There are disciplines in pastoral work that are simple, in fact they are ‘no brainers’. Yet they are still easily neglected, and if they are neglected a church will not grow.

Prov. 27:23 Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds

As shepherds of our flocks we should know where our people are. Here’s the first of three disciplines that are simple, and vital to church growth.

1st Discipline: following up new comers
We must be deliberate about following up newcomers or visitors. I’m not talking about Aunt Myrtle visiting for one Sunday from the UK, but people who live close enough to be involved regularly in church in some way. That is, ‘live ammunition’ visitors. Most weeks in most churches there are live ammunition visitors, and yet so many churches (and this means the leadership) are not deliberate about getting their contact details, or about contacting them afterwards.

Does your church have a system for getting the contact details of new people? An address and phone number is worth a hundred vague smiles and handshakes. Welcome them, be nice, be friendly and be sure to get those contact details.

The next question is, are these people being followed up properly? If I ask pastors how many visitors they get in a year, I can generally get a vague number. But if I ask what’s the result of that follow up, how many joined the church, how many were not Christian, how many did a Christianity Explained style course, I usually get teddy bear eyes looking back at me. Attentive but empty. Yet these contacts are the most vital group contributing to church growth. What could be more important than properly following up these people? A pastor should know these results, even if he hasn’t done all the follow-up personally.

Just as important is when are they followed up. My theory is the value of a visit declines by 15% per day. A Monday visit gets you 100% possible value, Tuesday 85% etc. If people haven’t been contacted by the following Sunday, you’re batting close to zero. A visit is best, or at least a phone call to line up a visit.

“But I haven’t got time for this?” If you’re the pastor of a church that wants to grow, what are you doing that is more important than this?

The second discipline: knowing who’s at church and who isn’t. More coming soon…