Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Sept 2013 Church growth

Church growth I once planted grass in my backyard. I plowed the ground. I fertilized it. I seeded it. I watered it. Then I waited. And waited. Ever day I would go in the back to see if anything had grown. First day - nothing. Second day - nothing. “Why did it take so long?” Finally, a week later, I saw the first sprouts. Hallelujah! I was so happy. One of the things I had to learn was that I could not make the lawn grow. It was God who made the grass grow. Having said that, however, there was much I could do to inhibit growth. If I did not fertilize or water it, it would not grow. Any number of things could inhibit its growth. My job was to do things which fostered its growth. The same goes for a church. Only God can make us grow, but it is good for us to make sure that we are doing everything we can to foster that growth. It is good for us to stop doing things which might inhibit growth. So what are the things which foster growth? What are the things which inhibit growth. The Institute for Natural Church development studied 1000 different churches. They examined the quality of the life within the church as well as numerical growth. What was amazing was that out of all the characteristics of churches they studied, only eight characteristics differentiated growing and declining churches. 1. Empowering leadership – People encouraged to discover their gifts and empowered to use them. Ministry done by the group rather than a few. 2. Gift-oriented ministry – People serve where their gifts are. 3. Passionate spirituality – Members practice their faith in their daily lives with joy and enthusiasm. 4. Functional structures – The purpose of church is to serve the people rather than people serving the church. 5. Inspiring worship service – Traditional or contemporary worship made no difference. Rather the key question was “Was it inspiring?” 6. Holistic small groups – People supporting one another to be disciples, to live out our faith in all aspects of their daily lives. 7. Need-oriented evangelism - Focus was on the needs and questions that non-Christians ask rather than pressuring them to “be more like us.” 8. Loving relationships – People do not want us to talk about love, they want to experience how Christian love really works. The weakest level attained, limited the growth of the church. Amazingly enough they found that churches which were above-average in all eight grew, independent of location or environment. Wow! Great thoughts to ponder about our own church as we seek to grow both in quality and number. God bless you, Pastor Okubo

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