Suffering from ’empty pew’ syndrome? Fear not, there’s a strategy out there for you. Every 4-5 years a new flavour makes waves through denominations promising exciting changes to solve the riddle: “why are churches shrinking?”

Most clamour to stay relevant by adopting the latest trends and buzzwords. It’s a vicious cycle, we offer little more than the lowest common denominator of spiritual experiences, and therefore have to continuously improve how we entertain.

Missional thinkers are challenging the adoption rate of slick tactics. Karen Wilk rightly challenges this idea,

…we continue to assume that if we can just find the right program and strategy and implement it well, the church will be back on track and ‘succeed’.

The thing is finding the right program and strategy will lead to success. Here’s how and why.

The notion some strategic nuance is all the difference between packed pews and empty ones is largely predicated by most of the materials on church development. If you only had more of ____________________ your congregation would finally grow. Since most churches are generally rooted in their Sunday service and corresponding programs, improving this area is the key.

Conversely, the majority of churchgoers are looking to be served (entertained) rather than serve so leaders spend their energy meeting this need. Most churches tireless work to pour resources into contemporary services and correlating content.

The result?

If you get it right it works. If you play by the attractional game, and most do, it works when you get it right. The problem is in the race of providing the ‘best show’ what you have is never enough; the biggest and best resourced churches are the ones walking away with the award for most bums in seats.

Mega churches are not shrinking. Indeed, they are growing. They’re even baptising, albeit at a snails pace, but that’s still more than everyone else. The best and brightest are going to survive and grow (by addition) when we value production quality over all else. The problem is nearly all churches play by these rules, and since there’s only a handful of winners, most churches who can’t keep up with mega-Jones lose.

There’s a chance a church can make it to ‘Goldilocks’ where quality of services is just relevant enough to maintain what you already have. But the growing majority are dying a slow death because they’re playing by the rules that only the big boys can win.

Chasing after the latest in preaching, topics, music, media, is an exhaustive enterprise with a damning result. Either you work hard and lose, or you work hard to placate and nothing changes or grows.

There are few winners and chances are you aren’t one of them.

So we need something else….