But in growing churches, both the pastors and the congregations have a huge impact on the growth of the church. The reality is, there's quite a lot that pastors and congregations can do to prevent churches from growing.
While only God can grow churches, pastors have a tremendous impact on whether a congregation grows or not.
Let's get one thing straight. Pastors cannot grow churches. Just because a church has a new pastor, the pastor on his or her own will not lead to the growth of a church.
No one in the Lakewood community is going to start coming to church because James Kim is the pastor of the Little Church on the Prairie. We can post signs up all over town, send letters with my picture all over the city saying "James Kim is the Pastor of the Little Church on the Prairie!!!"
The reality is, the citizens of Lakewood don't give a rip that I'm the pastor at the Little Church on the Prairie.
Unless the pastor of your church has a name like Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, Chuck Swindoll, etc., it won't matter who the pastor is. People aren't going to start going to a church because of the person who is preaching there.
However, having said that, when people do come to church, how pastors preach absolutely matters whether a church grows or not.
No preacher can preach awesome sermons every time. However, if the pastor's sermon on a regular basis tanks, doesn't make a connection with the people listening, is boring, etc., it absolutely impacts the growth of the church.
One of my main responsibilities as the pastor is to preach God's truth and grace in a way that connects with people and their lives. Pastors have to do that.
Excellent preaching absolutely matters. That's the pastor's responsibility.
Then how do people come to church? Why do visitors come?
The primary way in which people will come to your church is through personal invitations from members who they respect and like - personal invitation, people who are respected and like. All those things are absolutely key in why visitors come to church.
1. Personal invitation - most people are not likely to show up to church knowing no one. Most people need a personal nudge, an invitation. People are most likely to go to church with someone they know and like.
2. Invitations from people they respect and like. Listen, if the invitation is being made by someone the entire office or the entire block knows to be a jerk, the last place anyone wants to be is in a church with a person like that. This is why our personal life absolutely matters in our witness to Jesus Christ. Our daily living either confirms the reality of the grace and love of Jesus Christ or it confirms why people ought to stay away from God.
Lastly, in growing churches you will find excellent preaching and worship where members are regularly inviting people to experience the joy of Christ, and where the actual coming to church experience is joy-filled and meaningful.
This joy-filled and meaningful church experience is the result of a combination of what the pastors are doing and what the congregation is doing. They are all part of a team that is demonstrating in their ways the love Christ. All are necessary.
Only God grows churches. And pastors and congregations play a huge role in how a visitor experiences the love of God through a particular congregation so that they can move from being a visitor to a committed follower of Jesus Christ.