Myths About Growing Churches:
Myth # 1:
The Only Thing That Large Churches Care About Is Attendance:
The Truth Is, chances are you won’t grow large if that’s all you care about.
Attendance campaigns and advertising might attract some visitors, but they won’t stick around for long unless the church delivers something of value to them.
Acts 2:42-47) [GNB] They spent their time in learning from the apostles, taking part in the fellowship, and sharing in the fellowship meals and the prayers.
43) Many miracles and wonders were being done through the apostles, and everyone was filled with awe.
44) All the believers continued together in close fellowship and shared their belongings with one another.
45) They would sell their property and possessions, and distribute the money among all, according to what each one needed.
46) Day after day they met as a group in the Temple, and they had their meals together in their homes, eating with glad and humble hearts,
47) praising God, and enjoying the good will of all the people. And every day the Lord added to their group those who were being saved.
The first Christians fellowshipped, edified each other, worshiped, ministered, and evangelized. And the “Lord added to their group those who were being saved.”
Church growth is the natural result of church health.
Church health can only occur when the message is Biblical and the mission is balanced.
Five Dimensions of church growth:
- Churches grow warmer through fellowship.
- Churches grow deeper through discipleship.
- Churches grow stronger through worship.
- Churches grow broader through ministry.
- Churches grow larger through evangelism.
Myth # 2:
All Large Churches Grow at the Expense of Smaller Churches:
The Truth Is, some large churches do grow at the expense of smaller churches, but not all of them.
Rick Warren is most pleased about the fact that 80% of everyone attending Saddleback Church accepted Christ there and were baptized there.
God called us to be fishers of men, not to swap fish between aquariums.
Myth # 3:
You Must Choose Between Quality and Quantity in Your Church:
The Truth Is, quality will produce quantity.
Rick Warren defines “quality” this way:
- People are being genuinely transformed into the likeness of Christ.
- Believers are being grounded in the Word.
- Believers are maturing in Christ.
- Believers are using their talents in service and ministry.
- Believers are sharing their faith regularly with others.
He defines “quantity” this way:
- It’s the number of disciples a church is producing.
- It’s the number of people who are being brought to Christ, developed to maturity, and mobilized for ministry and missions.
In other words, quality refers to the kind of disciples a church produces and quantity refers to the number of disciples a church produces. With these definitions quality and quantity are not in opposition.
A church full of genuinely changed people will attract others.
When God finds a church that is doing a quality job of winning, nurturing, equipping, and sending out believers, He sends that church plenty of raw material.
Myth # 4:
You Must Compromise the Message and the Mission of the Church in Order to Grow:
The Truth Is, that most pastors of growing churches aren’t “selling out” the Gospel in order to attract people.
If that’s true, then:
- How about Jesus?
- How about the early church?
What attracted the multitudes to Jesus? What attracted them to the early church? The Gospel is good news! It has an attractive power when clearly presented.
Jesus, and the early church, attracted enormous crowds without compromising the thruth.
We have an “ambidextrous calling.”
On the one hand we are obligated to remain faithful to the unchanging Word of God.
On the other hand we must minister in an ever-changing world.
Acts 17:19-23) [GNB] So they took Paul, brought him before the city council, the Areopagus, and said, “We would like to know what this new teaching is that you are talking about.
20) Some of the things we hear you say sound strange to us, and we would like to know what they mean.”
21) (For all the citizens of Athens and the foreigners who lived there liked to spend all their time telling and hearing the latest new thing.)
22) Paul stood up in front of the city council and said, “I see that in every way you Athenians are very religious.
23) For as I walked through your city and looked at the places where you worship, I found an altar on which is written, ‘To an Unknown God.’ That which you worship, then, even though you do not know it, is what I now proclaim to you.
Myth # 5:
If You Are Dedicated Enough, Your Church Will Grow:
The Truth Is, it takes more than dedication to lead a church to grow; it takes skill.
Some argue that if your church isn’t growing the problem is a lack of dedication. They say, “If you just stay doctrinally pure, preach the Word, pray more, and be dedicated, then your church will explode with growth.”
Lots of small churches do these things without experiencing growth. It takes more than dedication to lead a church to grow; it takes skill.
Ecclesiastes 10:10) [NIV] If the ax is dull and its edge unsharpened, more strength is needed but skill will bring success.
[GW] If an ax is blunt and the edge isn’t sharpened, then one has to use more strength. But wisdom prepares the way for success.
[GNB] If your ax is dull and you don’t sharpen it, you have to work harder to use it. It is smarter to plan ahead.
Barb is a certified professional child care provider. She needs 12 hours of class every year to remain licensed.
I’m a Realtor. I need 33 hours of training every 3 years to remain licensed.
Saddleback has a number of professional pilots that fly for major airlines. They have to spend a week twice a year retraining and sharpening their skills. Lives are at stake.
1Corinthians 3:10-11) [GW] As a skilled and experienced builder, I used the gift that God gave me to lay the foundation for that building. However, someone else is building on it. Each person must be careful how he builds on it.
11) After all, no one can lay any other foundation than the one that is already laid, and that foundation is Jesus Christ.
Together let’s hone our skills.
Myth # 6:
There Is One Secret Key to Church Growth:
The Truth Is, church growth is a complex matter. It’s seldom caused by just one factor.
Rick Warren has identified a few basic facts about churches that his staff call “Rick’s Rules of Growth.”
- There is more than one way to grow a church.
- It takes all kinds of churches to reach all kinds of people.
- Never criticize what God is blessing.
Myth # 7:
All God Expects From Us Is Faithfulness:
The Truth Is, this statement is only half true. God expects faithfulness and fruitfulness.
- We are called by Christ to bear fruit (John 15:16).
- Being fruitful is the way we glorify God (John 15:8).
- Being fruitful pleases God (Colossians 1:10).
- Jesus reserved His severest judgment for the unfruitful (Matthew 21:19).
- The nation of Israel lost its privileges because of unfruitfulness (Matthew 21:43).
What is fruit?
- Repentance (Matthew 3:8; Luke 13:5-9)
- Practicing the truth (Matthew 7:16-21; Colossians 1:10)
- Answered prayer (John 15:7-8)
- An offering of money given by believers (Romans 15:28)
- Christlike character and winning unbelievers to Christ (Romans 1:13)
- Those who are won to Christ (1Corinthians 16:15)
Colossians 1:6) It’s the same all over the world. The Message bears fruit and gets larger and stronger, just as it has in you. From the very first day you heard and recognized the truth of what God is doing, you’ve been hungry for more.
Winning souls to Christ is fruit.
Myth # 8:
You Can’t Learn From Large Churches:
The Truth Is, one church should not try to replicate what another church has successfully done, but it should try to learn from its transferable principles.
What you can’t copy:
- We can’t transfer the context because each church operates in a unique cultural setting.
- We can’t replicate another church’s staff.
- I can’t be Rick Warren.
What we can learn:
- We can learn principles. Biblical principles will work anywhere.
- We can learn a process. Healthy churches are built on a process, not a personality.
- We can learn some methods. Methods are just expressions of principles.
The method must always be subservient to the message.
The primary issues of church health and growth:
- Who is our Master?
- What is our message?
- What is our motive?
The secondary issues of church health and growth:
- Who is our market?
- What are our models?
- What are our methods?
Walk of Grace Chapel, Council Bluffs Church