Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Growing a church... Reach the lost, build the church...

…Build the church, reach the lost. You have to have these two things in balance because if you first reach the lost and you’re not building the church, then you won’t contain the growth. The issues around this point would be those of leadership capacity and facility size - issues that generally come with growth.  Leaders, at this point you need an ability to multiply yourself, work through others, build team - and of course you need to have the gift to realise hundreds of thousands of pounds as well.  That is the leadership challenge!   

I think many leaders build and hope to reach.  Our philosophy at King’s has been to turn that upside down and say, ‘let’s reach and then we’ll build’.  I even think that’s how the book of Acts is written! It is missionary at its heart - with the apostles running around after gospel breakthrough trying to ‘fill in’ behind it, ensuring converts are baptized in the Holy Spirit and teaching them. Paul committed himself, in one context, to teach in one place for 2 years.  To me, it’s what apostolic ministry is about. We are an apostolic movement committed to reaching out beyond the gathered community and then bringing all the spiritual gifts to bear behind that. 

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

We've got to reach people...

Luke 19:10 says “For the Son of Man came to seek and save that which was lost”.  Church life should have at its very heart this sense of ‘we’ve got to reach people’ - that’s the heart of the Great Commission and the Great Commandment.  My own conviction is that as pastors, we have historically tended to lean towards building the church, caring for the saints and teaching them - and rather less towards reaching people. 

Some of us would say that pastoring is our primary gift - that’s extremely valid but if we’re going to make the church an effective outreach family, my conviction is that we have to intentionally lean towards outreach because churches have a tendency to turn in on themselves. If as a leader you’ve got a teaching or pastoring bias in your own gifting, that combination is likely to mean that the gradient of your church will be towards excellent care and going deeper and deeper in the Word and we’ll know more and we’ll be well equipped and well taught but - are we seeking and saving the lost?  For some of you this will raise questions about your primary gifting and make you examine how you shape your whole leadership structure. 

Our own story is that I arrived at King’s about 15 years ago.  The church had been in some decline over the previous 10 years, it had gone from 300 to about 150 and the building was falling down.  I arrived and during that first 15 months the church didn’t grow.  Everyone that joined was matched by someone who left because they didn’t like my leadership style… then after about 15 months we began to grow and that growth has continued.  We’ve grown from, on average, 200 in attendance to about 1200 on a Sunday morning.

During that time we sent 30 of our members to plant into South Central London and then a further 10 went to support Stuart Gibb at the Greenwich church plant. We believed it was right to do that and we did this even while we were looking for a 10% average increase at King’s. We balance these two elements - build the church and reach the lost.  

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!

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Great by Choice!

I’m just finishing reading the new Jim Collins book Good by Choice – and I’m loving it. Regular readers of this blog will know that I’m a big fan of Jim Collins and his books - two previous books by him - Good to Great and Good to Great for the Social Sector - are ones that I highly recommend to the leaders who come to my coaching sessions. This one is up there too! Get hold of it and read it – I defy you not to be impressed!