Written by Jay Dennis
Regardless of the size of your student ministry, location, or financial resources, your church has great growth potential. Here are 20 church growth principles to implement for maximum growth in your student ministry and church.
1. Make sure your commitment to daily prayer is greater than the enemy’s desire to prevent you from growing.
That means constantly staying on your face before God and asking him for His anointing upon your life, your preaching, and your ministry.
2. Work harder and smarter than anyone else.
Often people will ask me, “What is the secret of your growing church?” When asked that question I say, “There are two secrets: prayer and hard work.”
3. Constantly demonstrate your love for people.
Tell them. Show them. Make it part of who you are. Use any means to communicate that you love them. It’s amazing how love attracts. Be a people person no matter what your personality type.
4. Pray with people, not just for them.
Take the time to pray with individuals and groups of people. As you do, incorporate your vision – what you would like to see accomplished – as part of a prayer list.
5. Contact people by visiting, calling, writing, and emailing.
Let people know that you care about them and what is going on in their lives. Be known as a church that demonstrates great grace.
6. Concentrate more on what you are “for” rather than what you are “against.”
I’m not suggesting that we shouldn’t be against certain things. We should. However, make sure that what you are for is communicated more than what you are against. Remember, people need hope, not a dressing down or guilt heaped upon them. Let the Holy Spirit convict, and don’t try to play His role.
7. Spend the necessary time preparing fresh, relevant Bible-centered, life-application messages.
I plan to neglect other things for that which God has primarily called me to do. That means calls, appointments, and emails simply will have to take a back seat. Although people trying to reach you may not appreciate it at the time, the difference will be seen when you deliver your message.
8. Prepare music that will exalt Christ, stir the soul, and appeal to the students you are attempting to reach.
Whatever style God leads you to adopt, do it with excellence. Don’t make it your goal to meet everyone’s tastes. Make it your goal to have authentic worship that pleases God and engages people.
9. Make your facilities the best they can be with the resources you have been given.
Clean costs very little. Paint costs very little. Enlist someone to come through and determine what needs to be done to improve appearances.
10. Be intentionally and unapologetically evangelistic.
Be a soul winner. You as the leader and model will lead your ministry team to reach student. Be clear in your presentation of the gospel and give multiple opportunities for people to respond to the gospel.
11. Learn to laugh, celebrate, and have joy in the church.
It’s okay for a church to have some fun. Learn to lighten up a little. People are attracted to happy places. I’m not suggesting a circus atmosphere. I am suggesting an atmosphere of joy.
12. Confront issues lovingly, yet immediately.
The longer you wait to deal with issues the worse they will become. It’s difficult initially, but it sure beats having to deal with a bigger problem later on.
13. Always have a God-sized project.
It helps focus people on something bigger than they are that only God could do. This builds faith among the people and brings them together. The church can never function as if it has arrived.
14. Have faith that if you will do what you can do, God will do what only He can do.
Remember Matthew 17:20. Write down your mountains and take 45 days to pray that God will move them.
15. Mentor young leadership.
Take the time to meet with, disciple, pour yourself into, and have off leadership to student leaders. Give them the freedom to make mistakes, and love them through those mistakes.
16. Make yourself accountable and let people know it.
Have an accountability partner or group. It not only helps you stay on track; it will encourage those in your ministry to know that you have put yourself under constant scrutiny. Don’t think you are too strong to fall prey to Satan’s attacks.
17. Prioritize your programs and make reaching students your top priority.
Always communicate the importance of student ministry. Make sure you continually recruit new leaders with a similar passion.
18. Immediately admit with humility when you have made a mistake as a leader.
Transparency is a wonderful asset. Admitting your mistakes will draw you closer to your people.
19. Find ways to practically demonstrate the love of God in your community.
Discover needs in your community that on one else is addressing. Start a ministry that will get people involved who are not members of your church. There is an emerging atmosphere of volunteerism especially among students and young adults.
20. Go after the men.
More churches already have an established women’s ministry, but men must step up to the plate of spiritual leadership. Intentionally develop programs to gain men’s attention. Engage fathers in the student ministry. Equip them to parent their teenage sons and daughters. Constantly look for ways to involve men in ministry.
These twenty ideas are the planting and watering part of church growth. These are the things we can go as we remember that it is God who is causing the growth” (See 1 Cor. 3:6). Work smarter and harder, but trust God to touch people’s lives and draw them to Himself. You are a vessel that He works through to build His church and His Kingdom.
Jay Dennis is the author of The Prayer Experiment and Taming Your Private Thoughts. He also coauthored Dangerous Intersections: Eleven Crucial Crossroads Facing the Church in America.