Church Growth Update


Paul Nickerson Coaching Workshop – Reaching New People

A few of us from the church recently took part in a United Church of Christ workshop on church growth, led by Paul Nickerson, a former colleague of Pastor Bob, and a nationally recognized expert in growing churches.

Church growth today is all about connecting with people, building relationships and trust, and then inviting and bringing them to church.
More than 125,000 churches have closed since 1990, most because they didn't respond to cultural changes that require us to invite, pick up and bring new people to church rather than waiting for them to walk through our doors.

We left this 10-hour workshop with a specific 6-month draft plan. We are happy to share the working draft with anyone interested. Here is a summary view of we learned during 10 hours of training:

1) A way that we can all be a part of growing ACC is to "Pray for One." If each person attending church brings God's love to one other person during the week, and then eventually brings that person to church --- our church will grow. Manchester Christian Church has used this method and has seen the resulting growth. We encourage everyone to think of whom they can share God's love with and eventually invite to church.

2) Pastor Bob is leading our church growth initiative. What we learned at the Nickerson workshop, is that people in 2016 mostly aren't going to the church offices therefore instead, today's pastors must go out to them. Pastor Bob has committed to spending 8 hours a week (20 percent of his paid work hours) OUTSIDE the church, in the community, getting to know people. He will be building relationships with servers and customers at his new office locations in local restaurants; and meeting and greeting at youth games and events, local businesses, organization meetings, local events, and anywhere there are people. We ask that you, please support him in this.

3) Expect to see our church members, teams & committees meeting in public places rather than at the church. Making the church more visible to our community is another secret to church growth. The Church Growth team has asked our committees and teams to hold committee events and meetings off-site and visible to the community when appropriate and feasible. Meetings can be held at restaurants or other public places, where it is far more likely that someone you know (or don't know) will stop by the table, and we can introduce them to our church friends. Some places we brainstormed: Applebees, Plaistow Pizza Company, Panera, Heavenly Donuts, Kimball Public Library, Uno's, Early Bird, Atkinson House of Pizza and Roast Beef, Eggies, Beantown, Atkinson Country Club, Casey's Diner.

4) Where else can ACC contribute to the community and be present so non-members can get to know who we are and what we are about? We are asking each of you – our members – and all church leaders to identify community events that any members or committees could participate in. Some ideas we came up with at the Nickerson workshop were Baseball & Softball Opening Day, march or drive in town parades, ask the Fire Department and Police Department for Pastor Bob to be their Chaplain, among many other ideas. PLEASE share with any of the Church Growth team members any other ideas or suggestions on how to get ACC out into the community.

5) Pastoral Care & Prayer Ministry by lay people – you & me. Paul Nickerson recommends that we look at freeing up time for Pastor Bob to do outreach by allowing others to help with pastoral care -- visiting people. Church’s grow when the individual gifts and passions of its members grow too. We’ll be looking at developing a whole team of volunteers involved in this -- meeting the needs of our members and non-members by bringing God's love to more people than Pastor Bob could reach on his own.

6) 1-Year Coaching: ACC has been approved for a grant that will be used to hire Paul Nickerson to coach our team over the next year to help us launch the initiatives in our plan. Paul has a proven track record of success stories from churches much like ours. We look forward to working with Paul and all he has to offer us for his years of experience and knowledge.


Steve Murray, author of “Over the Curve” and Lead Minister for Rock Church Ministries

On Wednesday, May 18th, about 20 or so Church Growth members, and a few other passionate ACC members participated in potluck meeting to hear from a local minister of the growing Rock Ministries, Steve Murray. Steve shared his experience of growing his three ministries and offered up many specific suggestions and tips to help us in our growth journey. Here a few of the key takeaways shared:

Church Structure - Re-visit our current church committee structure. Consider revising our by-laws to decrease the number of committees and increase the number of teams. Members of teams should not be driven by terms or filling specific seat numbers, but more of including people who have a passion for a cause or calling for as long as their willing.

Music – begin to incorporate more modern Christian music, in addition to traditional hymns, to attract the younger generation. Look at adding more and different instruments.

Leadership- Do God’s work by creating disciples. Develop lay people in the church to fulfill their and His purpose of sharing the love of Jesus by mentoring and training people to minister to one another.

Technology – Incorporate modern day technology into our worship services and education areas. This could include projection technology and movie clips as teaching aides.

Vision/Mission/Culture – Develop a vision and outline strategies and ministries that match up to that vision. Here is a mission statement that seems to better reflect our congregation: Love God. Love All People. Make Disciples. Everything we do, the culture we create, and how we interact internally and to the community at-large should reflect this mission.

Pastoral Search – be sure to find a Pastor who is a leader and who believes in and is called to support our Vision, structure, and growth strategies.

Over the next six months, each of the committees will be reviewing much of what we have learned over the past few months. We are planning to hold a leadership retreat to brainstorm and prioritize our next steps.

This is an exciting time for our church. We all are looking forward to the great things God is doing and will be doing through us!

Julianna Hale, Chair
Church Growth team: Malorie Ball, Bill Ball, Katie Burke, Sheana DeBourke, Sue Goodman, Darlene Graczyk, Linda Heminway, Susan Kuhn, Pastor Bob McFarlane, Karen McLain & Nancy Monahan