If you haven’t read the first post How to Shrink Your Church in 12 Easy Steps, check that one out before you read these.
Churches everywhere have found “How to Shrink Your Church in 12 Easy Steps” to be tremendously helpful to them as they have moved away from church growth strategies to more practical attempts at scaring everyone away. Many people wrote in and contributed their own “best practices” for shrinking a church, and some of them were so good that they needed to be shared with the rest of the world. We have also added in a few more of our own to be sure all your bases are covered. If you have utilized steps 1-12 of “How to Shrink Your Church,” it may be time for your church to take things to the next level.
Here are 10 more easy steps to be sure your church shrinks.
- Make sure that all regular attenders of your church sit in the back pews, so that any visitors will have to sit near the front of the sanctuary where you can keep an eye on them. Once the visitors are comfortable in their seats, have someone assigned the job of telling them, “You’re sitting in my seat.”
- Spend a lot of time guilting people into helping at church functions. Once they arrive to help, do not give them any guidance or direction as to where they are needed. Standing on the sidelines and watching others do the work is the best way for them to learn how we do things around here. And if not, they’ll just leave, which is what you’re hoping they’ll do anyway.
- At least once during every Sunday worship service, make mention of how many needs the congregation has. Point out the financial deficit on a very regular basis and make impassioned pleas for bigger monetary contributions. Talk about how there are never enough volunteers for your church’s programs. Do not spend any time talking about the blessings your church has to share with the community, or about how you have been blessed. Stick with the negatives.
- When volunteers in your church are working tirelessly and faithfully to meet needs in the church and the community, never thank them or show your appreciation. Ever.
- Remember the “glory days” when the church was full and the Sunday School rooms were overflowing? Don’t only remember those days, make sure you exert all your energy trying to reclaim them by doing everything the exact same way it was done sixty years ago. Even though many people today do not know basic Bible stories or do not have parents teaching them basics of faith at home, insist that all the methods of teaching that worked when you were a kid are the only things that will work now.
- Even though many churches have a higher percentage of people over the age of 65 than any other age group, be sure you ignore anyone who is not under the age of 40. Churches need to stick with trends in an effort to be contemporary. After all, from its Latin roots, the word contemporary hints at what you’re hoping your church will be — temporary.
- When a new person visits your church, immediately assign him or her a job at the upcoming church function. Add all visitors to every email, phone, and mailing list so that they will always know when your church needs more help with fundraising and ministry events.
- Rush right out the door following the closing song and blessing. Whatever you do, do not visit or chat with anyone on your way out. Turn the lights off as quickly as possible, and lock the doors behind you. The church service is to be exactly one hour per week, and if you want to shrink your church, you can’t be bothered with things like fellowship and relationship building.
- That exposed tack strip in the nursery? The mold growing on the bathroom wall? Don’t worry about it. Since you’re hoping no one will stick around, it doesn’t really matter if things in the building function well or are safe.
- When someone at church confides in you, be sure you tell someone else right away. It is most effective if you tell someone who will get on the telephone at home and call all of his or her friends. The sooner the sensitive message gets back to the person who shared it, the better.
There isn’t just one right way to shrink your church, and beyond this second list, there are still plenty of other ways to make sure your church never grows. If, between this list and our first list we have missed something critical, please let us know. When church growth strategies aren’t really what you are after, feel safe and secure knowing that resources for shrinking your church are listed here for your use any time you need them.