Sometimes your congregation gets to such a size that it becomes important to keep them from leaving but keep them from getting much larger or they’ll get the idea they can just not show up. First of all, insist on the King James Translation of the Bible and insist on it alone. Correct everybody’s pronunciation whenever they read a name or city incorrectly.
When it comes to music, stick to the hymnal. The older the songs the better. Keep an eye on the year each song was written and try to make them average out to the seventeen hundreds if you can. Sings as correctly as possible even if you’re singing the most difficult hymn in the book.
Grumble when electricity, microphones, heating, and air conditioning are installed. What will they do next? Install speakers and electrified guitars? You barely tolerate the acoustic!
Since kids are the future, don’t give them the option as to whether or not they can come to church, drag them kicking and screaming if you have to. You don’t want to risk them becoming wise as to the church’s agenda, so keep them playing basketball and other games and don’t do anything more than skimming Bible verses. Eventually they’ll get so bored that by the time they reach college they’ll want nothing to do with church.
Impose a strict dress code and cause your members to enforce it. Show no mercy to newcomers or those healing from surgery – we don’t really want them to come back next Sunday. Eventually you can nudge the dress code to more modesty and specify exactly what people can wear than the general regulations created at first.
While you’re at it, make certain to gossip about those absent and create a behavioral code of conduct. Strive for conformity and don’t allow spontaneity in worship. After awhile, some people will feel singled out and do as everybody else does. Nod your approval when this happens and make them feel included.
Any an all decisions or ministries for that matter must go through or involve the pastor. Insist that if anything is tried without the pastor it will be doomed to failure. Rely on the pastor’s interpretation of the scripture regardless of context or cultural implications.
Since regular attendance of the core congregation is key, allow them to choose their preferred seats. It will be easy to see when they are absent and when strangers have their seat. Make sure to remark, “That’s where so-and-so usually sits, but I guess they aren’t here today.”
Your greatest tools are the people already in regular attendance of your church. Give them the power to enforce your unsaid rules and make strangers uncomfortable so that they get the idea this is not the church you want them to attend. Cater to the elders and give them all the power except the licence to insist on a new pastor when they get uncomfortable.
These are the big rules to go buy when making a people-repellant church. If you do it right people will keep up the rules without knowing why. When the elder generation dies out, the new elders tend to carry on the rules because it seems right in accordance with scripture, the scripture so skewed to the former leadership’s preferences that it barely resembles the scripture from whence it came. Such rules have allowed successful churches to be nearly exact clones of their nineteen-fifties ancestors, even nearly sixty years later. A warning: without careful shifting of current policies over a long period of time, the members will get wise to the manipulation and will either leave or split the congregation.