Wednesday, April 22, 2009

It'll Grow on You...

A friend of mine recently asked for some advice on church growth, and I thought I would share here what I shared with her:

Before a church starts thinking about publicity, programs, attention getters, etc., it should take some things into consideration:1. Is this a Bible-believing, Bible-preaching/teaching church? Do we stick to Scripture and preach the Truth, the whole Truth, and nothing but the Truth even if it makes people uncomfortable or (in a Biblically appropriate way) offends them?

Since the Bible is God's Word, it would make no sense for Him to want to grow a church that either doesn't believe what He has said, or twists what He has said to fit what the people want to hear. A few of the many Scriptures which I believe back this up are: John 4:23, Matthew 15:14, Matthew 23:13 and I John 1:6-10.

2. How do we know God wants us to focus on growth right now? The church belongs to God, and we are to be in obedience to Him in all things. Have we as a congregation spent time in intense prayer and fasting both individually and corporately to seek His direction for the church? There could be any number of things God wants to do in the church before bringing a whole slew of new people in. He may want to do some pruning of the membership or the doctrine being taught, He may want to root out some corporate sin that needs to be dealt with, He may want to concentrate on building unity for some period of time, etc. Consider Matthew 7:3-5, I Corinthians 3:3 and Revelation 3:15-16

3. People can grow an organization, club, colloquy or group, but only God can grow a church. If you have a group of people that is growing strictly by man’s efforts and/or in violation of Scriptural principles, it is one of the former, not the latter. The question is, do we want to grow an organization here, or do we want God to grow a church? I Corinthians 3:5-7, Psalm 127:1, Acts 2:47, Ephesians 5:23

4. How did Jesus grow a church? After all, we’re to be about the business of following and imitating Him, right? If we take a look at how Jesus’ own following developed while He was on Earth as well as how the first century church grew, we don’t find that they had to go out and drag people in. They didn’t send out fliers, have space walks, barbecues, concerts and all that kind of stuff that so many churches do today just to try to draw people in. That’s a “top down” approach. Jesus and the first century church took a “bottom up” approach. They studied the Scripture, prayed, ministered to people as they had needs, and preached and taught the Word, and the people came out in droves.

Now, there’s certainly nothing wrong with barbecues and space walks. Indeed, if a church is following Christ rightly and while they’re praying, God says to them, “Go rent a space walk as a way of ministering to the community,” (He has certainly told people to do stranger things than that before!) somebody in that church had best get him/herself to a space walk rental place, pronto. What I’m trying to say is that the thrust of drawing people in should be the lifting up of Jesus in the church. Space walks are lagniappe. Mark 1:21-22, 28, Matthew 8:1, Acts 2:37-47

So, that would be my advice: a) Make sure the church is completely in line with what the Bible teaches, b) Seek God’s direction for the church through corporate and individual prayer and fasting, c) Recognize that He is the only one who can cause a church to grow, and that growth is a natural by-product of an obedient, prayerful, true to Scripture church. If your church does all that, God will reveal the specific things He wants y'all to do, and your church will find itself growing whether it wants to or not (and if it doesn't want to, RUN! :0)

No comments: