Churches are a central establishment in communities all over the world, but many of today’s churches don’t look the same as they did in the past. What’s more, the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly affected attendance at virtually all churches. The American Family Institute found that church attendance in the United States declined 6% from 2019 to 2021. According to one statistic, attendance at independent evangelical churches averaged 220 members prior to the pandemic and is now sitting at 150 (Christianity Today). In order to effectively reach their surrounding communities, churches must be prepared to grow and continually welcome new members, especially in the context of a post-pandemic world.
If you’re pursuing a Master’s degree in Pastoral Theology, the leadership skills and biblical knowledge that you gain will help you think critically about the obstacles facing churches today. You’ll be able to develop solutions that can help your church expand and connect with new communities, as these are essential for their health and sustainability. Below, discover a few strategies you can consider implementing to promote church growth.
After Earning Your Master’s in Pastoral Theology, Let the Bible Guide You as a Leader
Today, most churches are looking for strategies on how to recover from the loss experienced after the COVID-19 pandemic. After completing your studies at an online Christian university, you’ll have gained leadership skills that will support your ability to expand your church’s following. Influential leaders are able to inspire and empower others, demonstrating the path forward. You’ll possess extensive knowledge of the Bible, the Word and sacraments, and the application of Scriptures, as well as how the Bible can be used in public worship. As a Pastor, your biblical understanding of leadership will empower you to make choices that guide your church in the right direction.
However, while tending to your church and community, you’ll also need to remember to take care of yourself as well. According to a report conducted by the Wesleyan Church, 39% of pastors felt some type of burnout in their work. To help avoid this, make sure to allocate time to your own wellbeing by including exercise in your routine, practicing good nutrition, digging into the Word for your own personal benefit, and more. You can even consider combining this with church activities. Whether providing healthy meals to your community or organizing introspective nature walks, you can lead your church in ways that nourish your community’s health and wellbeing as well as your own.
Reimagine How You Will Connect to Millennials and Gen Zers
Today, no church growth strategy is complete without connecting with Millennials and Gen Zers. Unfortunately, young people are walking away from faith in God, with a National Post survey reporting that just 41% of respondents aged 18 to 34 believed as opposed to 64% of respondents aged 55 and older. While creating your church growth strategy after completing your Masters in Pastoral Theology, it’s important to engage younger generations by speaking to issues that they are wrestling with and are important to them. For example, with Gen Z experiencing unprecedented levels of anxiety and depression, churches can work to become a space for younger people to improve their mental health through prayer and support from the community. With a communications strategy that accounts for the needs and concerns of these generations, your church can be a helpful place to ask questions, receive support, and benefit from a healthy and authentic faith journey.
Create Opportunities for Virtual Attendance
The effects of the pandemic on churches cannot be overlooked, with many pastors questioning how they can continue to grow their church’s influence in the community while coming to terms with a dip in attendance now that the facilities have reopened. During your career in vocational ministry, one of the most sustainable growth strategies you can invest in is adapting to the changing times. Recovering from a pandemic means finding new, innovative ways to meet needs by adopting new methods and thinking outside the box. Many churches have gone online during the pandemic, offering their attendees the option to attend in person or by connecting via video conferencing tools. This can be especially beneficial for those who are still hesitant about returning to public gatherings, those who have adopted new schedules or have benefited from the flexibility of an online service, as well those who have reduced mobility and difficulty traveling.
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