Church Growth Tricks

I'm still not feeling well. I'm pretty sure it is the flu.

So I've asked another good friend of mine, Greg Laurie, to write my blog today. (In case you don't really know it, I'm not friends with Soren Kierkegaard or Greg Laurie. I just read their books.)

Here is what he had to say.

Recently I was at a gathering with some other pastors. Many of them were expressing frustration with the lack of numerical growth in their churches and were trying to figure out how to make their churches larger. One of them said, "My feeling is whatever works, and if it pleases God, that is what I want to do."

I said, "You know, I don't want to be nitpicky, but I really have to correct that statement. It's not whatever works. It is whatever is pleasing to God. Period."

If it's pleasing to God, it will work.

God can meet the needs of our generation with or without a lot of spiffy marketing techniques to help Him out. At best they're optional. But what the church can never do without is God's own blueprints.

If there was ever a church growth plan that worked, it was the one used by the first-century church. Talk about numbers. Talk about effectiveness. This church exploded. Why? Becaus the believers knew why they were there and what they were supposed to do.

Eventually this little church scattered, divisions came, and persecution forced perseverance and, ultimately, growth. They certainly weren't perfect Christians or problem-free churches. However, when we talk about the upside-down church descreibed in Acts, we're seeing the Origina Plan in action. The apostles' letters to the churches complete the picture.

In the rest of this book I want to focus on that picture. What are the principles ofr "doing church" God's way? What should a world-changing body of believers really look and feel like? And what can we expect to see happen in our own congregations if we get it right?

In chapter 2, we quoted Acts 2:42-47, which describes the first church. In this passage we find four foundational qualities:

1. They were a worshiping church.
2. They were an evangelizing church.
3. They were a learning church.
4. They were a loving church.

Greg Laurie also had the following to write.

In a recent article entitled "The Myth of Church Growth," published in Current Thoughts and Trends, David Dunlap cites some troubling statistics. For example, at the very time megachurches have sprouted across the landscape, the proportion of Americans who claim to be "born again" has remained a constant 32 percent.

According to Dunlap, growth isn't coming from conversions but from transfers; they account for up to 80 percent of all growth taking place today. He goes on to quote C. Peter Wagner, one of the leading spokesmen for the movement, who admits, "I don't think there is anything intrinsically wrong with the church growth principles we've developed...yet somehow they don't seem to work."

I would suggest that one reason they don't work is that they tend to approach church as if it were a business. But a business-driven respons may only make things worse. In the long run, if we train people to be consumers instead of communers, we'll end up with customers instead of disciples. It might fill up an auditorium, but it'll never turn the world upside down for Christ.

I would like to thank my friend Greg for these words today. Next week I hope to be in better health and will write things that are on my mind.

Until then, click on the Amazon links on the left and by Greg Laurie's Upside Down Church. It is one of the best church leadership and structure books I have ever read.

And watch out for the potholes.