References to: church
A discussion with Dr. Eddie Gibbs
Question: Church growth was a popular idea 15 or 20 years ago. It promised to halt the decline in congregations and turn things around. Why hasn’t it worked?
Just across the road from our home is a beautiful church. Many of our neighbors go there on Sunday morning to worship. My wife’s parents were married in that church, and her great grandfather donated the land on which it is built. I like the worship service. It is dignified and meaningful, and the congregation shares my preference for traditional hymns and music. The pastor is a good friend, and from time to time he has asked me to stand in for him.
What can we do to help the unchurched find their way home to the Father?
The most precious gift God has given us is our personal relationship with him. God knows us personally, and we know him. By God’s grace we are calmed by his presence in the midst of our difficulties. When everything and everyone else fail, we rest confidently in his loving care. During less troubled times, we soar like eagles on the updrafts of joy. There is nothing more important than this intimate relationship given us through Jesus Christ.
One Congregation’s Success Story in Reaching Out to Young People
Most churches want a way to reach young people. The congregation I pastor, The Shepherd’s Community Church in South Holland, Illinois, has had some good success in doing that. We have also made mistakes and learned a lot. Let me share some of our story to help you decide what might work for you.
What creates church growth? Are members responsible for growth of the body of Christ? Jesus used an analogy from farming to explain the manner in which the kingdom of God grows (Mark 4:26-29). Once the farmer plants the seed, it grows by itself. Although fruit comes through the miracle created within the seed, the farmer has to work hard to prepare the ground for productivity.
Most Christians are in small churches. Though megachurches usually get more attention, small churches are the backbone of Christianity. People are more likely to come to faith in a small church than in a megachurch.
Of all congregations in the world, most are small, averaging less than 100 people in attendance, so it is important to understand how small churches function. They are not miniature imitations of multi-ministry megachurches. Rather, they have a dynamic of their own, often a slower pace and a more friendly face.
During World War II, some posters displayed a stern Uncle Sam pointing and saying, “Your country needs you!” Many people responded to that challenge, going to work or to fight for the country even though they knew it would mean personal sacrifice and change of priorities. They responded because they believed in the cause they were fighting for.
The Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) states the purpose of the church. It involves going in order to make disciples, whom we are to baptize and teach. The Great Commission isn’t a stay-at-home project. We won’t catch fish unless we go to the water, and it doesn’t do any good to catch them if we just throw them back in. We need to go, and we need to make disciples.