Connection: The Key to Church Growth

by | Apr 27, 2021 | Church Health, Church Revitalization, Small Church / Rural Church

I’ve been thinking a lot about connections lately. I haven’t really made up my mind completely, but I know they’re important. Maybe more important than I ever took the time to fully realize.

Possibly more important than just about anything else when it comes to people visiting the church, and staying for a long time.

If at any time during this post, it seems that my thoughts are wondering, it’s probably because they are. I feel like over the past year I have all these thoughts and ideas running around in my mind, in various directions, and it’s difficult to get them to line up exactly how I want.

Perhaps, that’s why I stopped blogging, or perhaps I’ve just been lazy. Either way, let’s get back to the subject at hand.


What are they?

They’re the glue that holds things together.

Smarty pants church experts use a different word to describe this, they use the word ENGAGEMENT.

It’s no longer about church attendance, it’s about church engagement. If you want to see your church grow, you need to get your people more engaged in the mission.

What they really mean is people need to build relationships, and it certainly helps if those relationships are built while they’re serving or in a small group.


Relationships = Connections


The more friends people have at the church, the more likely they are to come back and keep coming back consistently.

This is why churches that have older congregations have a hard time keeping young families that visit the church. If they can’t find a friend within that first couple of weeks, they’re probably not going to stay long.

The sad reality is that it doesn’t matter how good your preaching is, or your music, or even your kids ministry, if your church isn’t a place where connections happen, you’re going to have a very hard time keeping people.

And to really see church growth, it has to be the right connections.

Because here’s the thing, if you have new people who connect with church folks who are only showing up to your church once or twice a month and who don’t serve or really get involved, then that connection hurts more than it helps.

Because you become the average of your five closest connections.

So, we have to be intentional about making sure new people connect with the right people in our churches.

How do we do that?

Here’s what I’m working on, and by no means is it a finished idea or even a complete thought.

It’s just a start, but we have to start somewhere.

I’ve begun assigning a level to each person in my church. They don’t know I’m doing this, and don’t you dare tell them. But, I have a spreadsheet with names and the level they are at.

I assign them a level 1-5.

Level One

This person is a new guest, or shows up to church once a month or less. They have little to no connections, and they’re not engaged in any way.

Level Two

This person shows up to church once or twice a month, has less than 2 connections, and they’re not engaged in any way.

Level Three

This person shows up to church at least twice a month, has 2-3 connections, and has recently started serving, giving, or attending a small group.

Level Four

This person shows up to church 3-4 times a month, has 3-4 connections, and has been actively serving, giving, and/or attending a small group.

Level Five

This person shows up to church 3-4 times a month, has 5+ connections, and has been actively serving, giving, and attending groups for years.

I believe the secret to healthy church growth is getting my level one and two people to turn into level three and four people, and to grow my level three and four people into level five people.

Does that make sense?

Some might call that discipleship, but others would probably argue that it’s not. I don’t care what we call it, I just want the right connections to happen so people grow in their walk with Christ.

That means the key to making this idea work, is I need to get my level fours and fives to buy into connecting with my ones, twos, and threes.

If I can get that to happen, I think our church will grow like crazy.

Wish me luck.

P.S. I love sharing my thoughts and connecting with other pastors. The main place I’m doing that right now is through the 95Network Membership.

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Travis Stephens

Travis is a husband, father, and executive pastor of a small-town church that went big. He has a passion for helping small-town churches and pastors. His writing focuses on helping churches and ministry leaders take steps to grow themselves and the churches they serve.

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