Bob Merritt is the Senior Pastor of Eagle Brook Church, a multi-site church in the Minneapolis area that has seen explosive growth under Merritt’s leadership and that was recently named to Church Relevance’s Top 12 Churches to Learn From on Church Growth.

Q Was church growth something specific that you focused on, or did it just happen organically?
A Church growth, or “becoming a large church” has never been our focus. Our focus has been to reach as many people as we can and lead them into a relationship with Christ, one person at a time.

Q What are the top factors that contributed to numerical growth in your church?
A Our weekend worship service is a strategic tool to attract and reach others for Christ. We make it easy for people to invite their unchurched friends. Everything starts with the teaching, which has to be biblical, engaging and applicable to real life. Next is the music, followed by children’s ministry. Those three areas are a “can’t miss” for us. It’s possible to be biblical and relevant; excellent and genuine; inviting and deep; for believers and unbelievers.

Q How do you know whether all those attending your church are becoming spiritually mature?
A The two metrics we constantly watch are church attendance and people saying “yes” to Christ. If either of those plateaus we get very nervous, because healthy things are supposed to grow. But beyond that, we measure three areas that tell us if people are becoming spiritually mature. We call it the Big 3: Do they attend on the weekends, do they serve, and are they in a small group?

Q What is key to successful outreach in the church’s community?
A It begins with me. I have to be active in reaching others myself. Then our staff. It’s not OK to be on our staff and not be praying for and inviting unreached friends to your church. Then we talk about it regularly in our church. We feature stories of people who’ve come to faith. We design strategic message series and tell our congregation, “This is that series to invite your friend to church.” You have to make outreach the main thing that you do as a church. It’s not OK to have a men’s, women’s, youth or children’s ministry that doesn’t reach others for Christ. The first thing we ask of any program is “Is it reaching others for Christ?” If it’s not, we fix it or stop doing it.

Q What is the most influential book in your pastoral ministry?
A “Integrity” by Henry Cloud

This article originally appeared in the NAE Insight.