Church growth strategies have been named many things by many pastors. Others call it “vision casting” others call it being “purpose driven” and others merely call it what it is….pragmatism. I came across these ten interesting myths that made me chuckle:
1. If You’re Not Growing, Something’s Wrong
If growth and a bigger crowd is “always” the result of obedience then some of the OT prophets will have some serious explaining to do.
Of course, if you’re not growing—or you’re declining—I think it is cause to evaluate what you’re doing, but it’s not a given that something is always “wrong.”
God could be doing something different—more Jeremiah and less Peter…
2. The More You Grow, the Healthier You Are
We would love to believe this one. It certainly feels good to have a bigger crowd. There’s a built-in justification for ministry leaders when more people show up, I know. However, just because your church has more people attending doesn’t mean your church is completely healthy. In fact, it might be cause to closely evaluate the message the crowd is hearing…
3. Contemporary Music Will Save Your Church
It can help at times—depending on the community and the people you’re trying to reach—but it’s not always a help. In fact, sometimes it’s an obstacle.
Changing your music and the feel of your worship gathering should have a reason bigger than, “We want to reach young people!” or, “We want to stay hip.” Hopefully, the music you sing is an authentic expression of your distinct makeup as both a church and a community and not a grasp at straws for church growth. …Read More!
“The problem in our day, which gives rise to highly questionable church growth methods, is twofold:
On the one hand, we are seeing a waning confidence in the message of the gospel. Even the evangelical church shows signs of losing confidence in the convincing and converting power of the gospel message. That is why increasing numbers of churches prefer sermons on family life and psychological health. We are being overtaken by what Os Guinness calls the managerial and therapeutic revolutions. The winning message, it seems, is the one that helps people to solve their temporal problems, improves their self-esteem and makes them feel good about themselves.
Mark Dever in his book, What Is a Healthy Church? writes, “When you peer into the life of a church, the growth of its members can show up in all sorts of ways.” Here are just a few good examples – though of course this is not an exhaustive list :
Growing numbers being called to missions—“I’ve enjoyed sharing the gospel with my neighbors from South America. I wonder if God is calling me to …”
Older members getting a fresh sense of their responsibility in evangelism and in discipling younger members—“Why don’t you come over for dinner?”
Younger members attending the funerals of older members out of love—“As a single man in my twenties, it was so good to be taken in by Mr. and Mrs.…”
Increased praying in the church and more prayers centered on evangelism and ministry opportunities—“I’m starting an evangelistic Bible study at work and I’m a little nervous. Would the church pray that …”
More members sharing the gospel with outsiders. …Read More!
I am currently reading Bob Dewaay’s book ‘Redefining Christianity’. It is a good primer in understanding the purpose driven movement that seems to be invading Evangelicalism. Today we see highly ‘successful’ and highly publicised churches being paraded in the limelight as the models for church growth. They say that they “do church” for “the unchurched” (unconverted sinners). The statistics of numbers joining is impressive and along with this comes the usual usual prod in the ribs with the jesting question, ‘Hey, is your church growing like ours?’
A rather sobering letter is featured in the opening chapters of ‘Redefining Christianity’ from a church member who is from a church that appears to be ticking all the success boxes. Well all doesn’t seem to be green on the other side of the fence though. You see….
[Letter] There have been major changes at the church. When you walk in, you will now find a MAC machine, a coffee shop where you can purchase donuts, croissants, coffee, you name it. There are also about a hundred tables with chairs to sit and eat. When service starts there is smoke, lights, lasers, and music so loud my ears ring after church is over. This week there was a ten minute service. Then, our pastor demonstrated a soccer move he learned that week. He did a flip and kicked a soccer ball. Then, he set up a table and him and his wife talked to each other about their trip to Africa. On top of this, we no longer use the Bible. We use the ‘Purpose Driven Life’.. …Read More!
Do they want bigger hot dogs? Flavored water or cushions for their ankles the customer is king. This is the approach to successful entrepreneurship. It is sometimes no different when it comes to modern day church marketing only that it is called being ‘purpose driven’. Long gone are the days of preaching the gospel and teaching sound doctrine. It’s not uncommon to hear pastors talk and ask questions like ‘what’s the vision for your church?’ or ‘how is your church going to grow?’ By ‘vision’ they usually mean ‘a purpose driven plan’ or pragmatic approach to church growth.
You see, the purpose driven church movement makes several assumptions but here we will look at 5 common errors and how they deviate from scripture.
1.A pragmatic church assumes that the primary purpose of Sunday morning church services is to reach out to unbelievers who are some times erroneously referred to as ‘unchurched christians’ . In the New Testament, however, the reason the church gathers is for worship and equipping (Eph. 4:11-16; Acts 2:37-47). Evangelism is to primarily take place in the believer’s life context (“as you go”—Matt. 28:18-20) rather than being the main focus of the Sunday worship service. …Read More!
Some argue that what the church only needs, apparently, is new methods to reach the lost, new techniques to promote the church, new packages for the gospel message. People, we are told, are not rejecting the gospel or Christ; they are rejecting our out-of-date, unappetizing forms, philosophies, and methods. With this presupposition, one church recently decided to take matters to another level.
New Day Church, a year-old congregation in Hendricks County, Ind., is finding sex helps sell its message of faith. An edgy marketing campaign asking, “What happens when God gets between the sheets?” promoted a sermon series in February and early March focusing on the link between sex and religion.
Members of the congregation heard the Rev. Denis Roy discuss God’s take on topics such as intimacy, pleasure, sexual preference, pornography, adultery and even sexual healing. Read More
Excerpt from a message by Kevin Turner. You will realise he seems to center around a pertinent question that many are asking themselves these days – about the dismal state of things in evangelicalism today:
While the church is growing at a record rate in Africa and Asia, churches are stagnating in the United States. “Revival is not when the top blows off but rather when the bottom falls out.” Those words were spoken to me several years ago when I asked the late Leonard Ravenhill to define revival. According to him, most religious activity in the United States does not resemble true revival. We know only a cheap imitation. We schedule popular speakers and the best musicians and set aside a week for special meetings. We call that revival. Our meetings are set up by organizers, not agonizers. We have reduced a move of God to a method. Yet the Bible says God is looking for a man. John Knox, the founder of the Presbyterian Church, prayed continually, “God, give me Scotland or I die!” He said this while he was chained deep inside the hull of a French ship off the coast of his country. He prayed desperately for seven years that God would send revival to his beloved Scotland. God works only within those who are desperate. Ravenhill also used to say, in reference to revival, that we would either “end up with prison camps or with Pentecost in the prison camps.” The apostle Paul either had riots or revival, and at times both. Yet the American gospel does not seem to produce either. Read More