Megachurches, defined as churches with at least 2,000 members, have grown significantly in the past few years. With about 1,750 megachurches in America, these congregations steadily expand in attendance and outreach. If your megachurch is hoping to reach the unchurched, you may be looking for church improvement ideas to help you attract and retain new members.
Megachurches only grow with a clear plan for expansion and a dedicated team of leaders to work toward their goals. However, the megachurch model comes with its challenges, like the difficulty of cultivating genuine relationships and preventing stagnation. The members’ spiritual growth is a priority, and sometimes megachurches fall short. This article covers how to improve your megachurch and keep members vibrant and engaged.
Read the full article or skip to a specific section:
- Develop a Small Group Ministry
- Make People Feel Welcomed
- Develop Service Opportunities
- Engage Your Congregation
- Celebrate Together
- Contact Soft Play for Megachurch Playgrounds that Captivate
Develop a Small Group Ministry
One of the downsides of a megachurch with thousands of members is the difficulty of making meaningful connections. It can be challenging to get to know others personally with such a large attendance. As a pastor, you want every member — and potential member — to feel like they belong. You understand community among believers is vital, and it doesn’t happen accidentally.
Groups are an excellent way to develop community among smaller segments of a church’s membership. Indeed, a whopping 90% of megachurches say small groups are essential to their plan for spiritual growth. In a survey of American megachurches with 41% or more of their congregation active in small groups, more members volunteered, recruited others and shared their faith with those outside the church.
Your members need spiritually focused interactions with each other on multiple levels, including at Sunday services and in smaller groups. These groups should meet regularly and be easy to find and contact. Here are a few steps for developing a thriving small group ministry.
1. Set Goals
Developing a church culture of high involvement requires rethinking the congregation’s habits and setting goals for relationship-building. What do you want to accomplish with small groups? How do you want to spiritually equip believers through their participation? The answers to these questions will determine the curriculum you use and the activities you schedule.
When planning your megachurch’s small groups, determine your goals for membership and organization. You might want every member to be part of a small group or target segments of your membership, like married couples, college students or widows.
You will also need to determine how many small groups you will have and their functions. Some megachurches create several small groups for each member to choose from, learning different material. Others organize small groups around aspects of discipleship, like service and missions.
2. Train Small Group Leaders
Team-building is another essential part of growing a megachurch. To get your small group leadership team rolling, invite potential leaders to be a part of a small group themselves. This experience will help them understand effective small group leadership and commit to the responsibility. Having lukewarm leaders will only lead to a fizzled-out small group. The most successful small groups have a team of dedicated leaders and volunteers who can share responsibilities.
You need capable, faith-filled people to lead these groups, since church members may come to a small group leader for spiritual guidance before approaching the pastor. It may be helpful to interview potential leaders and screen them for the characteristics that will drive small group success, like spiritual knowledge, empathy and personability.
3. Equip Believers
Involvement and interaction are vital to successful small groups. Use small group meetings to encourage and equip believers to apply their spiritual gifts. These groups are also an effective avenue for caring for members’ needs. When someone goes to the hospital, their small group can be the first to make meals for the family. This method provides better care for individuals than the pastoral group can on their own.
Small groups don’t have to stop with Bible study and community. According to the Pew Research Center, three in 10 American adults do not affiliate with any religion. Members can multiply disciples by volunteering as a small group and evangelizing to their communities. Small groups can also serve outside of the geographical boundaries of your church building, city or state by taking mission trips together. Allowing autonomy in service and even worship — family-style services in a small group leader’s home — can encourage connection.
Make People Feel Welcomed
Many people may feel lost in the crowd at a megachurch, especially if they are newcomers. Visitors may even come in for a Sunday service and stay all day without anyone noticing their new faces. Taking extra time to welcome those who are new makes an impact and shows them that the believers at your church are interested in their lives.
You want to ensure visitors, church members, volunteers and staff alike feel appreciated and valued. Check out these tips for making people feel welcomed at your megachurch.
1. Recruit More Greeters
Many congregations have greeters at the doors and entryways, so everyone entering the building meets a smiling face. Often, these volunteers hand out church bulletins and welcome packets. They can also answer questions about services, help visitors find the right room and direct people to the refreshments.
Enlisting more greeters at the doors and coffee station can be an excellent way to ensure a member of your church personally welcomes every visitor. Encourage your greeters to genuinely engage with visitors and provide any assistance they need. They can also offer prayers for visitors who may request it.
2. Set up a Hospitality Center
Staff, volunteers, members and visitors would all appreciate a hospitality center. Some churches have designated stations where visitors can find maps of the building and information about meeting times, the church’s website, ministries and small groups. A volunteer at the hospitality center can ensure that every visitor knows what the church offers.
Refreshment stations are one of the most popular church improvement ideas. These stations have drinks and snacks available for everyone to mingle and greet newcomers. Coffee and water are usually a must, though some churches provide breakfast items like muffins, doughnuts and fruit. Refreshments don’t need to be elaborate, but you should make sure they are of good quality, so visitors feel valued.
3. Greet From the Pulpit
Many pastors welcome visitors and members from the pulpit at the beginning of the service. If the pastor can’t greet every visitor personally, this is a small gesture to show their appreciation for everyone’s attendance.
You can also invite more interaction between attendees. You might encourage people to stand up and introduce themselves to someone they haven’t met for a few minutes before or after worship. This practice may not be effective in every congregation, but for some, it can be a successful way to train members to look for volunteers.
4. Check in With Volunteers
You and other staff members should be accessible to volunteers through email, phone or text. You can also set up regular check-ins to ensure they have what they need and discuss the victories and challenges of their week as volunteers. Showing these members that you care for and appreciate them with small gestures like gift cards can be another great way to keep their energy up. You can also pick up special breakfast items for the worship team or other staff members involved in the service as a thank you.
5. Celebrate With the Team
Everyone values words of affirmation. Your ministry team is the backbone of church activities and ministries. Be sure to thank and encourage them often. Forward exciting news and comments from visitors to the entire team, so everyone can get excited. Celebrate a new team member with a welcome party. Publicly brag about the team’s accomplishments and hard work. Community events can also help staff get acquainted and improve relationships tremendously.
Develop Service Opportunities
Service opportunities are a great way to serve God, develop closer relationships with other members and bless others in need. As many believers know, givers end up being more blessed than receivers.
There are many reasons a member may want to volunteer with. They might want to obey Jesus’ example and grow in their relationship with Him. They may be eager to discover the talents they can use for God’s kingdom or feel fulfilled in their work for the church.
Whatever their motivation, several situations could discourage people from plugging in. At a megachurch, there may be so many opportunities for service that members feel overwhelmed or lost. People also experience roadblocks in their desire to volunteer, like scheduling conflicts and other life obligations. Here are a few tips for cultivating a thriving culture of service at your megachurch.
1. Remove Barriers to Service
Forethought from church staff can easily remove some barriers to service. Add new service opportunities to the weekly announcements and small group discussions. You can also start the conversation on social media to encourage involvement.
To make joining a service project easier, you can set up a sign-up table in the foyer with friendly helpers who can assist people interested in getting involved. You can also post a link to an online sign-up form. Any training for a service project should be simple, and members should feel like they can always ask questions.
2. Realize Your Church’s Talents
God has blessed everyone with talents and gifts to serve the church and those outside it. Everyone’s skills are different, and some may feel that if they are lacking in one area, there is no place for them at all. However, when all God’s children use their talents to the church’s benefit, they can accomplish incredible things together.
Help people get plugged in by surveying their talents and interests. If a member can identify where their strengths lie, they can find or create opportunities for service in those areas. Identifying their strengths and weaknesses can also help members pray about ways to improve so they can step outside their comfort zone when serving God.
3. Offer Many Opportunities
To help people participate, offer various avenues to serve. Members need to see that they can serve God no matter their life situation. Provide weekly and yearly opportunities that demand different degrees of commitment, so anyone can jump in whenever they can.
Some ideas for service include:
- Organizing worship services.
- Managing fellowship meals and refreshments.
- Maintaining the building and grounds.
- Preparing care packages for military service members, people in need and missionaries.
- Directing the shut-in ministry by collecting cards and meals.
- Operating a food bank or clothing drive.
- Adopting a child or family in the community and delivering goodie baskets.
Think outside traditional service opportunities to get people involved. If someone loves to knit, they could start a ministry making baby blankets for a local hospital. Does your church serve a community with a lot of non-native English speakers? Have someone who knows the language start a Bible study to reach more people.
Engage Your Congregation
You can use a wealth of ways to engage your congregation in the church’s work. Take some time to brainstorm ideas with your ministry team to get a higher percentage of members involved in activities outside services, and take a look at these ideas for growing engagement.
1. Host Church-Wide Events
Small groups may have activities, but a church-wide event can help members get to know others they may interact with only occasionally. Events can include group service projects, worship services or fun activities. Spending time together is a great way to improve your megachurch. Some ideas for fellowship and fun include:
- Game night
- Church picnic
- Hiking trip or campfire
- Outdoor classes and small groups
- Ice cream social
- Women’s and men’s retreats
- Church softball game
- Dedicated prayer night
2. Build a Playground
Families are an essential constituent in a megachurch and bring much-needed life and youth. An indoor playground at your megachurch can attract and retain young families. Parents can leave their kids with capable teachers in a safe indoor play space that encourages learning and play. Parents will also love a playground feature because it will allow them to enjoy focused time in their Bible classes or small groups.
Visitors will feel welcomed and comfortable enough to let their kids play and learn about the church’s message. You can even install themed play structures to help kids stay engaged. Themed play structures can be excellent tools for telling Bible stories to young kids.
3. Schedule Weekly Classes
Many megachurches are replacing adult Bible classes with groups that deliver a stronger sense of family for many believers. Churches can structure groups similarly while retaining several benefits of the adult class.
For example, adult Bible classes can deliver the same atmosphere as a small group. Teachers can structure Bible class groups to encourage caring for the participants in focused ways. Members can still provide care for one another through challenging times. The teacher can also provide space for discussion, questions and personal interaction.
Adult Bible classes offer the benefit of systematically studying the Bible together. There is significant benefit in studying the entire Bible in an adult class, and Bible classes provide a better atmosphere for that goal. Weekly classes can help members grow spiritually more than ever.
4. Start a Mentoring Program
Mentorship is another effective way to engage members and aid their spiritual growth. Mentors may spring up for members naturally through small groups or adult classes. However, a focused mentorship program can guide mentors to encourage and strengthen others.
Mentorship can take many forms. A married couple, maybe retired, could offer marriage counseling for others in the church. You could also pair small group leaders with kids in the youth program to check in and get to know them personally. Mentors could meet with their mentees once a month or biweekly to catch up on life and pray together.
In small congregations, frequent celebrations of members’ life events are common. Members find it easier to share personal details from their lives when they all know each other well. However, megachurches have so many members and special occasions that it is easy to get lost. Members must have a personal investment in the church. Implementing little practices to celebrate shared events can help members feel like they belong.
1. Commemorate Baptisms With Snacks
Baptism is a special event for any church. If you have time to plan, consider supplying snacks such as cupcakes after a baptism so members can celebrate together. Encourage everyone to stay afterward and embrace the new member.
You can also have an impromptu evening of worship afterward. Remember to take photos of the baptism and the new child of God with their small group or other family members. Compile the pictures and play a video reminding everyone of that year’s baptisms at the end of the year. You can also have an after-party for members to share their wisdom with the new Christian and pray over them.
2. Encourage Members to Share Their Testimonies
Hearing someone’s story of their walk with Jesus binds a congregation together. It also encourages them to get invested in each others’ lives. Small churches often encourage new members to go on stage to share their journey of faith. This practice might be challenging for a megachurch, yet sharing your faith journey with others is a powerful tool for connection.
Instead of asking new members onto the megachurch stage, you could record their testimony and share it on the screen in the auditorium. New members can also share their stories in a small group or another more personal setting.
3. Hold Communion Together
Sharing communion can be an excellent way to connect church members over their shared faith. Communion is an essential part of many church services, but holding communion in small groups can help members engage spiritually on a personal level. The small groups at your church could have communion together during their services to celebrate their common bond.
4. Throw an Anniversary Party
Your church has likely achieved many small milestones throughout its life. From the opening of the building to the addition of new members and programs, each step is meaningful. However, a church’s anniversary is an extra joyful time. When your megachurch hits an anniversary, throw a party to honor all that God has accomplished through its members.
A church anniversary party can be as simple as a potluck meal or as elaborate as a weekend-long event. Invite former members and worship leaders back, and provide a meal to encourage more interactions. Celebrations like this spark new enthusiasm and are the perfect opportunity to recognize achievements and growth. All the members can glorify God together for what He has done at your church and look forward to a bright future.
Contact Soft Play for Megachurch Playgrounds That Captivate
Megachurches use many methods to facilitate growth at their congregations and help members flourish. Ideas for attracting and retaining people are vital to driving megachurch improvements. If you want families to feel welcome at your megachurch, consider an indoor playground from Soft Play. We’re here to help you create a memorable experience for visitors with our customizable church play structures that fit any budget.
Engage the youngest generation with playground equipment that brings the Bible to the forefront while providing child care to parents so they can enjoy focused church activities of their own. Contact Soft Play today and see what the Soft Play difference is all about.