February 22, 2012

The Great Church Growth Mystery

If you had a dollar for every book ever written on Church Growth, you would have a massive amount of dollars! It's possible that every time a bell rings a new Church Growth idea launches into oblivion through a conference speaker, a blogpost, a Lifeway resource, or a brand new best-selling book. I took a class on Church Growth in seminary. (Don't remember much about it, though.) There is a never-ending arsenal of ideas - some of them even at war with one another - to load into your church and watch the numbers explode! There are formulas [and I seriously mean formulas - like mathematical, algebraic-looking equations] that define the most effective avenues for Church Growth. Pastors, ministers, and leaders in the "Church" are banging their heads against a metaphorical wall right this very moment trying to come up with the best plan, pattern, program, or procedure to ensure that NO ONE could claim that THEIR church isn't "adding to the Kingdom".(Because that, my friends, would be an unthinkable atrocity!) And so...the ideas and formulas keep coming.... 

And yet, I find myself going back to this one basic idea over and over again. It won't leave me or let me rest. (And I know - someone's going to say, "Brian, don't be so naive! It's not that simple." And in part, they'd be correct. I know that different church families - different bodies of believers - reach and grow people in different ways. Duh!) But again, I keep finding this one thought showing right back up at my doorstep. Not waiting for me to come out, but BANGING on the door! Needing to be heard. Refusing to go ignored. Isn't it really, at the end of the day, this simple:

If your church isn't growing, isn't the first question you should be asking, "Am I sharing Jesus with anyone?"

Seriously. Doesn't your church - THE CHURCH - grow because someone chooses to follow Jesus? And like that crazy Paul guy ranted about in Romans 10, someone's got to tell them about Jesus so they'll know about Jesus so they'll choose to follow Jesus and trust Him for salvation. You don't need math or fancy graphs to tell you why churches are dying. It's happening because fewer and fewer people are telling other people about the life-changing news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

"Well, uhhhhhh...what am I supposed to do with 'em after I lead 'em to Jesus?"

DISCIPLE THEM!!! There's an entire book written by the God of the Universe to instruct us in how to do that! Walk with them. Do life with them. Show them how YOU walk with Jesus! And understand, if YOU aren't walking with Jesus...you've just solved The Great Church Growth Mystery.



Preston N said...

I think the underlying issue here is that churches have forgotten the simplicity and effectiveness in the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. Jesus didn't say to us - Go and take a seminar and learn a "techniques" or to learn a formula - but to simply share the gospel (good news) of Jesus! Sorry to be frank "But its the gospel stupid!". What I see today is church envy and this spurs on a host of problems and issues.

For example, if church A has seen a dramatic increase in growth, then typically church B and C go to church A and see how they grew so fast. Here is the thing - we serve a creative and resourceful God, a God that knows what will work for your particular church. What worked for A was never intended to work for B & C. Furthermore - what if Church A used very worldly and secular means of getting people to come - like promising them gifts or prizes or entertainment? Just because a church is seeing growth does not mean it was GODLY growth!! From what I can see too many churches are relying on secular means to grow their churches - rather than preaching the gospel and waiting for the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Brian Mayfield said...

Good word, Preston. Your "Church A" scenario is exactly why one of the most important books I've read as a pastor has been "Church Unique" by Will Mancini. Rather than copying and pasting vision, growth, steps, etc...we are called to seek His face for the vision and direction of our churches. This is much more difficult - to humbly pray and wait. But SO much more rewarding and fulfilling to see the Lord take our individual church body and use us as He's created us and uniquely shaped us - in our very unique community.

All that to say, Amen.

ali said...
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