Should You Focus Exclusively on Conversion Growth?

When Brian Jones started the church he pastors some fifteen years ago, he made one promise to God: “I promise we will grow this church through conversion growth only.” Here’s what Brian has to say about this promise; and how they’d tried to live it out at his church: Every church leader I know agrees that transfer growth (one Christian deciding to leave their church to attend yours) is rarely a win for the kingdom. But few take actual steps to prevent it from happening, as if the matter was completely out of our realm of influence. Not quite sure how to make good on my promise to God (and with few models to learn from in this regard), we’ve tried a number of strategic measures over the years to fend off the tide of church transfers:

  • We’ve taken time during our biggest days (Easter, Christmas, etc.) to de-invite Christian visitors from coming back the following Sunday.
  • We continuously remind our people NOT to invite their friends that are already Christians to our church.
  • During our introductory 101 class called “Starting Point” we take time to explain why 80% of the Christians in the room should never come back to our church.
  • When I meet visitors after the service and find out that they’re from a Bible-believing Christian church, I always encourage them to go back to back to their former church.
  • When selecting elders, staff, or volunteer team leaders we always look for those converted from within the ministry of our church first.
  • If a churched visitor attends our church and we find out they have unresolved conflict in a previous church, we deny them membership until they go back, resolve the conflict, and we receive written verification from that church’s leadership.
  • We never advertise our church on the church page in the newspaper, on Christian radio stations, or in the Christian Yellow Pages.
  • Occasionally, for no reason, we instruct our ushers to punch people in the face if they look like they’re visiting from another church.*
  • We don’t design worship services that cater to consumeristic self-interested Christians who “want to be fed.”
  • We don’t allow Christian community groups like the local homeschooler’s association (i.e. groups that gather Christians inter-denominationally from various churches) to ever use our facilities.
  • We never play in a local church softball league.
  • We have poker groups at our church.
  • We offer comedy nights with a mixture of Christian and non-Christian comedians, along with a cash bar.
  • We play non-Christian music in our outdoor speakers as people walk up to the building on Sunday mornings.
  • We preach in-your-face, sin-convicting, gospel-centered, prophetic messages that call people to repent, take up their crosses and suffer for the sake of the kingdom.
But has it worked?  Click here to read more from Brian!