I was recently consulting with Lee Powell who recently joined the Auxano team. Lee is the founding pastor of CedarCreek.tv, a church he grew past 8,000 in worship attendance over a few decades. Lee knows a little bit about growing a church. Not only has Cedar Creek been considered one of the largest and fastest-growing churches in the country, but it has also been so in Toledo, Ohio (not a giant city in Florida, California or Texas where megachurches tend to sprout up.)
Long ago, the staff at Cedar Creek noticed that people attend church for the first time for one of three reasons. I thought this was a helpful rule of thumb for leadership conversions. In summary, people come to church when something is missing, broken or new.
Something is missing
Through the journey of life, the voice of God whispers, and the Holy Spirit reveals the emptiness of our pursuits apart from Him. People may think about God, Jesus and even your church as they drive by when that haunting empty feeling crops up. Maybe it is a death of someone at work, a long reflective drive where life's deeper questions are pondered, or the surprising lack of meaning after the last big job promotion. How does your church equip believers to engage people who are missing something?
Something is broken
We live in a world of brokenness. Many churches do ministry in areas where that brokenness is deeply hidden, albeit powerfully present. Unraveling marriages, lost jobs, wayward children and haunting addictions all live beneath the radar. Of course they raise their heads when we can't control consequences any longer. Whether people are overtly hurting or trafficking in hidden hurt, how is your church poised to connect with them? Do you have an atmosphere that is conducive to restoration and where it is safe to be "messed up"?
Something is new
New marriages, new babies, new jobs, new locations are the big "kinds of new" that make some people more receptive to the gospel. Faith is awakened, life's longer-term view comes into focus and the prompting to love well or excel in healthy and "well rounded" ways comes to the forefront. These new seasons are easily captured through a unique message series, training opportunities, tools and intentional relationships. What does your church do to leverage the "new zone" that people in your community experience?