“Jesus’ teaching consistently attracted the irreligious while offending the Bible-believing, religious people of his day. However, in the main, our churches today do not have this effect. The kind of outsiders Jesus attracted are not attracted to contemporary churches, even our most avant-garde ones. We tend to draw conservative, buttoned-down, moralistic people. The licentious and liberated or the broken and marginal avoid church. That can only mean one thing. If the preaching of our ministers and the practice of our parishioners do not have the same effect on people that Jesus had, then we must not be declaring the same message that Jesus did.”~ Dr. Timothy Keller ~
Since it's inception, the church has struggled with the natural pull toward insiders. Acts 15 reveals this natural pull. Church history tells tales of this insider focus. Today, we struggle with the same natural pull and as a result we are less effective in reaching outsiders than we should be. So, how do we combat an insider focus? How can we continue to reach outsiders while at the same time minister effectively to those already inside our churches?
I believe one of the best ways to maintain a healthy tension between effectively reaching outsiders while ministering depth to insiders is by focusing on a balanced growth in these 9 areas.
- Grow Yourself - the leader must grow. John Maxwell says, "Everything rises and falls on leadership." It is true. When the pastor stops growing the church will stop growing. It is therefore imperative that the leader continually grow.
- Grow Your Leadership Team - the staff and chief volunteers must grow. It has been said that "One is too small a number to achieve greatness." If this is true, and I certainly believe it is, then it is vital our teams grow as well. This is only possible if there is an intentional leadership development. It doesn't just happen.
- Grow Your Systems - as the organization grows the systems must grow with it. Systems don't grow churches, leaders do. But poor systems can certainly hinder churches from growing.
- Grow Your Numbers - numerical growth should be expected. While many place their sole focus on numerical growth, it is only one of the 9 areas that must grow. At the opposite end of the spectrum their are some who minimize the importance of numbers, yet Jesus and the disciples seemed to think it was important. They counted everything. There were 12 disciples, 70 in the inner circle, 500 at his ascension, 120 in the upper room, 3000 were saved in Peter's first sermon, and of course the feeding of the 5000. You get the point.
- Grow Your Income - the finances of the church must grow. Having an abundance of finances certainly doesn't guarantee your church will grow, however, a lack of finances will hinder your church's ability to grow.
- Grow the Expectations of your people - do your people come expectant to your services? Have you ever noticed that their seems to be a deeper anointing on the worship at a conference than what you experience during a regular Sunday morning service? I certainly have witnessed that. I believe it has little to do with the quality of the musicians and everything to do with the expectancy of the congregation. When people come expectant to receive, it draws on the anointing of God. The greater the expectancy, the greater the anointing.
- Grow Your Facilities - your facilities must expand with the growth of your church. Church growth experts say that when your facility has reached 80% capacity, your church will stop growing. This is true of the sanctuary size, the space in your children's ministry, and the parking lot. Having a large facility doesn't guarantee numerical growth, but having one that is too small will stop your church from growing.
- Grow in the Word - your church must grow in understanding and in the practice of the Bible. The Word of God is a "lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path." Without an ever increasing knowledge and passion of the Word, a church will lose it's focus and direction.
- Grow in the Spirit - your church must grow in the experience and power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus told his disciples to wait to start the church on this earth until they had received the Holy Spirit. What makes us think we should do church today without His presence and power to guide us?
Over the next number of blogs, I will dig deeper into each of these 9 areas of growth and will show how increasing in each of these areas will help churches manage the tension between reaching outsiders and caring for insiders.
Question: Which of these nine areas is your church's weakest link?