The Evangelistically Healthy Church

6 Actions Leaders Can Take To Lower Their Church Conversion Ratio

On average, it takes 50 church members a year to lead one person to Jesus.

Thom Rainer suggests that an evangelistically healthy “church conversion ratio” (CCR) is about 20:1 (that is, 20 church members leading one person to Jesus per year).

Less than 5% of churches in the U.S. hit this particular target.

But is it possible to move closer to, say, a 3:1 church conversion ratio? Or (and this is really going to blow your mind), what about a 1:3 church conversion ratio?

Imagine every member in your church making at least one disciple each year! 

What would it take to get there? 

Obviously, there would be a greater need for prayer and church-wide repentance and revival. It takes a movement of God to fulfill the mission of God. 

But as you pray diligently, I believe the following action steps will also become necessary as well.

Action Step #1 – Make a personal shift from addition to multiplication.

What is your “personal conversion ratio” (PCR)?

If you lead one person to Jesus a year, your PCR would be 1:1.

But to shift from addition to multiplication, your PCR should increase to 1:2 or better every year! And you’ll never make the shift from addition to multiplication without doubling or even tripling your personal evangelism.

You cannot lead more people to Christ without pleading with more people on behalf of Christ. 

Action Step #2 – Communicate the mission and strategic goals of your church constantly.

Do you challenge your church every week to make disciples? 

Every Sunday service and every small group meeting is an opportunity to cast vision and equip disciples to make disciples. You can even use social media, email, text messages, and phone calls to remind, inspire, educate, and equip your people to make disciples.

Church leaders should talk about disciple making so much that people get fed up and leave or get fired up and learn how.

Does your mission statement even use the phrase “make disciples”? 

No? Then you might consider changing it. You don’t need a trendy mission statement that is appealing to the unchurched. You need a biblical mission statement that the church finds impossible apart from divine empowerment.

Action Step #3 – Invest more time with reproducing disciple makers.

Think about it this way, Jesus spent a lot of time with crowds but He spent most of His time with the Twelve. 

Eleven of those disciples became reproducing disciple makers.

The reason they were so effective is a) they had been with Jesus and b) they were empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Can their effectiveness be replicated in your life and in the lives of those you lead? By God’s grace, I believe so!!

Study how Jesus made disciples and simply do what Jesus did. Don’t just teach them. Show them. Challenge them. And, most importantly, encourage them as they make disciples.

Action Step #4 – Align everything around making and mobilizing disciples.

Question everything!

Look at your church calendar. Do the programs and events of your church have anything to do with making and mobilizing disciples?

Look at your staff. Are you hiring people who are effective disciple makers in addition to any administrative tasks they may be assigned to do?

Look at your volunteers. Are these volunteers being asked to serve in a role that challenges them to grow spiritually? Are you discipling them, delegating to them, or dumping on them?

Look at your budget. Is it obvious that the church’s money is being spent to advance God’s kingdom?

Look at your own time. Are you personally spending your time on making and equipping disciples (including personal evangelism, sermon preparation, and small group discipleship opportunities)?

Every dollar given by donors and every hour given by volunteers and staff should be maximized for kingdom effectiveness or it is a waste of time and money.

Action Step #5 – Raise the bar on what it means to be a church member.

If you have “members” who chronically stay home when it rains, who don’t give generously, and who never share their faith, are they really members? 

I realize they are members on your church roll, but can they truly be considered members of the body of Christ? These wayward members must be confronted.

If church discipline is a foreign concept to your church, you might consider taking your pastoral staff through a book like the one from 9Marks on church discipline and church membership

For a deeper dive into this topic, I recommend Jonathan Leeman’s book The Church and the Surprising Offense of God’s Love: Reintroducing the Doctrines of Church Membership and Discipline.

Bottom line? If you ignore sinful behavior in your members you aren’t handling the Word correctly (2 Timothy 3:16) and you will be held to account (Hebrews 13:17). 

Action Step #6 – Preach to the head, heart, and hands every week.

The preaching event is your greatest resource in equipping and mobilizing disciples to grow and reproduce. 

Why? because “the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the ideas and thoughts of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12) 

When you faithfully preach the Word of God you are stabbing people in the chest with divine truth. It’s also the moment when you’ve got the majority of your church members present and are able to align everyone corporately with the mission of God for your church. 

Pastoral counseling in important. Visiting people in the hospital is important. Personal evangelism is important. Administrative tasks are important.

But if you are called to preach, your sermon is your greatest gift you can offer your church.

Where do we go from here?

I’ve given you six action steps to lead yourself and your church towards healthy reproduction. Personally, I recognize action steps one, two, and six need more attention in my life and ministry. 

But your next action step depends on where you are and how the Spirit is leading you. Are you praying for the lost? Are you pleading with the lost? Are you preaching and equipping and inspiring your church to do the same? Which of these steps will you prayerfully consider taking today?


Nathan is the pastor of City Life Church in Ridgewood, NY. He and his family are committed to making and multiplying disciples in the most diverse county in the US. Read more about Nathan here. Visit the City Life Church website here.

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