Back in January, we released our Next Level Teams research on how fast-growing churches are mobilizing their staff. For that research project, we generated a Health Score for each participating church based on the church’s attendance growth and baptisms in the previous year. We asked the leaders from three of the healthiest churches (as per our data) if they would be willing to share their journeys to becoming a healthy church. In this series, we’re sharing their stories with you…

Healthiest Churches:
Granite United Church (campuses in New Hampshire and Massachusetts)

Lead Pastor: Anthony Milas
Denomination: Baptist

2013 Attendance: 900
2014 Attendance: 1300
Attendance Growth: 44%

2014 Baptisms: 300
Percent of Baptisms: 27%

When Pastor Anthony Milas arrived at Granite United Church 18 years ago, the church had almost $1.5 million in debt and was hated by the community. Naysayers assured Pastor Anthony that God had left the region and that any efforts to grow or plant churches would be met with little to no success.

Pastor Anthony refused to tell God what He could or couldn’t do, and he believed this church could be healthy again. Here are his thoughts on how Granite United Church was able to emerge from unimaginable circumstances and is thriving today:

  1. You may have to try something radical to bury the past and move your people forward. “We held a funeral service for the church to symbolically bury what had been so we could move forward. We were determined to pay the price to see people meeting Jesus in this church again. This action resonated for our people, and helped them grieve and let go.”
  2. Invest your time as a leader into the people who are hungry for a move of God. “Even after everything the church had been through, we had about 80 people who were committed and wanted to see God move. We began investing in these people and developing teams. We moved people from agreement with the vision to involvement in it. We had to constantly keep the vision out front. “People started meeting Jesus, and there’s no greater momentum builder than that. It was the sign that health and purpose were being restored to this congregation.”
  3. Stay married to your vision, not a particular church structure. “We began to staff for where we were going, instead of where we were. We have continued that practice. Our structure is fluid, and everyone understands that. We have a saying, ‘What got us here won’t get us there, and who got us here may not get us there.’ We develop structure and change it to meet our needs, not the other way around.”
  4. Don’t let your current situation determine the size of your vision. “We decided several years ago that we weren’t going to let a lack of seats or prime time spots determine what God could do through us in New England. Whether it’s starting 3 new campuses, additional service times, investing in a growing network of churches, or starting feeding centers around the globe – we will do what it takes to reach New England and the world with the Gospel of Christ. That type of attitude has been contagious and has allowed us to see incredible volunteer engagement and leadership. Refusing to make excuses has resulted in growth that others told us was impossible.”

 

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