From 1,000 to 2,000 in 1,000 Days: Engagement Pathway Best Practices

We’re aiming for what might be called the Goldilocks growth rate—quick enough to make a substantial impact but sustainable so it doesn’t overwhelm your resources or team. To achieve this, we’ve identified that retaining 26% of new guests is pivotal.

To effectively double a church’s attendance from 1,000 to 2,000 members over 1,000 days, or about three years, it’s crucial to focus on both attracting and retaining new guests. Aiming for a 3% increase in new guests weekly means approximately 30 new guests each week for a church of 1,000 members, totalling about 1,560 new guests annually. The goal is to retain 26% of these guests, which translates to around 406 individuals becoming regular attendees over the year. This strategic approach of engaging and retaining new guests is essential for meeting the ambitious growth target and ensuring a vibrant, expanding church community. These figures highlight the importance of a structured engagement pathway that supports sustainable growth through clear, actionable steps.

The Concept of Engagement Over Assimilation

We’re shifting the focus from assimilation—a somewhat outdated and impersonal concept—to engagement, which centers on the guest’s active participation and integration into the church community. This strategic pivot is more about inviting people into an ongoing interaction rather than merging them into a pre-set mold.

The Three “Ones” of an Effective Engagement Pathway

  1. One Experience: Create a clear, engaging first step for newcomers. This could be a simple event or orientation session designed to introduce new guests to the church community. Examples include “GT in 60” or “Welcome to Liquid,” which are tailored to be straightforward and accessible.
  2. One Next Step: Encourage a single, clear next action for newcomers. Focusing on team involvement over group participation initially can be more effective in building connections and integrating new members into active roles within the church.
  3. One Connection Team: Establish a dedicated team responsible for maintaining and nurturing the connections made during the initial engagement. This team ensures newcomers feel valued and are smoothly transitioned into their chosen areas of involvement, with regular check-ins and personal attention.

Avoiding Common Pitfalls

  • The Velcro Myth: Beware of creating too many entry points, which can dilute the focus and effectiveness of your engagement strategy.
  • Shiny Object Syndrome: Stick to proven strategies rather than constantly shifting to new trends or ideas, which can disrupt the continuity and stability necessary for sustained growth.

Call to Action

We discussed how to incrementally increase your church’s capacity to welcome and retain new guests, focusing on the importance of regularly scheduled connection events and the need for a cohesive, community-oriented approach.

We look forward to seeing how your church can implement these practices to not only grow in numbers but also deepen the sense of community and belonging among its members.

In this episode, we also reference into the innovative approaches of Greg Curtis from Climbing the Assimilayas. Greg’s insights into church engagement are reshaping how churches think about integration and connection. His coaching and courses offer deep dives into effective strategies that can help your church not only grow in numbers but also in community strength and cohesion. If you’re looking to further explore and master the art of church engagement, Greg’s resources could be the next step in your leadership journey. His practical, experienced-backed approach provides tools that are both actionable and transformative. For those interested in taking their church’s engagement strategies to the next level, checking out Greg Curtis’s offerings at Climbing the Assimilayas is highly recommended.

Additional resources and coaching are available for those interested in further expanding their understanding and applying these principles. We talk about them at the end of the episode.

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Rich Birch
Rich Birch is one of the early multi-site church pioneers in North America. He led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 5,000+ people in 18 locations. In addition, he served on the leadership team of Connexus Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. He has also been a part of the lead team at Liquid Church - a 5 location multisite church serving the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. Liquid is known for it’s innovative approach to outreach and community impact. Rich is passionate about helping churches reach more people, more quickly through excellent execution.His latest book Church Growth Flywheel: 5 Practical Systems to Drive Growth at Your Church is an Amazon bestseller and is design to help your church reach more people in your community.