This is part of a series of interviews with pastors of churches whose attendance has grown 20% or more in 5 years. We hope this series will be a resource of ideas to help increase worship attendance at your church.
Covenant has seen significant growth over the last 13 years and more specifically the last 6 years. Engaging change to reach people of all ages for Christ has been critical. Over the past 13 years as senior pastor our church has grown in a number of ways. It has been a remarkable experience!
The past six years we have seen significant increase in reaching people for Christ and His kingdom. We are seeing 25-40 year olds visit and connect with our church. Our average age is 35 to early 40’s!
We have two strong significant age groupings: 25-45 and over 50. These are large segments in our church. So we are experiencing the birth of numbers of children and transitioning with the Baby Boom generation.
Our location is in West Dothan. This is a vibrant area with literally thousands of vehicles that pass by Covenant each day. People can identify our name and location in this city! We believe that is a good thing.
We offer great worship opportunities through traditional and non-traditional experiences. This is a distinctive mark in our area. We have great churches in this community from all denominations, including our own. Many churches are experiencing great success in offering one way of doing church. We are offering choices and have found that to be a positive outreach tool for Covenant.
Our children’s and student ministry is top notch! We offer choices on Sunday morning and evening for both age groups. We offer anything from Kids and Student Worship experiences to small group encounters. This includes pre-school opportunities as well. Wednesday nights center around music for kids and bible study for 9-12th grades. Our 5th and 6th grade ministry, Tweenagers, is about getting to know each other because we have 9 – 11 different schools represented.
Our music ministry is outstanding! You can participate through instrumentals, choirs, ensembles, visuals, technology and lighting, etc. Our non-traditional worship teams have around 30 instrumentalists and vocalists who volunteer their time and resources, not counting all the technical teams involved. These choices offer many ways to participate and connect.
We are striving to make our first impression a positive one. Our parking attendants, greeters as you enter the facilities, ushers, guest welcome area, guest bags, greeting from the pastors, and etc. creates a welcoming spirit.
Coffee With The Pastor (an idea we gathered from Church of the Resurrection) is a four week journey of conversation and expectation of what it means to follow Jesus at Covenant. I attend 3 of the 4 classes and have found this a wonderful way to connect with newcomers. Our church has grown from 750 members 13 years ago to 2000 members! Our worship attendance has moved from 350 to over 1100.
Missions is a pivotal part of who we are today. We offer global experiences, national and local. We have more people signed up for missions than any other area in the church. It is difficult to place them all due to the large sign up. It is extraordinary!
We are constantly looking at changes needed to be made to reach people for Christ. Our conversations about the future, based on cultural trends of non-commitment and the busy-ness of people’s lives, challenge us as a body of believers to look beyond what is comfortable to what is possible for reaching the broken and lost.
I have started a Leadership Development ministry for Covenant. The reason is over the past few years we have constantly asked for volunteers rather than leadership. This was a mistake. We need leaders in place who embrace the mission and ministry of the church who will lead groups and take part in the transformation of Covenant. The first group consists of 33 people! We started in the fall and will complete our Leadership training in March 2011. Each leader is expected to lead a group with our children’s ministry, student ministry or adult ministry. They have agreed to do so! I believe this will shape our future with great promise as Christ’s servants in this community. I already have people asking about participating next year!
We are becoming technology relevant. We offer live stream on Sundays, blogs, facebook , twitter updates, e-blasts, group texting, etc. Our website is updated and is utilized by many guests and members. People visit Covenant because they first went to the website to check us out! We offer a kiosk in our lobby because many people don’t bring checks anymore or carry cash…they bring debit cards. So, this has increased our financial capabilities and resources. EFT giving is well received, too.
Covenant is not a church satisfied with the status quo. We are constantly looking at creative ways to reach people for Christ. Due to the busy-ness of people’s lives, we have simplified our serving ministries. We have moved our ministries from over 200 opportunities to 90 places of serving! Simplicity is the way to go and we will continue to look at ways for the greatest impact, with less “stuff.”
We offer our facilities for a variety of events and experiences that enhance our mission. This creates a sense of welcome and openness to others. People from the community are in and out of this facility each week and we see this as an opportunity to make Christ known!
One interesting statistic we are seeing in our culture: We have 1700 different people attend worship monthly and we have around 1100 weekly. Monthly participation numbers seem healthy, but weekly participation becomes a greater concern. Our percentages are way above the national trend and we give thanks for that! But, we are not satisfied with status quo. Our desire for the future is discipleship and missions! Engaging people where they are and taking them deeper is a priority for us. We have many new believers in our church and many who have been away for some time, and now are returning! Amazing!
Covenant is only 31 years of age as a church community. We believe the future is bright and hopeful as we reach out to so many who need Christ and the church. There are more changes to come for us as a church. Satellite campuses and additional worship services are part of our strategy for the future. Leadership development will create committed disciples who will go and build relationships which are transforming.
Our desire is to reach more and more young adults for Christ who will significantly impact the future. We have numbers of young adults who are going into the ministry in some form, and a number who are presently serving through missions, students, pastoral, counseling, etc. God is moving and we are following!
We have no perfect pastors at Covenant and we have no perfect people here, too. Thank goodness!
Hays McKay – firstname.lastname@example.org
Church website – http://www.covenantdothan.org