What pastor isn’t in search of the right formula to see his local church grow? But what does growth mean, and how is it to be measured? Pastor Mark Neal, lead pastor of Hamilton Hills Church, the conference’s host, led a module that was attended by more than 180 pastors who wanted to hear what he is doing to create growth in his church.

Mark says, “We do not have visitors in our church; we have guests!” A visitor is unexpected, but a guest is someone you are expecting and excited to have. This is the mindset behind the church’s ability to turn guests into family.

Attendees listened, laughed, and took a lot of notes as Mark walked them through the nine steps that Hamilton Hills takes. He also says to “lead the people with the why—why are we doing what we are doing?” This helps with the buy-in of every person that walks through the door. Mark implored the pastors to have a growth metrics that measures people’s spiritual growth, not church attendance. He encouraged each pastor to envision the people in his church taking one step closer to Jesus in their spiritual walk and how that would help turn their guests into family.