Summary: There ae many models of church growth. The right way is God’s way.
February 1, 2009
Text: Matthew 28:16-20
Subject: The Great Commission
Title: Growing the Church God’s Way
We moved to Palmyra on Saturday November 16, 2001. That preceding week we had been sent to Florida by our District to attend a boot camp for revitalizing a church. During that week we learned a lot about technique and not a lot about substance. Let me give you an example. One of the things that our instructors said was that the church needed to hold “non-worship” events in order to draw people in. That is supposed to provide an avenue through which people will come into the church. So we have hosted children’s outreaches, singing groups, have participated in community Lenten and Advent lunches, and have singspirations every month. We have tried to do the things that are supposed to attract people. But as I look around I don’t see anyone who came to this church and stayed because of some special event that was put on. Not that those things are bad – I think they are great – But for an evangelism tool in this community, they don’t seem to be effective.
I have also read reports, books, articles and studies about church growth. We all probably have our own ideas about what it takes to keep people coming to church. One report that I read focused on previously un-churched people who came to a church and stayed. I think that is a good way to find out what works – survey the people who got connected. Some of the findings would probably surprise you. Let me give you a few of the things that these people said were an important factor in getting them to stay in church. These are in no particular order. 1) The friendliness of the church. This may be a shock to some of you but though this is important it ranked only about #5 or 6 in the statistics. 2) The music. One thing the next generation is looking for is a style of music that they can connect with. 3) Children’s ministries. Young families are so family oriented that they want to know what programs there are for their children, i.e. Royal Rangers, Missionettes, or Youth Group. 4) The appearance of the church. Is it clean? Where are the restrooms? Does it look like the congregation cares? The physical state of the building may reflect the spiritual state of the congregation. 5) This may really surprise you because this was the number one reason for people to stay in a church – good solid biblical preaching and teaching from the pulpit.
Last week I filled out the annual church ministries report for General Council. In 2008 we had 21 decisions to accept Christ. Of those 21 only 6 remain in church today. So what is it that we are or are not doing to keep converts in the church? To see the answer to that question we don’t need to look any further than the scriptures.
Let’s turn to the Word to find the answer.
Lord open my eyes to see and my ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to the church.
Growing a church the right way.
I. JESUS’ PATTERN 16Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. Let’s look at the word “disciple” . It literally means a learner or student. Everyone who is a follower of Jesus Christ is considered to be a disciple. We discipline ourselves according to His teaching. Now here is the pattern. Jesus chose twelve out of all that were following Him. Luke 6:12-13, 12One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. 13When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: Here is the pattern that Jesus established. There were many who followed, but He knew that there had to be a more intimate connection in order for what He was teaching to be effective. That is why He chose twelve designating them as “apostles”. Jesus’ pattern was not just to teach. The pattern He established was to meet with this small group so they could have the opportunity to learn, to ask questions, and to just get to know Him better. This is the same pattern that we see between Paul and Timothy and Titus, Elijah and Elisha, Moses and Joshua. The mature believers took someone under their wing to help them be molded into what God wanted them to be. As the Holy Spirit begins to call people into the church it is our responsibility make not make converts only, but to make disciples. There are two parts to making disciples. 1) someone in the church has to be willing to take another aside and instruct them, encourage them, and challenge them. 2) new believers need to be willing to be discipled.