Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Growing a Church... 'God made it grow!'

I am often asked by church leaders how to make a church grow. On the basis of my experience and from the best of my knowledge I attempt to provide them with advice that will encourage them in the noble task of leading God’s church. So, it is important to state at the outset of this blog series on this important topic that only God makes things grow! Although there might be times when we can hinder growth, Paul says clearly in 1 Corinthians 3:6, ‘I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow’.

Once this has been stated and acknowledged we need to take seriously another fact - that God has chosen us to partner with Him in the great task of building His church! I firmly believe that God desires His church to grow, both in spiritual depth and also numerically. I live in a big city and, as I look at the communities around our part of London, I am convinced that we need some churches that can reach thousands of people. This does not mean that I think that God loves a larger church over a small one, that’s not the character of the God I love and serve.

My own observation is that many churches do not reach their potential in God because there is a serious underestimation of the importance of leadership and structural change to facilitate God-desired growth. Recently I heard Dave Smith who leads KingsGate Peterborough say, rather provocatively, that the difference between a church of four hundred and one of a thousand is the word ‘management’. That the term management still gets so much bad press in Christian circles continues to amaze me!

If we want to reach more people for Christ we will need to learn how to lead in a different way than we have to date. Exodus 18 recounts that Moses discovered this, following advice from the first management consultant in the Bible (just joking…!). He follows Jethro’s advice and re-engineers the leadership structure of God’s people in order to be able to care for the ever-growing number.

In this next series of blog postings I am going to outline some key themes and factors which we have found worked well at King’s Church, here in the great city of London. As I say in my book Good to Grow,

King’s... reflects my style and flavour of leadership, and the biblical values which are precious to us.... This is not the only way to lead a growing church. (p191)

Having said that, I hope that some of the lessons we have learnt along the way will be of help to you! We will look at topics such as church size matters, growth engines, Sundays, integration, community, leadership, team, raising money and the importance of vision.

Lastly, I want to say that a growing church is normally a healthy one. At King’s this health is reflected in the church’s prayer life, the generosity of His people, our amazing mercy ministries and includes embracing the challenges of building a church that is diverse in culture and age. It’s not all about numbers - but it is good to grow!