Usually I cringe at a title like this. To me it either smacks of arrogance (as in how can someone actually think they know enough to make this claim) or it is all about some church growth formula (which in my opinion reduces the body of Christ to nothing but a mass marketing approach- which can be effective but at what cost?) Yet, here I am offering up this title. Why?
Obviously I am not smart enough to have it all figured out and I am not promoting another church growth formula. I just want us- the church- to focus on God. In sorting out and sorting through the efforts in which we engage to grow churches, very often I have noticed that God does not seem very prominent in the mix.
Does any of this sound familiar? – Do worship just right and you will grow! Get the right preacher and your church will double! Make sure your greeter program warmly greets guests even as they exit their cars and watch your church take off! Introduce seven people to seven others and then to seven more and all of a sudden, your church is exploding with growth!
Please don’t misunderstand. I am being a little-tongue-in-cheek here. I get the significance of making guests feel at home and the importance of assimilation and of a joyous worship experience. And while those things alone might attract more folks- real, lasting, solid, healthy church growth comes only from a focused God center.
How does a church really grow? Here is my opinion- we grow through:
- God’s Love. Since Jesus taught that love is the first and greatest commandment, we must start here. A church without love can have doctrine right but still not be healthy (See Revelation 2:1-7). Unless a church is saturated with God’s love there simply can be no solid foundation for healthy, long-term growth.
- God’s Presence. If we lose God in the shuffle of doing church then what have we really accomplished? God must ever be lifted up, honored, adored, loved and obeyed in his church. When we gather in big or small groups, he must be always acknowledged. This sounds like a given, but unfortunately it is not.
- God’s Word. Embracing God’s teachings as divine, inspired and authentic as revealed in his book, the Bible, it a cornerstone of any growing church.
- God’s Grace. The church is to be the most grace-filled place on earth. It is to be a place of refuge for the hurting and helpless. A place where sinners can find salvation without judgment. When this Christ-like spirit defines our church it will grow because we will be lifting up the very Son of Man. (John 12:32)
- God’s Peace. Churches filled with strife, mean-spirits and contentions will never experience healthy growth. We have been called to be peacemakers and to live in harmony with one another in Christ’s church. A church enjoying and promoting the peace that passes understanding will attract others seeking escape from the world’s turmoil.
- God’s Purity. There is absolutely nothing healthy or whole about the immoral shape of our sexually and ethically depraved culture. By modeling a pure lifestyle indicative of the indwelling of God’s Spirit, the church demonstrates heaven’s alternative and uplifting lifestyle as a light shinning on a hill. People will notice, be intrigued and discover the value of purity as God defines it. The church will grow.
To me- real growth is all about God. Neglect him and none of our efforts will produce the kind of healthy growth reflective of heaven.
So, does your church got God?
That should be the real church growth question.