We think it's pretty safe to say that the last few years in the church have been quite the challenge. While the Bride of Christ has undergone countless challenges since its origin over 2,000 years ago, each new generation seems to present unique hurdles and obstacles.
Somehow, in the midst of them all, Christ’s Bride has consistently and gloriously overcome every single time. It seems that with every pressing challenge comes a unique opportunity to learn resilience. The Book of James begins with a famous passage that demonstrates the purpose of these challenges, or trials, that we will continually face:
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.“
When we face trials, we have an opportunity to rejoice because we can be confident that God is going to produce perseverance within us as individuals and as “the big C” Church as a whole.
With each test comes the building of perseverance, but with this also comes the need for wisdom to know how to guide us amid challenges. Thankfully, this wisdom comes from God when we ask for it! God is exceedingly generous and also gives us access to His wisdom through the Scriptures and those within our very own faith communities.
We want to provide a few words of wisdom when it comes to understanding the challenges in the church and how can we can move forward in strength. Ultimately, we want to teach how to “recession-proof” your church and learn to grow despite the pitfalls, declines, and challenges that may arise.
When a recession happens in the economy, there is absolutely no way to control it. These declines in the market happen outside the scope of our power. Instead of hyper-fixating on the things you can control, it is essential to focus on what you actually can control.
There comes a time when challenges arise that you need to cut costs. You need to be smart about budgeting and cutting unnecessary costs.
In reality, downsizing can be necessary when you take a major financial hit. However, you cannot stay in this space of the “hoarder mentality” and make decisions out of fear. You need to be practical, but you also need to be hopeful.
Operating out of fear was especially prevalent when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020. Many people got stuck in panic mode and some didn’t quite know how to get out. We completely understand why this happened — we have never gone through this type of upheaval in our generation before! However, for the church to persevere, we need to be able to shift our focus in times of crisis. It was necessary to fix our eyes upon Jesus and seek the wisdom He wanted to give us about what to do next.
This is where the mindset must shift from the downside to the upside. Although it seemed impossible that the church could grow during a pandemic, it began to blossom as we began to focus on the upside. We began to see that the digital world offered endless opportunities for growth in the church.
Digital allows us to reach people we could have never possibly reached before!
During this time, the churches that embraced the upside of digital began to grow. Those who fixated on the downside began to decline. Those who began to embrace new growth possibilities began to see the “plentiful harvest” that Jesus speaks of in Matthew 9.
Now that we find ourselves in the middle of 2022, we see the impact digital has had on the growth of the church. It was through focusing on the upside (and having faith that God could work through digital) that helped the church persevere and grow tremendously.
Focusing on the upside enables you to realistically evaluate the possibilities and began to embrace new opportunities. In this process, it is essential to notice the things that are driving growth in your church. While this applied especially during the pandemic, it is worth revisiting even now as your church is back to “business as usual.”
What is it that drives growth in your community? Here are a few examples:
Some of these areas may be more effective than others and it will depend on your particular community.
The question to answer is: which areas are most effective and getting people in your doors? Once you have begun to figure out which strategies work best for your church, you can begin to cut the areas that don’t drive substantial growth.
We need to keep in mind why we want to grow as churches — so we can reach the hurting just as they are, right where they are. We don’t just want to grow for growth’s sake, we want to grow to make an impact on others.
The formula to recession-proof your church is pretty simple: discover your growth drivers and invest your resources in them!
As things have shifted in the church, we are discovering that digital media is among the best growth drivers. This driver includes everything from social media to your website to your video content. This is the area that is extremely important to tap into if you want to reach more people, see more growth, and help your church thrive even in challenging times.
In our blog series “Understanding The 5 Levels Of Digital Engagement” we go into more detail about digital strategy and why engagement is the essential element to promote growth in your church. In addition, our fearless PMF Creative leader, Clint Rogers, shares some of his heart and dives deeper into recession-proofing your church in this video. Check these resources out to learn more!
The church is at a decline in this post-pandemic era. How can you overcome this emergency in your church?
Community is greater than competition every single time. How can you emphasize community in your church?