CNLP 243: Rich Birch on the Nuts and Bolts of Church Growth – What the 6% of Growing Churches Do That Others Don’t

Here’s a question. When 94% of churches aren’t growing, what do the 6% do that the others don’t?

Rich Birch has worked at three growing megachurches, and distills the things they do that others don’t in a way that can apply to a church of 50 as easily as a church of 5000. Rich talks to Carey about the nuts and bolts of growing weekend attendance.

Welcome to Episode 243 of the podcastListen and access the show notes below or search for the Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts and listen for free.

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If you’re in the US, text CHURCHGROWTH to 44222.

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3 Insights from Rich

1. Healthy Churches focus on evangelism AND discipleship

There is a modern fallacy that churches can either focus on discipleship or evangelism. Healthy churches both today and in biblical times focus on both. Healthy church growth is based on both bringing our people deeper into their relationship with Jesus and reaching more and more people with the gospel.

2. Overnight success is almost never overnight

We all want to be the overnight success. The problem with that is that overnight success is almost never overnight. Often-times, it takes years of repetitive processes to produce the massive results you see in successful churches and organizations.

The Church Growth Flywheel Masterclass is a guide for leaders who want to begin and sustain processes that produce more and more growth over time. Rich argues that repetitive processes are the best way to scale your church or organization, not trying to become an overnight success.

3. 3 major growth opportunities that most churches aren’t leveraging

If handled well, invite cards can be one of the best ways to get your people to invite their friends. Rich recommends producing a new invite card for every series and placing those invite cards on every seat during every Sunday service of the year. If you do this, make sure to encourage your people to invite their friends every single week from the stage.

The fact about email is however many emails your church is sending out today, you should be sending more. The fact of the matter is that people open and read their email. Email allows you to engage with your people throughout the week. It keeps you relevant within their lives. The key is keeping the emails short, personal, and not image heavy. People will love reading your emails if they are quick and easy to read and include helpful information.

The final opportunity that most churches overlook is a handwritten letter or card. In our over-digitized world, the meaning behind a handwritten card or letter has grown significantly. The open rate of a physical letter is almost 100%. That is an opportunity that the church should be leveraging for good.

Quotes from Episode 243

None of us got into ministry because we wanted to lead dying churches. @richbirch Click To Tweet At the end of the day, most churches grow because their people are inviting their friends. @richbirch Click To Tweet We all want to be an overnight success, but success is almost never overnight. @cnieuwhof Click To Tweet

Read or Download the Transcript for Episode 243

Looking for a key quote? More of a reader?

Read or download a free PDF transcript of this episode here.

Didn’t See It Coming Will Help You Solve the Problems Most Leaders Miss

If you want practical help overcoming some of the biggest challenges leaders face, my new book Didn’t See It Coming: Overcoming the 7 Greatest Challenges That Nobody Expects and Everyone Experiences tackles the seven core issues that take people out: cynicism, compromise, disconnectedness, irrelevance, pride, burnout, and the emptiness of success and provides strategies on how to combat each.

I wrote the book because no 18 year old sets out to be cynical, jaded and disconnected by age 35. Yet it happens all the time.

The good news is, it doesn’t have to be that way.

Here’s what top leaders are saying about Didn’t See It Coming:

“Seriously, this may be the most important book you read this year.” Jud Wilhite, Lead Pastor, Central Church

“Powerful, personal, and highly readable. ” Brian Houston, Global Senior Pastor, Hillsong

“Whatever challenge you’re facing, whatever obstacle you’re hoping to overcome, whatever future you dream or imagine, there is something powerful for you here.” Andy Stanley, Founder, North Point Ministries

“Uncommonly perceptive and generous…You have to read this book.” Ann Voskamp, NYT bestselling author

“Masterful.” Reggie Joiner, CEO Orange

“Deep biblical insight, straightforward truth, and practical wisdom to help you grow.” Craig Groeschel, Pastor and NYT bestselling author

“This book is sure to help you.” Daniel H. Pink, NYT bestselling author

Over the years, one of the things I’ve enjoyed most about being a public speaker is having opportunities to hang out with Carey…It’s not a matter of if you’ll run into these challenges; it’s a matter of when. Be prepared by spending a little time with a leader who has already been there.” Jon Acuff, NYT best-selling author

“Nieuwhof’s book provides expert guidance…with an accuracy that pierces the heart.” Nancy Duarte, CEO Duarte Inc.

“A refreshingly transparent guide for all leaders in a wide variety of industries.” Bryan Miles, Co-Founder and CEO, BELAY

You can learn more and get your copy of Didn’t See It Coming here.

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Next Episode: Scott Sauls 

Why do people outside the church show so much hostility toward or indifference to people inside the church? Scott Sauls has some intriguing answers, plus we talk about the most effective and least effective evangelism and how to stay resilient in a troubled world.

Subscribe for free now and you won’t miss Episode 244.

CNLP 243: Rich Birch on the Nuts and Bolts of Church Growth – What the 6% of Growing Churches Do That Others Don’t


  1. Shelley Stevenson on April 9, 2019 at 6:26 pm

    When Christianity came to America, it became a business.

  2. Russ on February 14, 2019 at 8:40 am

    Is there a template / plan we can “steal” from Rich on the exact steps that are taken to promote each upcoming series?

  3. Timothy on February 12, 2019 at 11:53 am

    Invite cards – I love the idea of pushing the invite cards into the seats every Sunday. Can you give us an example of one that either Rich or you, Carey, create for your church? How “involved” should it be, size, an example of wording, etc. It would help me and others to know exactly what one looks like and we can tailor it to fit our churches. Thank you!

  4. DeeDee on February 5, 2019 at 12:03 pm

    Can a church in existence for over two decades, grow healthy if leadership only encourage close friends and family?
    Can spiritual bullying/control spirits,(unwanted, negative aggressive behavior, perceived or real power imbalance, repetition over time)., 1 Timothy 3. Should the congregation feel manipulated or intimidated to run to the prayer line ever week,(ie: you don’t need the Lord, if you are not up here for prayer, so you are being disobedient?). 1 Cor. 5:11. I have been discerning this for quite some time, and I need some assurance and confirmation that myself and others are incorrect.

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