Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Church Growth


I am concerned and bugged! What else is new? I am at an event that wants to reach out to the city with an evangelistic campaign. I so desire to reach our friends, neighbors and city for Christ, but I am at a loss as to how we can accomplish the goal.

But this is why I am posting today. I am looking for feedback regarding the concept of our churches and what we call 'church growth.' Ron Kydd, Associate Professor of Church History of Tyndale Seminary has mentioned that in Canada, it's believed that for every new covert in your church that 10 people transfer from another. That is NOT church growth! I so agree.

So why is it that people are jumping from church to church (people come and people go and then they come back again) only to see that the stats tell us that the majority are NOT bringing non believers with them?

Is there a correlation between us going to church and being a part of a faith community and sharing our faith?

In Canada, are we just lazy Christians and we are expecting others to "win people" while the rest jump from church to church to "have their own needs met?"


Thoughts?

7 comments:

Nichole said...

I think people church hop for a variety of reasons but most of those reasons come down to one root issue ... they feel that their own needs aren't being met. If a person does not feel heard, seen or respected at their church they will hop from one congregation to another looking for that sense of belonging. Sometimes this is a genuine void in a church but often times its a lack of maturity in the person.

We all have things we like and don't like about our church and pastor, we are all human, even our pastor, so they are bound to offend, make mistakes and mess up from time to time. The key is to look at the big picture. Do you agree theologically with this church, do the messages from the pulpit align with what you see in the congregation and do they resound with you?

If so, then buckle down and get to work. Make that church your home. Stop looking at how the church can meet your needs and start thinking about how you can help the church fulfill its vision and win souls. If you are busy working with your team to make an impact for Christ your own needs will automatically be met. Look outside yourself to the people in your circle of influence, coworkers, neighbors and friends. invite them to join you at church. Pick them up and take them out for coffee afterwards. Don't preach to them, allow the experience of meeting in the presence of God speak for itself. Be a real person and not a churchbot.

Church growth, in its truest sense is a heart issue, its about changing hearts and lives ... not a selfish search for the place that makes you feel good about yourself.

My random two cents :-)

RosalieG said...

To be optimistic, church services are to teach and equip Christians, so I would hope that even if they are jumping that they are being equipped as they need to be in order to reach those around them. i.e. it isn't so much about who shows up on a Sunday as to how those who show up are touching lives in their day to day lives.

Personally, I have taken all I've been blessed with and ministered on chatlines and prayed the sinners prayer with many. Sometimes the very things I was taught in church are the very things these individuals needed to hear. I have been amazed at how a Scripture is on my "tongue" when I've needed it, because I was reminded of it in church. This is how the word doesn't not return void. Even messages by you Gerry!

These same people won't just start going to a church, I've noted either. For some, the chatline is their church.

So much of my ministry to the community is virtually. I need my church to not fatten me, but to keep me going and to impart wisdom to me to share.

thinker said...

I'm glad I dont' have your job! This question would make me crazy. But my thoughts are that we are lazy and immature. We are children and the western church does not teach us to grow up. We are not trained and expected to go out and disciple. We are coddled and spoon-fed. Just as boys often do not have a proper transition to manhood and remain boys in adult bodies. Christians are led along the same way. This is so systemic that the vasy majority of church going Christians falls into this stereotype. We are soft and trained to sit and be entertained. Our eyes are turned inward for the most part, not outward. When you decide to live for something, really live, outside of yourself this is where you begin to grow and change. Most people in a church community like it in that community and stay there. They are encouraged to have a ministry, inside that community. It feels good and is easier than one that is outside the community, or evangelical. And we tend to do what is easy and feels good. Are we all made to be soul-winners? I don't think so...but we need to have a dedicated group of them in every body. Almost like a specially trained force. That group can be focused on bringing em in, the rest can work at the systems needed to grow and nurture the body in general.

Luanne said...

I feel a need to comment on two separate things with this post.

I'm of the mind that there need to be different kinds of churches in order to 'be heard' by many different types of ears. The message needs to be the same, but it doesn't always have to be delivered the same. God makes us all unique, and because of that, different styles resonate differently with different people. Personally... I don't think it's the 'popular vote,' but I have less problem with moving from church to church to find a place where one is moved to grow.

As far as bringing new people to a belief in God, I maybe wimping out... but I can't get past the best way of doing that is by choosing to act in a way that will draw people to me. To treat others with respect - regardless of their life, to be a safe person to talk to - regardless of their insecurities, to make people feel welcome - regardless of their popularity. And to honestly share my life challenges with them - how I'm trying to live my life as a Christian and how that sometimes has its own challenges. And to explain the little bits of Christianity that I know and ask them how they would handle these challenges if they were in my boots.

I'll admit that I wimp out on asking people to church with me.

That said, if someone were open and wanting to go see "what this is all about" and they know who I authentically am... I'd like to think they would invite themselves along with me. They already know that I'll not laugh at them, I'll make sure they feel comfortable and safe, and they already know my beliefs. I'm most likely the safest person for them to approach.

Jean said...

We left our church because of a disagreement with the pastor. We find that his strong words and attitude make it difficult to have an open conversation because his sharp tongue prevented us from speaking (getting a word in). He had stated from the pulpit that if you don't agree with him, there are many other churches for you to go to.
We loved our church, its vision and its people. We were very involved within its community. However,when believers cannot agree (such as Paul and Barnabas), sometimes it is better to split and go another direction.

Anonymous said...

Is it perhaps that WE are trying to 'win' others with our events and other methods (and all of these methods might be good) but in reality it is GOD who 'wins' people when WE follow HIS plan!

gilles said...

Needs, differences and life changes all play a part, but I agree centrally with what 'anonymous' says: that growth is primarily a Spiritual issue.

God is at work in us, both to 'will and to act' for His good pleasure. We feel more or less inclined at particular stages and moments in our lives to act in God's best interest. We fail. We succeed. In Paul's words: 'I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.'1 Cor 3:6,7

We, in and of ourselves don't amount to much. We are as a body perhaps:

'...from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.' Eph 4:16

According to this verse however, growth is what each and everyone of us can offer. This much we need to know: who we are and what we can offer as individuals, and putting it into action - not sooner or later - but now. If not, there is no growth.

As fickle as we might be in both leading people to Christ rather than feeding our own or shuffling our congregants from one church to another, there is growth if we know and apply our gifts to the tasks of doing Church. It's not a question of local church growth, but the Church growth, the big 'C' Church. As one church grows lean and another gets fat, the Church at large grows - if we apply our gifts to the task. That is our responsibility.

So if you jump ship, make sure it's because you can't honor God where you're at - that sounds to me like the only good reason to move on.

And if your local church growth is an issue, make sure people have a voice to speak up. Seedlings press through the earth, baby chicks smash through their shells, and butterflies (alias the caterpillar) rip through their cocoons - all to make their way into life. In like manner, we sound our way into the life of Christ - the blind man yelling for Christ's attention, the the ill woman stealing (the pastor's take) her healing, and the Samaritan woman (dog) who settled for crumbs beneath the tables of the children of God. Life comes to the desperate and the marginalized on the fringe (tassel?).

Give them a voice, and they will find their way into church life, and growth is inevitable - it may just not be in house, but next door. We can always go visit and share ideas. How about a parachurch... a metachurch. That could be growth.

gilles lamoureux
a new Soul Sanctuary voice