Church Growth

I believe that healthy churches grow. I do not believe that every growing church is necessarily a healthy church. But healthy churches grow!

Tom Blaylock, our Director of Church Multiplication, recently sent me a review of the book, The Forgotten Ways, by Alan Hirsch. The author lists church growth principles if you want to grow a contemporary church. I don’t believe he was referring to worship style, but simply a church in this contemporary society. He says there are several things you must do and constantly improve upon:

  1. Expand the building to allow for growth.
  2. Ensure excellent preaching in a contemporary style dealing with subjects that relate to the life of the hearers.
  3. Develop an inspiring worship experience by having an excellent band and positive worship leaders.
  4. Have excellent parking.
  5. Ensure excellent programs for children and youth (do so and people will put up with less elsewhere in the-mix).
  6. Develop a good program of cell groups built around a Christian education model to ensure pastoral care and a sense of community.
  7. Make sure that next week is better than last week, to keep people coming.

This might be a good checklist to evaluate your local church’s ministry.

Just in case you have missed it, the vision of the Church of the United Brethren in Christ is to become a movement of churches that are changing their communities by seeing the unchurched become fully devoted followers of Jesus. To become a movement of churches that are growing because they are effectively reaching the unchurched. To become a movement of churches that are committed more to reaching the unchurched than they are to being churches filled with consumers. To become a movement of churches that are willing to risk everything to reach the unchurched, rather than be safe little communities that never risk anything. To become churches that resemble maternity wards rather than Intensive Care Units.

I said this before and I’ll say it again, and again, and again until we get it: this is not about being big churches. Size is not the issue. Rather, the issue is effectiveness in reaching unchurched and seeing them become fully devoted followers of Jesus. Friends, we have little of this taking place within the Church of the United Brethren in Christ.

But I sense a new, fresh breeze of the Holy Spirit beginning to blow across our Church. Some churches are getting it and doing something about it. We have churches that are doing it right, and they are not super churches. They are churches that were just like yours until they became convicted of their disobedience to God and the Great Commission.

Listen, if your church needs assistance in becoming a church that reaches the unchurched, I am willing to roll out the resources of this office to help you. If you’re really not serious about making the changes necessary to reach unchurched, don’t bother. But if you are, if you and your church are beginning to feel that holy discontent that you should be doing more but you don’t know how, I think we can help you get refocused in your vision and mission. And the first step might just be making that call for help. Call my office at 260-356-2312 or email me.

  • Rocky Spear
    Posted at 06:36h, 20 April

    Thanks, Bishop, for your straightforward challenge to us. This posting was copied and distributed to my Ad Board. Your leadership is greatly appreciated. Keep holding our (pastors and churches) feet to the fire! God bless.

  • Russel Trojan
    Posted at 11:06h, 29 April

    It is most sad that not one of the items listed says anything explicitly about preaching the gospel and discipline.
    Don’t you think those might be important to build a healthy church and not just a growing church?
    Social relevance has been preached by church growth experts for over 20 years. The drivel listed here is not new and probably not really effective either.

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