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…

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Healthiest Churches:
Calvary Church (Woodstock, ON)
Lead Pastor: Jeff Price
Denomination: Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada

2013 Attendance: 275
2014 Attendance: 400
Attendance Growth: 45%

2014 Baptisms: 36
Percent of Baptisms: 11%

When Jeff Price arrived at Calvary Church in Woodstock, ON, the church was in survival mode. Because of some difficulties in leadership and a long transition period the church was struggling with its vision and was in a state of decline. When the board hired Jeff they made it clear that they loved his vision to impact their community. This empowered Jeff to make radical changes in hopes to rebuild the health of this church and re-focus it on reaching people who are far from God.

Jeff shared this advice for pastors who are leading churches out of an unhealthy season:

1) Don’t be afraid of a complete overhaul.

Pain creates urgency. Jeff didn’t waste time addressing the issues contributing to Calvary Church’s decline.

“There was a small exodus taking place. Although the building was only 10 years old, the environment felt old and outdated. The focus of the church was keeping key families content. Within the first six months, we moved a few staff members on, took out a loan and did a huge renovation to the building.

“We changed the church logo, website, dress code, style of service, music style, culture, stage, sound and tech. We hired a full-time kids pastor, a full-time youth pastor and a young music pastor with the intent to place a huge emphasis on young families.”

2) Help people think beyond themselves.

Jeff clearly communicated the vision driving each change to rally the congregation.

“In the renovation to the church building, we created an engaging and exciting kids facility that stands out in the community as a resource for families. We also increased our lobby, modernized our auditorium and built a cafe where the proceeds go to rescue girls from sex slavery.”

3) Hire young leaders and build a team mentality.

“We made huge staffing changes! We hired young leaders who were eager to make an impact for God with their lives. By doing this we were able to create a massive change in our culture and highlight that we were being intentional with becoming modern and focused on young families. The leadership style has changed from a dictatorship style to a team driven mentality.”

4) Involve your team in defining the culture.

“We have radically changed the culture here. We have tried hard to focus on having an impact in our community. Everything that we do here–from events to our Sunday morning experience–is hopefully done in a way that those who are far from God would enjoy and understand. We strive to work as a team and give every leader the ability to speak to our culture.”

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