I want to apologize for a small bit of disorganization, it has to do with the subpoints in the Table of Contents mismatching the Headings in each chapter. In the next section I will not use the Table of Contents subpoints, but the Chapter Headings instead.
Italics are mine.
Chapter 1: Sticky Church
- Why the front doors is highly overrated: Jesus didn’t call us to sign people up, but to follow Him and obey everything He commanded.
- A parable lots of people know but not many understand: Parable of the Sower. A great spiritual start is no guarantee to a happy ending.
- Why stickiness is so important: Too often we church leaders settle for celebrating initial growth, but hardly mourn when the sprout dies. I think the sad part is that we as church leaders often act like it was the new believers’ fault. If they could just “get it” like everyone else. What poor leadership I am guilty of.
- The purpose and format of this book: Osborne not against a wide open front door. We have to slam back door shut. Format: look at sermon-based small groups, discover why traditional models don’t work, review a plan that does work (with the understanding you will adopt and adapt it to your setting). The book’s tone is conversational, conveying the history of Osborne’s church. Also note these principles were mined out over decades, not just from Osborne’s church, but other churches, these principles scale for all size churches, and work in every “flavor” of church (edgy or traditional).
- An Illustration: Two churches grew from 250 to 500. Church A was not sticky (slippery?), Church B was sticky. Church A lost 7/10 people who began attending. Church B lost 3/10 people who began attending. To grow to 500, Church B had to get 477 more people to attend to achieve the same growth! The other sad truth is that Church B also created 584 former attendees… which hurts your church reputation (and the Kingdom!).
Chapter 2: Who Are These Guys
- Why it may not matter if your church stinks at marketing: The history of North Coast begins with a small church meeting in a cafeteria. We ran an ad in the paper, but it was entirely untrue. We didn’t have a great children’s ministry and weren’t that friendly. So I canceled the ad. We’ve never gone back. Instead,
we believe that even a small trickle can flood the whole house if everything is locked up tight. (20)
- Small leaks, big messes, and church growth: nothing here.
- Come and see evangelism: We’ve put all the energy we would spend on big events, marketing, and creativity and put it into retention.
- The 80% factor: Since 1985 80% of our average weekend attendance attends small groups. That isn’t a magic number. You should figure out what percentage of average adult monthly worship is and pit your small group attendance (or maybe sign-ups? Not sure…) against it.
- Scalability and slow growth: From a small church to mega-church to multi-campus church, this system has never had to change. Again, the system is closing the back door and velcroing people to sermon-based small groups. By the way, we aren’t an over-night success. In five years we grew from 130 to 180, and five years after that to grow from 180 to 750. That said, these principles have worked for us in every scenario and still does today.
Chapter 3: How I Learned About the Importance and Power of Stickiness
- Killing the dream: 1980 to 1983 were dark years. I had great success as a youth pastor, but now I was in over my head–even though my church was small than my previous youth groups. 128 people showed up to my candidating service. We grew to 150, then dropped to 135 and stayed there. And that’s about the time I decided to kill the dream. I realized this principle:
…once I gave up the dream of reaching everyone outside the church, I was suddenly free to focus on taking care of those who were already inside the church. (25).
- Tools or sheep? It is popular today for growth-minded pastors to become frustrated and tired of long-time Christians. I was one of them. I played the part, but I was really just using my people to reach new people–instead of actually caring about my flock.
- Pastors who don’t like Christians:
One pastor recently told me that he didn’t want any Christians coming to his new church plant… I understand where he’s coming from. He’s tired of dealing with small-minded traditionalists who want to maintain a historical preservation society more than fulfill the mission. But on the other hand… what’s he going to do when those new Christians become plain ol’ Christians, the kind he hates to be around? (26)The other side of the equation is equally true–churches focused on long-time Christians only are more like Teflon than Velcro (unless you marry a member’s daughter).
- Why marketing too early can actually keep people away: When people attend your church due to word-of-mouth, they have an entirely different experience than coming through marketing. We can’t get the cart before the horse. A restaurant shouldn’t send out mailers with images of amazing food and promises of a friendly staff if it isn’t true. People will come once and never again. Word-of-mouth happens naturally when you are doing things right. So do things right! On that note, do things right FOR YOUR CHURCH. McDonald’s doesn’t try to be Ruth’s Chris Steak House. You shouldn’t try to have programs that don’t fit your church or goals. Be you and be you well.
- Three Major Changes: 1. Don’t treat your people like a nuisance. 2. Teach with slow-growers in mind (Osborne does not explain this at all here.) 3. Launch a Small Groups ministry focused on building significant relationships over growing numerically (this is in direct violation of Activate principles).
Chapter 4: Why Stickier Churches are Healthier Churches
- Why closing the back door can make the front door seem bigger: Closing the back door means creating a church environment people love. And if people love it, they will tell others about it.
- The tell-tale mark of a raving fan:
…most of us can’t help but tell others when we’ve been well served–and no one needs to tell us to do so. (31)
- The high price of bait and switch: The problem with strong marketing and special services is that people come in expecting to be “wowed” and will desire the same experience each week. (I disagree with Osborne here. People know a special service is special. But whatevs. I do agree with this next part though.). The person who comes by word of mouth has no big expectations outside of what they have hard from their friend/relative. It’s also helpful not to evangelize through marketing, but instead relationships. Evangelism today is primarily conducted through inviting people to be around other Christians in a church service, Bible study, or hang-out. Relationships offer a great vehicle for introducing people to basic concepts of Christianity.
- How one seeker church made sure no one brought any seekers: Osborne’s parents once spent a great deal of time ministering to some friends. They came to church with them, but unfortunately it was a huge push to reach out to your neighbors and pray for the unsaved. This church was not being a Sticky Church, but rather a special-event-marketing church. The funny thing was that his church touted itself as a “seeker-sensitive” church. Special events also make your people believe that they can’t do it themselves naturally. Follow-up is natural in Sticky Churches, but a huge pain in special-event-marketing churches. Assimilation is also natural in Sticky Churches because seekers came with friends to begin with and don’t need structured help finding a relationship.
- Final Thought: Around 400, 800-1,200, and sometimes 2,500-3,000, churches start to realize their back door has become a revolving door. This usually comes as a suprise to leaders, but the back door always had a problem–only now the influx has diminished. As soon as possible, get sticky and close the back door!