09-22-2004, 09:19 PM
09-23-2004, 05:03 AM
This is why we need to ask the hard questions. When it comes to evangelism, just how are we doing? Do we pray for our churches to grow by means other than live births? How many adult baptisms have we witnessed? Do we even care about the fate of those who are perishing in their sins because they might be different from us? Are the members of our church all of the same race and socio-economic background? And what are we doing to make it easier for non-Christians and visitors to come to our services? These are real questions, and the church growth people are correct to ask them. It is too bad, however, that they sought answers to them from the culture, not from the Scriptures or the Reformed tradition.This to me is not fundamentally different than the church growth movement.... It is true we are not to go to the culture to answer these questions, but are these questions even asked of us by Scripture?
09-23-2004, 05:30 AM
Forgive me if I say this in ignorance, but it just sounds like more "churchianity" to me.
I don't disagree with the author's observations concerning these "movements" but it's really no surprise. It's not like we haven't had 2000 years of warning right under our noses.
09-23-2004, 08:00 AM
It does not say the questions are asked by Scripture. It says these questions are asked by the church growth movement. As with all questions we are asked we ought to respond for why we do things with Scripture.
Some of these questions actually are adressed in Scripture. In the early church the Jews wanted to Judaize the Gentiles. Many refused to eat with them and the unity of the church was lost. Even in our recent history the tendency has been among some groups to go out and evangelize but expect those from a different background to set up their own church after they have been converted. The Corinthian church was also told that they should make their services understandable to the unchurched.
09-24-2004, 10:12 AM
I am getting this train as it goes, in movement, so, if I trip forgive me... I will try to get into this subject.
I believe that there is tremendous misconception about "church growth" in America. Perhaps what we have is more akin to a "growth in the church" as those "growths" we used to get in our heads when we were boys.
The misconception lies on the distinction between "growth" and "swelling".
Most churches today "swell". This is NOT growing.
The pursuit of the highest common denominator often brings exactly the opposite, or, the cheapest and most comfortable way for us to comply with that which our "potential clients", who should be Christ followers, will be.
Swelling is when something grows out of its own self and limits. Swelling occurs when the body receives a blow and then it starts producing antibodies that in its turn "make the affected part" to appear bigger. Swelling is undesirable in spite of the fact that it may demonstrates that the body is functioning. It is functioning, however, in defense of something should not have happened in the first place.
Leaven is a swelling element. The Bible talks about the leaven of the pharisees, and when Paul talks about the "leaven thea leavens the whole lump" is is speaking exactly of a compromise to legalism on the part of supposedly Christians.
Leaven does not change the consistency of the lump; it does not improve the lump; it does not add any property to the lump. Its own purpose and finality is to make the lump to "swell".
However desirable this leaven may in in baking, it is totally inadequate when it comes to the leading of God's affair here on earth by the Ek-klesia.
The highest common denominator is actullay adding the leaven of compromise thus not growing but swelling. Some examples of swelling are:
There is a migration from "members" of other congregations to another congretation, who could not find the compromises that were fitting to them in their former congregation. That's not growth; it is swelling.
There is a "seeking" for a comfortable place to fulfill some religious obligations on Sundays, which is adequate to one's own predilections such as air conditioning, music style, whether is quiet or noisy, whether the nursery provides good care for children, whether the pastor is a "live and nice fellow" or he is stern and reads his 15 minutes sermon to lullaby his aging white headed church.
None of the above and any other one can add is real growth.
Growth occurs when the congregation is interested in doing what God has commissioned it to do as the Bible reveals, using methods that are strictly biblical and when availing itself from modern means, to do so not as a "hook" to motivate the uninitiated, but only as a conviction that such method is a tool given by God for HIS own purposes and goals.
Growth occurs when the body is aware of the fact that "narrow is the way and straight is the gate" and that God is the one who will ultimately add the numbers and that membership numbers are not the most important and probably not any important thing in growth.
Growth occurs when we learn that the body, as the human body, secrets that which is undesirable and if we keep it, we might not notice the stench, but God will.
Growth is sometimes better defined by what is not, hence the above explanations, especially because growth is what God calls growth and not our statistical books. It is not necessarily an addition of members.
Growth can be the maturing of a congregation. Growth can be the understanding the God NEVER called a sinner to go to "church" but, rather, HE calls His ek-klesia to go to sinners. Growth is when the real estate, the building, the facilities, the musical instruments, the method of worship, the nursery services are only and merely a fringe benefit of a congregation, but the uncompromised teaching of God's word is received with no regard by the charisma of the deliverer is the reason for attendance.
So, judging by the name of the Thread and a few readings of it, I agree with Ian that some of it is purely churchianity.
I know this post is not at all specific nor answers any question. Its purpose is simply to identify the distinction between "growth" and "swelling".
P.S. - I haven't been writing because I am, again, being assailed by compterites. Terrible relapse!