12 December, 2005

Where is the Church Growth?

This morning I was talking with a friend of mine who pastor’s in another state and we got to discussing church growth, or more precisely, the lack of it.
He asked me, “Why is it that no matter what we do, we are not seeing any real church growth?”

I hear people say we’d have growth if we had more signs and wonders in our services.
Others say we need more programs. “If we only had a better youth ministry.” “If we had a seniors ministry.” “If we had a ministry for the single m0m’s… then our church would grow.”
The truth is, each one of these would probably help, and we do need these in our church… but I am convinced that is not the answer to the question, “Why are we not seeing any real church growth?”

My response is one that none of us wants to readily admit, but it is in fact the truth. I said, “Our churches are not growing because we are not sharing our faith with others.”

2 Corinthians 5:19 in The Living Bible says;

"THIS IS THE WONDERFUL MESSAGE HE HAS GIVEN US TO TELL OTHERS."

Think about this: If we found a source where we could go and ask, and they would pay off all of our debt, not only would we go, but we would tell everyone we knew and loved about this great source we had found.
Wouldn’t we?

Well, is this not what we have found in Christ?
Why are we not telling others?

I have thought on this question all morning, and this is my narrowed down list that I come up with:

We don’t share our faith with others because:

(1) We're not sure of it. (OUCH!)

(2) We don't know how.

(3) We fear rejection.

And here’s something we really need to think about:
Not one of these reasons will be acceptable when we stand before God.

Paul writes, "[My] life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work assigned to me by the Lord Jesus the work of telling others the Good News about God's mighty kindness and love" (Acts 20:24 TLB).

You know what? You don't have to be an eloquent speaker; you just have to share the story!

What story?

Listen: "God was in Christ, restoring the world to himself, no longer counting men's sins against them but blotting them out. This is the wonderful message he has given us to tell others" (2Co 5:19 TLB).

Why would God leave us on earth with all its pain, sorrow and sin, after we accept Christ?
Why didn't He just take us to heaven?
After all, we can worship, fellowship, pray, sing, hear God's Word, and even have fun in heaven.

The fact is, there are only two things we can't do in heaven that we can do on earth:
Sin and witness to unbelievers.

You don't have to convince or convert anybody; just share with them the answers you've found to the questions they're facing, and let the Holy Spirit take it from there.

That’s it! Nothing more, nothing less.

God does not ask you to stand and preach a three point sermon, or prepare a theological discourse. All that is needed is for believers to tell those we come in contact with that we have found the answer, and simply share what Christ has done for you!

12 comments:

michigan preacher said...

Amen to that, Darrell. Isn't funny how the most obvious thing is what smacks us in the face? Great post.
~Jeff

Henry Haney said...

Man, this is amazing- seems like everytime I read somebody's blog here lately that it really speaks to me. I was thinking about this very thing this morning. Every year we get a "statement" summary of the reports we fill out. I was wondering today how many people actually have I seen saved this year as a direct result of my witnessing (not my preaching, but just my personal witnessing)? Needless to say, I was rather ashamed. Paul told Timothy "do the work of an evangelist." Pastor Darrell you might have just hit the nail on the head- we scratch our heads and shrug our shoulders at the lack of growth, but what are we doing personally to reach out to people. Churches that are really growing seem to have aggressive evangelistic strategies. OK- I'm rambling now....Later Bro.

God bless,
Henry

Sean McKee said...

You are exactly right.

The problem is, most Christian’s KNOW THIS AND STILL DO NOT SHARE THEIR FAITH.

Why...

1) The modern, user friendly, gospel has duped American Christians. We have accepted Christ as savor without making Him Lord. Salvation is so easy, Jesus loves you! Pray this prayer and you can be saved. Don’t bother with the commitment, repentance or a changed and surrendered life. That is legalistic!

2) No fear of God. To put it in seasonal terms, we have turned God into Santa Claus. Santa anyways says that he will not bring us presents if we are bad but he always does. “I am saved now, God will never do anything to hurt me!” Christians do not believe in God's judgment anymore, just His mercy. Lack of fear of a Holy God has made us lukewarm. We fear man more than God and that is why your ‘3 reasons we do not share our faith’ have come about.

3) Self-centered Christianity. In your 3 reasons you should have a 4th. “I too busy with my ‘issues’ to care about God’s ‘projects’”. American Christians are fine with all the religious stuff as long as it does not interfere with their plans and agendas. Case in point, how many churches are canceling church on Christmas this year. “It’s a family day”, “It is hard enough to get the kids ready for church on a regular Sunday”. We all say ‘Merry Christmas’ with our mouths but with our actions and attitudes we are saying ‘Happy Holidays’. Keep Christ in Christmas as long as it does not interfere with my holiday plans!

America Christians have ‘changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man…’ and ‘worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator…’


The true problem why the church does not grow, why lives are not changed, that people are not saved, and believers not baptized…
The thing we worship is the unholy trinity – Me, Myself, and I.

Darrell said...

Ouch! But AMEN!
Excellent points Sean. Thanks for posting them.

nsh17 said...

well hopefully after this christmas play my Brother and sister are in (Alyssa Mathews and Logan Mathews) My fiance Patrick will see that it's a nice church and we can start going!!!

For some reason, I've been having a hard time getting him back into church. He hasnt been to church since he was 17 or so, because something bad happend within the church. But he used to do the whole youthgroup,churchcamp,sunday school thing. So I think that once he grasps it again, he will agree and start going to church. Lets hope so eh?

<3 <3 nikki

Sean McKee said...

nikki,

I don't know your fiance but may I suggest something you may not have thought of. Most men are turned off by most churches.

read this article: Where are all the men?

Bram said...

I landed on this weblog by chance, but the topic grasped my attention. I like good discussions with respect for eachother's opinion. I am not American, but I live in Holland, and perhaps the reason why churches are getting smaller (less popular) has different reasons here, but I doubt it. Over here, I see a clear separation between the church and believing. 90% of the people here will say "I believe there is something higher, but I don't feel connected with the idea of god". In other words, I think the catholic religion has become quite a personal thing, something you do in your own time, in your own house. Most people don't feel the need to go to a church for this, nor do they have the time.

I think the reason for christianity's decline in popularity is because of another reason. I hope I am not offending you, because that's not the reason why I'm writing here. But I believe that the view of catholic church, and official statements by the pope and priests are just lacking any evolution and are too vague to get in touch with up-to-date reality. When they ban homosexuality, sexual protection (although I think they finally changed their view on this quite recently), I think they're really not connected to the modern situation very well. Perhaps that's why most people, here in Netherlands at least, are deciding they can make their own values and rules and form their personal way of believing in "something".

Please feel free to leave a message on my blog, I'm always interested in your opinion. Thanks!

Sean McKee said...

Bram,

Thanks for your input. Your comments are true in a sense. Christianity's decline in popularity IS DUE to it's non-exceptance of, say, homosexuality (since you brought it up).

Here is the problem with a Christian ‘evolving’ with the times to stay ‘popular’.

Christians (bible believing Christians) believe that some things are always wrong (against God's will) and some things are always right (according to God’s will). We also believe that God’s standards never change. If something was good or bad yesterday it still is today and will be tomorrow and forevermore. And these standards are for everyone (not just for those who believe them). So let me ask you this, if the evolving culture moves to says that homosexuality is now ok but traditional Christian belief says that it is wrong, how can a Christian except homosexuality a ‘right’ behavior if we believe that it is against God’s will? We would compromise our beliefs?

Not to confuse the subject but the issue we are discussing here is not the ‘popularity’ of Christianity. We are talking about Christians, not people considering becoming a Christian. We are talking about people that do (or should) profess these ‘unpopular’ beliefs.

J. Stephen Conn said...

Good post, very well said. Thanks so much for plugging my blog on Acts-celebrate. I appreciate it. Would love to visit your church sometime and hear your wife preach. GRIN!

Bram said...

Thanks for your post on my blog, Darrell. I wanted to come back to the topic (after which I will let it rest, 'cause I see your website usually has different topics).

I thought we should take the bible, and live by its higher meaning. The respect for eachother, living a good quality life, being good for other people. Perhaps, and -again this is just my view- it's exactly the point I'm trying to make: why do Christians still want to live by the bible, a book that was written by priests (humans who felt connected with a higher divinity, but nevertheless humans with invididual interpretation differences, views, habits and feelings strongly connected to their context, surrounding and culture) thousands of years ago. Lots of things are now deprecated, simply because the world has changed. I know you're saying that the bible is what god wants. But is that true for all ages?? In the name of god we have conducted thousand acts of violence and war too.

I think 'we' shouldn't take the bible too literally, but use the general message of positivity inside, but translate many things to the 21st century.

Neil said...

I think church growth is often seen as attendance and finances, when in reality it begins with maturity. Perhaps one of the reasons churches are growing is that there are people attending them that in truth have never grown beyond themselves. Their purpose in coming to church is not to receive something for others, it isn't to replenish their evangelism supplies, it's to eat again. We have fat sheep that are unable to reproduce, and if they do, they reproduce the same type believers that they have become. Which produces frustration for the shepherd, who, when he changes their diets becomes the bad guy.
Why are you preaching this stuff pastor? We liked it better when you preached about us? I didn't come here to be told what I'm not doing or what I should be doing, or what I'm doing wrong. I've come to get help for me and my family.
We should offer those things to people, but a part of being a believer is multiplying, not holding the fort!

Sean McKee said...

bram,

I am tempted to break down your response and give answers point by point. I will resist the urge to do so because a point, counter point discussion will just get everyone lost in the back and forth.


2 things:

You say " we should take the bible, and live by its higher meaning". I agree completely. Though, the higher meaning of the bible is not "be nice to each other and pay your taxes". It is the story of the interaction between God and man; That man can not be in relation with God unless it is thru His 'only begotten Son' Jesus. Each of us can choose to say 'yes' or 'no' to the reality of this and that determines our destination after we die; Heaven or Hell. This is the higher meaning of the Bible. To miss this is to not see the forest for the trees. To win the battle, but loose the war.



The other thing you say “'we' shouldn't take the bible too literally”. Well who gets to decide what to believe and what not to believe? If you say we each choose our own truths then you are not really believing the bible. You are agreeing with the bible if it ‘goes along’ with what you believe.



The bible is not a self-help manual. It is not a philosophy or code of conduct. It is not a smorgasbord of good principles to life by. It is the explanation and cure for the man’s separation from God.