doing in one of the family’s lives or just having stuff on the church’s website so that way when people go to the website, they look at it and say, oh, wow, okay, I can relate to these people. It’s not just stock photography, because it looks like stock. When you buy stock photography, you put that up on your website, it just looks like stock photography. And so, you want to get photographers recruit people, this could be a volunteer ministry. In fact, my wife Ashley, she’s a part of our photography team here at Summit Park, because she likes to do it. She’s been learning photography, it’s something of interest to her, and it’s a way for us to be able to help reach people, because they are seeing highlights of what’s happening in the church. And it’s a way to reach out. Were you going to say something?

Dick Hardy 9:54
Well, I was just gonna say, did I have that look?

Jonathan Hardy 9:57
You had that look!

Dick Hardy 9:58
You know, there are ways that you want to protect yourself legally with this. I don’t know what you guys do there at Summit Park, but people are either signing off forms, or they’ll have statements on the wall that said, “by you coming into this space, you’re consenting to have your picture taken.” So if anybody’s worried about oh we’re taking pictures of kids where you want to cover all your bases on that, but it can be done and it needs to be done.

Jonathan Hardy 10:23
Yeah. And you know, you’d have to probably even talk with an attorney, if you’ve got someone in the church or whatever to figure out what’s the best way to do that. In fact, we actually talk more about these, what I would call, ways to market the church in Episode 37. And so that’s coming up here. And I want to make sure that you check that out of four ways that we’re going to talk about how to market the church, and this photography thing kind of plays into that. And so that’s why I wanted to mention that here. But Dick why don’t you give us a quick recap.


Dick Hardy 10:47
You bet. Okay, here are the four things we talked about in terms of the habits of growing churches, and again, remember, this is not an exhaustive list, but here are four to get you started, that the pastor is focused on Gen Z, millennials and young families. I don’t think we emphasize that strong enough, but the pastor has to be focused on it, I don’t care if you’re his age, my age older, younger, the pastor has to be focused on that. Number two, the church has kids a pre-registration process in place. Number three, the church prioritizes getting contact information. And number four, the church consistently captures and shares photography of their people.

Dick Hardy 11:27
And so I hope you find those four things helpful today. You know, one of the things that Jonathan and I are regularly working to help you with and that is to help you grow. You know, we put this podcast together to talk about topics relative to habits for a growing church, but it all starts with you. And one of the things we encourage you to do is take advantage of the Four Secrets Masterclass that Jonathan put together here recently. We’ve had a lot of great feedback on it. Just go to leaders.church/secrets and you can get signed up for that free masterclass. It’s about, how long is it?

Jonathan Hardy 12:06
Just under an hour.

Dick Hardy 12:08
Just under an hour long, and it’s going to be extremely high value to help you as a leader because as you get better, the church can get better. So we really thank you for being with us. Thank you for watching or listening today. And we encourage you to whatever podcast platform you’re on that you subscribe, this helps us and on YouTube, subscribe to that as well. And you’ll be continually getting updates as to when new content is coming out. You know and rate and review us on Apple podcasts if you would.

Dick Hardy 12:37
That’s a great help to us, helps us spread the word that I’m going to give you, a we got a review from ASRTEX. “Dick and Jonathan know the score.” Man I like this guy here. “Dick and Jonathan have their finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the local church and the experience to help your church.” Well, that was a very kind review, but if you would do that kind of thing, it just helps spread the word. So anything else?

Jonathan Hardy 13:03
No, that’s great.

Dick Hardy 13:04
We’re good to go?

Jonathan Hardy 13:04

Dick Hardy 13:04
Thanks for watching and listening today. Make it a great one, and be blessed.

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