Thought On Church Growth

Discussion in '2005 Archive' started by gb93433, Jan 17, 2005.

  1. gb93433

    gb93433
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    Quite often the issue of church growth and gospel preaching is challenged. If a growing church and preaching the gospel cannot be synonymous then what Jesus did was a hoax and we are all fooled. He started the church and we are here today because of those who have gone before us and the church grew then.

    Healthy churches grow, while unhealthy churches are stagnant or die.
     
  2. Scarlett O.

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    Alright, let's define "growth".

    What are you talking about?

    </font>
    • numbers for numbers sake?</font>
    • membership in general?</font>
    • spiritual training?</font>
    • more salvations/baptisms?</font>
    • bible study?</font>
    • church activities?</font>
    • church work?</font>
    • building/grounds?</font>
    What's your idea of "growth"?

    [​IMG] Peace-

    YSIC
    Scarlett O. [​IMG]
    &lt;&gt;&lt;
     
  3. pastorjeff

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    I have to agree with gb93433. Although God may have plans for some churches not to grow ( why we do not know) The majority of churches will naturally see numerical growth spill out of spiritual growth. We can not judge success on numbers alone, but a lack of numerical growth should cause us to ask "Why Not?"
     
  4. Debby in Philly

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    Real church growth is like that in a human family - more births than deaths!

    Seriously, every church should be about birthing new souls into the kingdom, and doing whatever is biblically necessary for nurturing them and keeping them in the church.
     
  5. Dr. Bob

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    Disagree with the premise. In Acts, GOD added to the church. Man's programs/agenda didn't.

    A church might have little or no growth in numbers due to the demographics of a region. I pastored a church that grew in spite of a wide moving away from the area. We had to work hard to reach new folks (some newly saved, some coming as believers but from other denominations) to offset losses from the "exodus".

    Judging a church based on "numbers" is fraught with contingencies that we just don't know about.

    When I think of church growth, I look at the spiritual life of my people and NEVER tie it to aritificial numbers, soul winning, etc.
     
  6. chipsgirl

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    In some places a church simply can't grow in numbers becuase the town is so small. But like the list above there are all sorts of growth.
     
  7. Joseph_Botwinick

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    Exactly, Dr. Bob.

    [​IMG]

    Joseph Botwinick
     
  8. LarryN

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    Dr. Bob wrote:

    Exactly.

    A numerically large church may be "a mile wide, but an inch deep".

    A numerically small church may be "an inch wide, but a mile deep".

    Which one should you or I see as having the best "growth"?
     
  9. izzaksdad

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    For good reading on the thought: Effective Evangelistic Churches by T. Rainer.

    I have always been fascinated by church growth. In one sense, if we are being obedient to Christ command- Mt 28:16-20/Acts 1:8ff- as applied to the church, then we really have no option but to grow. On the other hand, Dr. Bob is right that numbers can be deceiving due to various reasons. I do believe that spiritual growth will lead to numerical growth in some sense. Not as easily recognized in the back hills as it is in the suberbs.

    I have done some pretty in-depth study into church growth, and there are several issues that stand out:

    1. Church that has high view of Scripture
    2. Church that has visionary, long tenured leadership(Pastor)that leads his people to do the work of the ministry
    3. Expositional Preaching
    4. Celebrative(sp?)worship
    5. Aggressive outreach AS WELL AS DISCIPLESHIP(assimilates new members well, and disciples the congregation)
    6. Strong prayer ministry
    7. Systematic bible study thru Sunday School/small groups (Sunday School is a priority in many growing churches)
    8. Very friendly and caring
    9. Consumed with carrying out the Church's Mission-Vision-Purpose- everything they do, they do to carry out their purpose (hence they have a very clear purpose statement or mission statement)
    10. There is no doubt or debate who the leader is (Pastor)

    - Just a few things that I have observed in church growth. certainly not exhaustive, and not necessarily in that order.
     
  10. Scarlett O.

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    I just can't necessarily associate numbers or activities with growth. Not always.

    Here's an example.

    My church had several families who left a few years ago.

    Not really a split, but they just...well, that's irrelevant.

    We were in the middle a $1,000,000 debt from sanctuary renovation, buying of a bus, and building a Sunday School building.

    The folks that left were the "money" people.

    Those of us left, who hold no ill will to them at all, were troubled.

    We decided instead of complaining about it and worrying ourselves sick that we would seek God.

    We felt that He wanted each of us to give in a very "sacrifical" manner for the next three years. In other words, increase our tithes and offerings in faith.

    We did it. Happily, I might add. Today, three years later the debt is paid, our numbers are even a tad smaller and we are preparing for a wonderful revival!

    Our numbers decreased, yet God increased us in our faithfulness and belief.

    We are not perfect. Not to be congratulated by any means.

    But that was growth.

    Peace-

    YSIC
    Scarlett O.
    &lt;&gt;&lt;
     
  11. izzaksdad

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    great growth I might add. it sounds to me as if you are already in a revival! fasten your pew belt scarlett!
     
  12. Pastor Larry

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    Why are these the only options? Why do we settle for so little. A church taht is not growing numerically is not carrying out the gospel mission. They may be spiritually knowledgeable, giving evidence of spiritual growth in other areas of their lives, but they are not carrying out the gospel mission. By the same token, a church that is growing numerically may not necessarily be growing spiritually.

    Let's no abandon numbers as if they are unspiritual. After, the Bible tells us the numbers of the early church. But let's not abandon them as they don't matter. They do. They are a measuring stick ... one of several.
     
  13. LarryN

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    I don't believe I presented these as being the only options. At least that wasn't my intent- perhaps I could have been clearer. I intended these to be the polar extreme options- nothing more, nothing less. Notice I did purposely include the word "may" in the choices, after all.

    Personally, I can think of several churches that I would categorize as being either "a mile wide, and a mile deep" or "an inch wide, and an inch deep" (and virtually any permutation of the two in between).
     
  14. Scarlett O.

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    Numbers are not a bad thing. Not an "unspiritual" thing at all. My church keeps records and gives an accounting every week of attendance, giving,...etc.

    But there in an inherent danger in using numbers as a church barometer.

    God punished King David for "taking a census". He had warned against it, even commanded against it and yet David did it anyway in his passion for proving he was competent in and of his own self.

    Why did God say don't count the people? Because you will place your faith in numbers and take solice in the "ups" and feel despair in the "downs".

    A church should rejoice when people are saved and added. A church can rejoice in any successful movement of God via programs or whatever.

    But a church must never place its faith in and take its next spiritual "cue" from a counting of the people.

    Numbers change. Drastically sometimes. Up or down. It doesn't matter.

    Faith never changes, because the God we place our faith in never changes.

    [​IMG] Peace-

    YSIC
    Scarlett O. [​IMG]
    &lt;&gt;&lt;
     
  15. donnA

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    In the bible God's plan is for churchs to grow. If a chuch isn't having salvation somethings wrong.
     
  16. chandler

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    Still, spritually mature Christians must be tied to winning souls, and then discipling them. Thus, if souls are won and discipled, then the church grows spiritually and numerically. You can not break this relationship. I feel many churches take the approach that just spiritual growth to be good church growth. It is the beginning of the process. The result of this is fruit, right? Jesus trained the disciples, empowered them with the Holy Spirit,and then said alright I'm done; no,the process did not stop there. He commanded them to go! God wants the church to be effective, and has given us all the tools necessary to do so. However, just because a church grows numerically doesn't always mean that the church is spiritually mature at all; for example the Word of Faith movement. Real church growth done the right way is very hard work; that is why so many pastors and churches feel comfortable with just "spiritual growth" and not adding souls to the kingdom.By the way real church growth is not transfers or statements it is evangelism!
     
  17. blackbird

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    A buddy of mine and I attended a church "growth" conference some time ago at one of the "Heavy"(numerical) churches in Jackson---the leaders would get up and talk about numbers----to the point of worshipping numbers!

    They said basically what some of these posters have shared---if you're not growing numerically---you ain't right with God---you're out of His will!

    This buddy of mine and I left depressed and on the ride home we tried to figure out how to make both our church grow numerically---

    Turns out---both of our church's were in a county here where 98% of the land mass is covered in pine trees---that's right---as in National Forest!! One of the most rural counties in the state----how are we gonna start runnin' 1000 in SS---when there ain't but 8500 people living in the county---and there are 24 Southern Baptist churches to split the numbers between---not to add all of the Methodist, Prysbyterians, Assemblies, etc---all "vying" for a portion of that 8500????

    Numerical growth was seen in the early part of Acts---but boys, do your homework---all of the numbers dealt with the Jewish conversions to the church----but interestingly---when Peter and Paul started church work among the Gentiles----not much is said of keeping track with exact numbers!

    Don't get me wrong! I like numbers! We baptized a record number this past year---a 10 year high in baptisms---praise the Lord!!! But for me???? Give me growth in holy living and spirituality and people denying self and giving God glory due His name!!

    I'd rather pastor a bunch of sheep in the wilderness area of Montana who live lives of holiness---over pastoring in downtown USA where you don't even have to halfway TRY to get a person to move their letter and yet the whole lot of the numbers could care less about holy living!!
     
  18. Gregory Perry Sr.

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    [​IMG] BlackBird...ya got some valid points there....and I for one think we need to look a little more closely at the lives of some of these "numbers" that we so frequently let into our churches without much "investigation".I'm NOT sure how we should do this scripturally...but I do feel certain that many of the folks that make a "profession" or that we allow to "letter" in may very well not be saved.I'm NOT the judge...and again...I'm NOT SURE how we should or could do this right...but I do believe that the local church is primarily for the edification of the saints and that we should be going OUT to win the lost and THEN bring them IN [​IMG] .I fear a lot of good pastors feel the need far too often to preach basic gospel messages when in fact they should spend more time feeding the REAL sheep.I'm NOT saying we shouldn't invite lost people to church...I'm just saying we should make every effort to WIN them before we get them in church.I'm sure we have at times allowed "ravenous wolves to enter in..."and thereby many internal church problems have taken root.Sound discipleship will root out a lot of that.JMO...and I don't profess to know-it-all.Ideas anybody?

    Greg Sr. [​IMG]
     
  19. chandler

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    We have to use common sense here. I, for one, would not expect yourcongregation to run the numbers you gave. For me to see that you had a record number of baptistms last year, I would say that your church is 1. growing spiritually and 2. growing numerically. I mean people are not going to appear. i for am from Batesville, MS graduated from Ole Miss and grew up in and sereved in rural churches. It is a lot tougher to "grow" churches there. Loooking at church growth numerically I would agree that are big wigs playing the political numbers game to gain a position or reputation in the convention. I fully believe that your church who had record baptisms last year and are in a very remote area or unpopulated area are doing the greatest work of the Kingdom. Please don't let what some political minded individuals deter from the scriptural facts. I happen to believe that from your statement your church is a spiritually mature church that is fulfilling the great commission; I commend you keep it up! However, holiness is not that only thing expected of us; we are to win souls and disciple them....as we do that we will add people to our church. There are many factors to look at as to whether a church is grwoing successfully. I believe there should not be one standard to judge all by. Each church is in a unique postion spiritually. I believe growth starts inside the hearts of the people, grows to maturity and flows outside the four walls of the church. As long as a church is on its way to fulfilling the great commission(whatever stage it may be in) it is a grwoing church. However we can not be comfortable with just holiness, or growing spiritually. Within the resouces and community that God has established a local church,we must do all we can to fulfill the commission that God hs given! I pray that pastors will not be turned off by this church growth mysticism but will turn to God's Word and understand what He has called us to do and how He measures success! Again, I commend you and the work that God has done through you, your church is a growing church in God's eyes mine.
     
  20. dh1948

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    Being a Landmark Baptist (ABA) during the early years of my ministry, I often attended local and state association meetings. A common practice in those days was to ask each pastor to stand and give a report on his church. Of course, the only part of the report that we were really interested in hearing was how many a pastor's church was having in Sunday School. There was always a sigh of relief to hear that some other church was having fewer people in SS than yours. (I'm just being honest!) To avoid the embarrassment of reporting that your church had declined in attendance since the previous year, the standard response...in such a case...was to say, "We had no additions last year, but we are holding our own." Even as a young pastor I found that to be an amusing assessment.

    I believe that every church can experience numerical growth every year. That growth can be relative to the size of its community. Not every church is located in a bustling metropolis where hundreds of thousands are unsaved and unchurched. (I just read that Saddleback baptized over 2000 last year!) But, even in a small rural community, there are a few people there who need to be saved. Just seems to me that any church could reach one person for Jesus during the course of a year. That one person...saved, baptized, and added to the fellowship...constitutes growth. My church is located in a rural county of 30,000. Each year we see an average of 40-50 people being saved and baptized. Several others join our church by transfer of membership, mostly from out-of-town churches. We seldom lose anyone by transfer of membership unless they are leaving our area. I consider my church to be a growing church. I am glad that we are not "holding our own." [​IMG]
     

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