You’re Number One! How churches grow


I was asked to write a newsletter article for a new congregation that is getting started in Atlanta. This new congregation, this new church, like every new church, needs to grow.

There are obviously numerous factors that determine if and how a church grows. However, as I shared with this new church, there is one factor that makes or breaks a church when it comes to growing.

Let me say here, I believe that for a church to grow, the basics of our Christian faith must be present. The sovereignty of God Almighty must rule. Jesus Christ must be the Head of The Church. Jesus Christ must be preached as the crucified and risen Savior. The power of the Holy Spirit must be unleashed through faithful study of Holy Scripture. These are mandatory basics for a church to grow.

But two Christians could have these basics firmly in place and still remain a “congregation of two.” What I am addressing here is how the congregation of two moves forward to be the growing church God wants it to be.

So, what follows is the article I offered under the title “You’re Number One!” It is specific to the new congregation of St. Martin Lutheran Church on Piedmont Ave. in Atlanta, but it holds truth for all congregations, old historical churches to new church starts.

Question: What is the Number One factor in establishing a congregation and growing a church? No, not the pastor. No, not the Evangelism Committee. No, not social media. No, not programs of outreach. These are all eventually helpful, but none of these is the most effective.

The Number One factor in establishing and growing a church, a local congregation, is the members inviting and bringing new people.

Every poll emphasizes this. Every article on church growth and evangelism emphasizes this. I have experienced this first hand when I came to Fayetteville to serve Prince of Peace. Sure, I worked hard as did the very first pastor before me, but it soon became evident that our growth was because the members themselves invited and brought others with them.

Here at St. Martin, Pastor Clark is working hard. The Evangelism Committee is working hard. Programs and initiatives are getting into place for connecting with the surrounding community. Amen. And “thank the Lord and sing His praise.”

However, you’re still number one. St. Martin is a uniquely vital and faithful witness to The Faith. It will grow because you invite and bring new people.

All of this gives Glory to God, responds to The Great Commission, and helps bring life and vitality to this congregation you have so boldly and faithfully established.

In addition, there is the reality of a “critical mass.” This is the number of people it takes to create and maintain a church that calls and supports a full-time pastor and offers meaningful programs of ministry on a broad scale.

So, You’re Number One! Your Evangelism Committee will be praying for you, reminding you, encouraging you, and helping you to invite and bring others so that they are blessed, and so St. Martin can grow into the church we all want it to be.

Easter Sunday, April 9, is one target date for us all to invite and bring a local family member or friend, specifically un-churched family and friends.

On our Lenten Journey we ponder the great outpouring of love our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has for us. His great love calls us and empowers us to share His great love with as many others as we possibly can.

“Come, Holy Spirit, and give us outpouring love, courage, and fortitude to bring others to Jesus. Amen!”

This concludes the article. You are most welcome to use it and adapt it to your own church so that your members are also encouraged to be a part of this exciting and important work of growing our churches for the Glory of God and the salvation of people.

[Dr. Justin Kollmeyer, a thirty-seven year resident of Fayette County, is a retired Lutheran pastor. He offers his preaching and teaching pastoral ministry to any group seeking or needing a Christ centered and traditionally grounded sermon or teaching. Reach him at]