By Not Known
As we continue our journey to grow as God works in our lives, we need to look into some areas to spur and “stir one another to love and good deeds.” I had the opportunity to visit a number of churches some years ago and as part of my preparations in teaching a course at SBC, I did some research into church growth.
One of the many questions that growth strategists often ask is this: If a church is truly growing spiritually, could it ever be possible that the number of members be decreasing? The rationale behind this question is that true discipleship growth is tough, so tough that there would inevitably be some who would not be able to keep up with it. On the other hand, many (numerically) growing churches may not actually have members growing spiritually. That was an interesting observation for me.
I would like to take some time to share some observations with you. It may take more than a couple of Pastoral Messages before I conclude my musings on this but let’s start with four of them.
1. Prayer. A praying church is a growing church. Much as many of us have protested that the church’s prayer meeting should not be a sign of the church’s spirituality, it is nevertheless true that when a church is serious about coming together to pray whether at the church’s Prayer Meeting, or in small groups, or forming small groups to pray just prior to church services – it is a sign of members serious about bringing their petitions to God. More than that, I have found that praying churches have prayers centred on evangelism and ministry opportunities. For instance, members are praying for the evangelistic Bible study at their workplaces, or for attendees at the Christianity Explained classes, or for their EE outreach teams, or for those involved in PACE, etc. A church praying to reach out is a sure sign of a church on the move and fervent in discipleship. This can only be because they had been properly discipled and understood the urgency of proclaiming the Gospel of Christ.
2. Missions. A growing church is a church filled with people hearing and responding to the call to missions or to pastoral ministries. The last time ORPC sent anyone into full-time missions work or for preparation for pastoral ministry was at least five years ago. Has God not called? Or are our hearts slow to respond? When more are wondering: “Is God is calling me to…”, that’s when we know we are on that growth track.
3. Funeral attendance. This is an interesting observation and I believe is definitely something to do with spiritual maturity. That young people in church are voluntarily attending funerals of older members out of love and concern because they feel part of God’s family. In other words love transcend age groups.
4. Older members. At the same time, older members in the church are showing greater responsibility in outreach and ministry. They are not just wrapped up about health issues or more fellowship to reminisce about the past. Instead, more and more are beginning to want to be involved in evangelism and volunteering to serve in ministries to support outreach work.