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Top Secret

the secret to church growth

by Chad Kivette


Find out more about the ministry of Free Will Baptist Home Missions at



Sharing the Secret Formula.…or Not

What is the secret? I could not credit church-wide visitation, mass mailings, or Operation Saturation. So, why do visitors keep coming without a designated church-wide visitation program?

Our church in Grand Junction, Colorado, is unique when it comes to witnessing. The church has claimed the motto, “Where people with a past have a future.” Our people have embraced this slogan, and they apply it to everyday life. Because of the radical change in their lives, others want to know the source of the change. Their personal transformation opens numerous doors to share what Christ has done for them.

From the moment they accept Christ, we teach them that Christians are witnesses to the life-changing power of the gospel. We witness because we love God. Our strategy is to be soul winners every hour, every minute, and every second of every day. Outreach is not limited to one night a week.

In the past, I believed new Christians needed to mature before they assume active leadership roles in the church. I have found, however, that it is absolutely essential to put new Christians to work immediately and direct their enthusiasm to the Lord’s work.


A Coaching Comparison

Coaching basketball is much like pastoring a church. Both pastors and coaches need to prepare their teams for the big game in three areas. First, any team needs ample practice. A good coach hones the skills that create better players. Pastors do this at church by giving members opportunities to practice their skills. It is not necessary for church members to have all the answers, sing the perfect song, or speak with eloquence. New converts are learning, and they need opportunities to practice the new skills they have been taught.


Top Secret 2

Second, pastors and coaches are both motivators. Have you ever seen a mediocre team play above their ability because of an exciting pep talk by the coach? Pastors should do the same thing. They should build excitement within the congregation and motivate them to win others to Christ.

Third, both pastors and coaches need a game plan. A successful coach has a clear strategy to win the game. The same is true of a pastor. He has to develop and share a vision for the church. If people think a church is going nowhere, that is exactly where it will arrive.


Constructive Creativity

It is also helpful to give people a reason to want to be in church. Four times a year, we try to have a special-event Sunday. In February, we enjoy 50s Day. Everyone comes in poodle skirts and leather coats, and we serve hamburgers and milkshakes after the service.

In May, as the weather turns warm, we promote a Hawaiian luau. Everyone wears Hawaiian shirts; we play limbo and throw balls at the dunk tank. In August, we sponsor a Fiesta Sunday, complete with sombreros and Mexican food. In November, the cowhands turn out for Western Day. We try to “round up” as many prospects as we can.

Last year, the church promoted an outdoor revival, and the attendance doubled that of the previous indoor revival. Are the events themselves the secret? Absolutely not! They are simply a means to help new people connect with a congregation anxious to reach them with the gospel. It is a good reminder, however, that serving God does not have to be mundane, boring, or routine.
Consider your church. Do people in your community find your church appealing? Or have you fallen into a rut, planning the same stuff year after year? Think about what the people in your area like to do, and plan a big day around that event or activity.

In Grand Junction, we throw a Super Bowl party. I know that many pastors feel Super Bowl parties compromise the Sunday evening service. But is it more important to reach the guy who comes to the Super Bowl party with his friends from church or to hold a regular service that reaches no one? Many people are afraid to deviate from tradition in order to reach people, and many churches are dying for the sake of those traditions.

The priority of Christianity is and always has been salvation by grace through faith in Christ. Perhaps it’s time to bring some constructive creativity to your church! Shuffle your schedule of services, wear a sombrero, put on a poodle skirt (ladies), eat a goldfish, swallow an opossum—do whatever is necessary to reach that one person who needs Christ. Leading someone to the throne of grace will put pep in your step and a song in your heart!

About the Writer: Home Missionary Chad Kivette pastors Westgate FWB Church in Grand Junction, CO. Learn more about his church at


©2008 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists