Holloway SDA Church is home to one of the longest standing, sturdy, and substantial SDA congregations within London and perhaps not the first place you’d think of, when developing strategies for church growth. Look a little closer however and you’ll see a few more vacant blue seats on a Sabbath morning, than there would have been 5 years ago. Listen and you’ll hear members passionate about accessing a community who largely seem to observe us and even admire our hats, from a distance. Listen closer still and there are stories of an aging and changing membership, some now too frail to attend, others perhaps tired of the weekly routine.
Are there still vibrant services, outreach activities and a large number of weekly attenders? Absolutely! Yet the discerning eye of Holloway’s Senior Pastor Samuel Ouadjo, recognised the need for something more. Cue in Pastor Tom Evans, Natural Church Development coach, for a Sabbath of reflection, troubleshooting and sanctified strategising from the 12th-13th July 2013. This followed on from a self-assessment exercise, completed by an ‘elected’ representative sample of the church who were required to complete an extensive survey; evaluating the various aspects of church life. The Natural Church Development survey is an instrument used throughout the SDA church to, assess the health of a church’s overall performance, identify strengths and weaknesses and develop a plan to support sustainable growth and vibrance within the body.
During the cosy, but candid Friday evening session, church board members were fed, watered and presented with the reality of the assessment results. In addition to discussing possible reason for the findings, those present were asked to feed back on their own perceptions of the high and low performing areas of church life. In addition to using the Sabbath School period to observe the church, Pastor Tom Evans presented a thought provoking and inspirational sermon during Divine Service, introducing the concept of the ‘red carpet service’. He suggested that the church should choose four key areas in which to deliver excellence and deliver them consistently. He ‘upped the bar’ another level by referring to the even higher, aspirational standard of ‘purple carpet service’ that would not fail to please the recipients.
During the afternoon service he shared the NCD survey results with the wider church and engaged those present in strategising for success.
While Holloway was pleased to find that there were several high ratings the most sobering moment came with the confirmation that one of our worse scores was in an area that most adversely affected church growth. It didn’t take a genius to deduce that if it was not addressed, all efforts to achieve growth would prove futile! And so the weekend of introspection ended and Pastor Tom returned to the US, leaving behind an enlightened and inspired church. Following this, an NCD implementation team has been constructed to ensure that the learning is applied and results are measured, enabling Holloway church to flourish.