YOUR CHURCH CAN GROW*
Qualities of Church Growth Leaders:
1. Single-minded obedience (hard work). Church growth leaders are willing to pay the price for doing whatever is necessary to obey and fulfill God’s Great Commission. They are fully aware that a steward’s faithfulness will ultimately be evaluated by the result of his efforts.
2. Clearly defined objectives (set goals for growth). Leaders understand the will of God for world evangelization. They are willing to set measurable goals and to allow their success or failure to be evaluated in the light of these goals. They reject counting “decisions for Christ” and are interested in making disciples, those who are committed and responsible members of the church.
3. Reliance on discerning research (intelligent planning). Leaders should rely on facts and should plan intelligently for church growth through research.
4. Ruthlessness in evaluating results (no “sacred” programs). Leaders should be pragmatic and be willing to revise or scrap evangelistic methods that do not produce results. An activist will not be passive and “leave the results to God” as the church shrinks.
5. An attitude of optimism and faith (contagious confidence). Leaders are not afraid to be called “triumphalists.” They are convinced that Christ is building His church and are certain that the gates of hell will not prevail against it. They pray for conversions in large numbers.
There are Seven Vital Signs of a Healthy Church:
1. The pastor. In America the primary catalytic factor for growth in a local church is the pastor. The pastor of a growing church has special gifts of leadership to lead in growth. He is a possiblity thinker whose dynamic leadership motivates the entire church for growth. Among the people there is a high degree of love and esteem for him. Pastoral authority is a vital ingredient for growth, as long as it does not become outright dictatorship.
2. The people of the church. A well-mobilized laity is the vital sign of a growing church. Biblical gifts determine where everyone serves best.
*Your Church Can Grow by C. Peter Wagner, G/L Regal Books, 1976
3. Church size. In order to grow, a church must be big enough. Growing churches are large enough to provide the variety and quality of services that members have come to expect. A church with 400 members is big enough to be effective.
4. Structure and function. Quality of celebration depends upon size. A game played before a large stadium full of people is more exciting. A service should be more of a festival than a funeral. There should be dynamic, moving, uplifting worship so that people go home knowing that they have had a meeting with almighty God. A large Sunday School will hold the church together when a pastor resigns. Congregational polity will make every member feel involved, because everyone can have an active voice in church affairs. Small groups will make for deeper interpersonal relationships. Ministries will make people feel loved and wanted.
5. Homogeneous unit. A growing church is composed of basically one kind of people. People like to associate with other Christians without crossing racial, linguistic, or class barriers. There is mutual interest between “our kind of people,” and also, “birds of a feather flock together.” Separate ethnic groups are generating new internal strength around their ethnicity. People who leave their ethnic groups feel that they are committing ethnic suicide - losing their culture and heritage.
6. Methods. A church should pick an evangelistic method that works for them. It may be visitation, witnessing training, bus ministry, parochial school, media broadcasts, evangelistic crusades/revivals, neighborhood Bible studies, etc.
7. Priorities. To the degree that churches allow social reform to be the top priority, their potential for growth is reduced. Social services are usually duplicated by government programs, but only the church can meet the ultimate human need to know God personally. Dealing with controversial topics in the pulpit should be avoided. Activism increases frustration and hurts growth. People do not see the church as the place to get instruction in women’s issues, art and music appreciation, or political causes to support.
Quotations from the Book:
Being filled with the Spirit does not mean stopping using one’s mind. (p. 37)
God made humans in His own image with minds that are rational...Using the mind...brings science into the picture. (p. 38)
Natural science...social science...church growth science... (p. 39)
All science ultimately has its origin in God. Scientific theories help us understand God’s creation better. (p. 40)
A scientific approach is not usually stressed in either theological seminary or liberal arts college...a useful way of looking at what God is doing in the world. (p. 41)
Remnant theology... is satisfaction in being a minority despised by unbelievers. (pp. 47, 162)
Timidity in setting goals: ...failure can be avoided by aiming at nothing. (p. 51)
The personality of the church is based on the ideals and personality of the pastor. He should be a strong leader, loved by his people, a possibility thinker, a motivator. (Ch. 4)
Church staff should be chosen for their specific talents and training to fit specific jobs. This will avoid overlapping jobs and jealousy. (p. 61)
Strong leadership is not dictatorship. Growth requires an ascendancy of pastoral authority over congregational democracy. (p. 62)
(Comment: A benevolent dictatorship is the best form of government, but since power corrupts, it is hard to maintain dictatorial benevolence. There must be a limit of power.)
Get rid of bulky and cumbersome committee structure. (p. 65)
Leadership assertion: A pastor should expect allegiance by all individuals and organizations in his church. (p. 67)
Pentecostals have emphasized biblical gifts. (p. 70)
The first responsibility of every Christian is to discover which of the gifts God has given him. (p. 73)
Not every Christian is an “evangelist.” (p. 75)
Every Christian has the role of “witness.” (p. 76)
Usually 10% of the membership has the gift of evangelist. (p. 77)
The nurture of new converts...is equally important as their conversion. (pp. 79, 141)
Older, more mature Christians are less effective as witnesses. They have fewer contacts with lost people, live different life styles, and find it hard to communicate with unsaved people. (p. 81)
The highest potential for evangelism...comes from new converts who still have many natural bridges to unsaved friends and relatives. (p. 83)
In order to grow, a church must be big enough to provide the variety and quality of services that attract people. (p. 85)
Drive-in church, neighborhood Bible study, television, visitation, parochial school, evangelism explosion (p. 135)
Open church: mixed ethnic and social groups (p. 93)
Body life: free form testimonial services (p. 93)
Charismatic: Spirit emphasis (p. 93)
Uplift worship: every detail planned for greatest spiritual effect (p. 95, 99)
Seminars, crusades, rallies (p. 101)
Bus ministry, “soul,” avant-garde worship format (p. 117)
Purpose of new missions: planting new churches with our philosophy of ministry (p. 94)
Worship should be celebration: large group praise with the spirit of a football game (p. 97)
Circles of Concern:
Citizenship circle: Christendom (p. 122)
Membership circle: church body
Fellowship circle: small congregation, small class - 250 max.
Kinship circle: cell group (p. 107)
A Sunday School class should become a congregation, with its own deacons, committee, and pastor. (p. 106)
Joining a “congregation” (Sunday School class) should be a membership requirement for joining a church. (p. 107)
A growing church is made up of “one kind of people,” a homgeneous unit. (p. 110)
“Sunday morning worship is the most segregated hour in America.” This should not create guilt. (p. 112)
Forcing a person to change his culture before becoming a Christian is to be a “Christian Judaizer.” (p. 119)
Messianic Judaism maintains Jewish culture. (p. 120)
“Edifice complex:” the desire for more and better church buildings. (p. 127)
Intellectuals make up a distinct ethnic group. (p. 130)
Each cultural group needs to develop a church where they can feel at home and where they will want to invite their friends. (p. 134)
Evangelistic methods...can degenerate to the point that ungodly methods are used. (p. 136)
Evangelism must be more than proclamation of the Gospel; it must unite people to churches. (pp. 141, 143)
If we sanctify the past forms and place them on a pedestal beyond the range of criticism, we will not even begin to look for the new forms. (p. 144)
Pastors should not be controversial in the pulpit. (p. 148)
The church is unique in that it is the only organization that leades people to be saved. People can go to other groups for other social needs, but to be saved they must go to church. Therefore, the church’s primary emphasis should be evangelism. Social work is secondary. (pp. 148-151, but see pp. 79, 141)
Social work is also needed. It is not true that “saved souls will change society.” (p. 157)
The church should stick to social service and leave social action (political) to other organizations. (p. 158)
CHARACTERISTICS OF AN EFFECTIVE CHURCH
LAY INVOLVEMENT & COMMITMENT
MINISTRIES & MISSION
PROGRAM & ORGANIZATION
VISIBILITY & ACCESSABILITY
FACILITIES & PARKING