7 Ways For Churches To Break Through The 200 Attendees Barrier


Here at Vanderbloemen, we’ve had the privilege of working with churches of all sizes, from 45 members to 30,000 members.  We’re passionate about the church and helping church leaders build their teams, no matter the size.

The churches we all hear the most about in the media are usually megachurches, however most churches in America are, in reality, under 200 attendees in size. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with small churches – each and every church is working to further the Kingdom – but we’ve talked with a lot of church leaders, and almost every single one of them wants growth for their church.

It’s not a lack of vision or facilities that keeps churches from growing. Ultimately, God is in control of all church growth as we are faithful to spread His hope, but here are 7 things you can try, prayerfully and strategically, to help your church break through the 200 attendees mark.

1. Increase your volunteer base by 25%.

As your volunteer base grows, your ministries become more effective. Children’s Ministries, especially, are growth engines for the church. If you have a highly effective Children’s Pastor and resource them well, you’ll be amazed by how your Children’s Ministry attracts and retains families in your church.

Related: The Secret Sauce To An Effective #KidMin Volunteer Strategy

2. Don’t ask for volunteers from the pulpit/stage.

The key to recruiting volunteers is to do it personally. Find the people in the lobby that others are naturally drawn to – that is who you want in your volunteer ministry. These connectors will also naturally draw others in to what they are doing. If you don’t already have this role on your church staff, consider hiring a new team member to take responsibility for connections and volunteers.

Related: 3 Ways To Turn Your Attendees Into Volunteers

3. Simplify your ministry.

Some churches make the mistake of adding more and more programs in order to have a broader reach. This can be seductive but is often not productive. Instead of spreading your staff thin with many different new ideas that may not be scalable, stick to doing the basics – worship, teaching, and community – excellently.

Related: 3 Steps To Take Your Church To The Next Level

4. Re-think your sermon approach.

If you are preaching more than 25-30 minutes every sermon, you may want to get some objective feedback from others as to if your teaching seems to be running beyond people’s attention span.  This is not to underplay the vital importance of sound, Biblical teaching, but remember that the Sermon on the Mount was only about 8 to 10 minutes long. Generally speaking, most people have difficultly focusing beyond 25 minutes. Keep your teaching as engaging as you can, and, if possible, see if you can shave a little time off your sermons.

Related: 3 Tips To Help You Preach Better Sermons

5. Be nice to strangers.

Treat your visitors like royalty. I once heard that 90% of churches think that they are welcoming to outsiders, but after sending in “undercover” visitors, only 7% of churches were actually welcoming to visitors. People typically require 4 positive personal interactions to find a place inviting. Make sure you have a staff member delegated to train volunteers in welcoming visitors. Cultivate a church culture of being welcoming.

Related: How To Keep Your Church Attendance Alive This Summer

6. Think of creative ways to reach out.

Think beyond the standard outreach ideas and events. Don’t put flyers on doors, but have a block party, provide food at a nearby place where the needy are, host a concert. People love to connect (and they love free food). Provide opportunities for that, and let the community know you exist in creative and engaging ways.

Related: Seasonal Church Outreach Ideas

7. Don’t pressure people to commit.

Whether you like it or not, if you want to attract people – this is especially true of millennials – don’t pressure people into “doing” or committing. Instead, simply focus on building relationships and being a welcoming, safe place where people can be themselves and learn about Jesus.  

Related: 4 Signs Your Volunteers Are Getting Burned Out (And How To Fix It)