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Growing Your Church Through Worship

Net ResultsThe theme for this Net Results issue is "How to Grow a Church: Best Practices." The "best practice" for church growth in my experience is quality worship. In fact, worship brought my church back from the dead. When I arrived at my current pastorate nine years ago, the congregation had been in a forty-year decline. However, by prioritizing worship, we reversed that trend. In spite of our location in a small town, we have welcomed over a thousand new members and more than doubled in attendance. Of course, we have also lost lots of folks to moves, deaths, and inactivity. But our overall membership and attendance have significantly increased. We're considering launching a third service (Saturday evening) early next year.

Many factors contributed to our worship renewal at Lebanon First. Details can be found in my article, "How a Two-Hundred-Year-Old, Declining, Mainline Church Got Its Groove Back." However, the most helpful strategy we've implemented is planning and promoting several compelling worship series per year. When we do, attendance spikes, and numerous guests visit our services. Over time that cycle has resulted in significant growth. To illustrate this process, I'll tell you about the worship series we offered in January and February of this year called Dead Man Walking: How a Burned-Out Prophet Came Back to Life.

The "Dead Man Walking" series, based on the Elijah story in 1 Kings 19, came at the end of what Time Magazine called "The Decade from Hell." It began with 9-11, ended with the Great Recession, and had plenty of struggles in between. Therefore, most people could relate to the story of Elijah's sitting in the wilderness, stressed out and burned out, ready to throw in the towel. Thankfully, Elijah recovered. If you follow the 1 Kings 19 story carefully, you see at least six steps in Elijah's journey toward wholeness:

  • Elijah took some time off (vv. 3-4, 8).
  • Elijah took care of his body (vv. 5-8).
  • Elijah found strength from God (vv. 9, 11).
  • Elijah got help from others (vv. 16, 21).
  • Elijah adjusted his attitude (vv. 14, 18).
  • Elijah returned to service (vv. 15, 19).

For seven weeks our church explored Elijah's engaging story of renewal. Our congregation was encouraged, many new guests visited, and several joined. Through these kinds of ongoing worship events, our church has grown both numerically and spiritually.

Read the opening sermon from the Dead Man Walking series, or order the entire series by visiting our online store.