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Currents Shaping My Church: How Smaller Churches Grow

The secret includes goals and Wal-Mart.

Many smaller churches reflect a rural mindset, marked by crisis and hardship. A few show growth and vitality. What makes the difference? A recent survey of 109 growing smaller churches in the middle United States shows 15 common characteristics. The growing churches exhibited a majority of these traits:

  1. The pastor and members were involved in community activities.
  2. They were located in towns of 2,500 people or more.
  3. They were fewer than ten miles from a Wal-Mart.
  4. The population was in transition.
  5. They were pastored by younger pastors.
  6. The church was "very friendly," not just friendly.
  7. The church was open to new methods.
  8. Evangelism was a number one priority.
  9. The atmosphere of the church was open and safe for newcomers.
  10. The church had multiple children's ministries.
  11. Mentoring activities were available for newcomers.
  12. A high percentage of members were involved in ministry.
  13. Evangelism was the strongest skill of the pastor.
  14. Guests were welcomed and treated as though they were members.
  15. The church had written plans and goals.
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