Growth: experimenting with the process
Several years back, a senior Pastor invited me to examine his church because he was believing God for 1,000 members in few weeks to be added to his local church of barely 100 members! I went there and told him pointedly that it’s not possible for him to gather 1,000 from less than 100 members in few weeks, even in few months’ times. He was angry and showed it to me in no uncertain terms.
I had to explain to him that growth follows a process. Where is the hall to accommodate the crowd, even if God brings them? Where are those that will nurture them; train and provide spiritual parenting to them until they can stand on their feet for the Lord? He couldn’t answer me and he realized that he was not ready for the growth he was fervently praying for!
It was reported too in a certain Ministers’ conference that a well-respected minister said, “If you are not counting thousands in membership within a year, you are too slow for God”. He meant that every local church must grow up from nothing to crowds of 1,000 people in attendance in a single year! And several young ministers believed him and are working feverishly to start counting their thousands in one, two years of planting their churches! Well, that is why there are lots of unhealthy growth, swelling and crowds of ungodly, unsaved and nominal people in most churches today!
“I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.” – 1 Corinthians 3:6.
Well, truth be told, growth is a process. Dynamic, natural or even supernatural growth follows a strategic process. There is a world of difference between mushroom growth and a mighty oak tree. Mushroom can and do grow overnight, but it has no deep root and can be swept away easily. But it takes years for an oak seed to germinate, grow, mature, become solidified and able to withstand and weather any storm of life! So also is quality church growth. Rapid growth is good, but solid growth is much, much better.
My ministry core value is that we are convinced that the key to growth is an ongoing, long lasting process. Process is greater than programming. Programmes can and do bring instant numerical growth, but it takes a strategic process to bring healthy, quality and sustainable growth to human body and church. We are therefore committed to quality growth that only comes through strategic process.
Leaders must follow the process of growth. We must build a healthy church through godly process, not one-sided mushroom work. And because of this core value, we refuse to encourage ‘short-cut’ to church growth in our teachings and practices! Most churches grow in quantity in the first 7 years of their life, but starts dying to quality growth later.
Furthermore, the process of growth must be strategic. Strategy is very crucial to the effectiveness of our process.
“For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace.” – Luke 14:28-32.
Strategy involves proper and skillful planning and procedure. Church growth demands for strategic process of praying, planning, programming, proclamations, pastoring and preaching. Any church without a good, godly and strategic process will surely end up in tragedy, because strategy is much better than energy. Good strategy means you are purposeful, intentional and deliberate in the ways you pursue quality growth in your church.
A cursory look at the ministry of our Lord Jesus will reveal that he followed a strategic process of growth. His strategy was quite different from that of John the Baptist. While John the Baptist followed the process of hard preaching, no training of anyone to do the work, no outstanding miracles and yet drew much people to repentance, Jesus followed the strategic process of performing miracles, calling people to repentance, showing them the Father’s heart, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, teaching and training His disciples, releasing them to do the work and empowering them to own the work and correcting their mistakes while still with them.
This strategic process of our Lord led to the growth, increase, multiplication and expansion of the work since then till now! And following His strategic process is what will make the work to grow, increase, multiply in healthy ways in each leader/minister or Pastors hands. Healthy growth demands that you must follow a strategic process as I will describe in the following pages:
- Focus On Jesus
“And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” – John 12:32.
The Lordship of Jesus Christ must be honored and deeply respected as the foundation of every local church. It is His church and He must there be allowed to be the true Head, Founder and Foundation of the church. Jesus Christ must be constantly lifted up for everyone to see, it is then He will draw men and women unto Himself.
The gospel of the life, death, sufferings, resurrection and soon rapture of the saints must be preached, taught again and again. The salvation from sin, Satan, sickness and concomitant evils of the world that only Jesus can give must be stressed again and again. Jesus must be the Savior and Lord in His church. His word and will must be obeyed through His Holy Spirit. His presence and power must be in display and He must be all in all in everything in the church.
This is the first process that must be in place in any church. Jesus, not men, methods or ideas must receive our full and undivided focus in our local churches. The church must follow the Church Growth Principles of Jesus, either in administration, policies, management and leadership spheres.
Friends To Community
“Jesus wept. Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him!” – John 11:35-36.
The church must follow the process of being a good neighbor and friend to the community she is located. Even our Lord Jesus was called the friend of sinners. He did not go into sin with them but displayed friendly dispositions that made Him to preach the truth to them. The church must connect with her immediate community before you can influence them for Christ. The church must have good, clean and godly image in her immediate ministry area – which is 1 to 5 kilometer radius of her location. The good works and social actions of the church to her community is not an end in itself, but a means to an end to soften hearts towards the gospel of Christ that the church proclaims.
Fight The Devils
“But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” – 2 Corinthians 4:3-4.
“When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace: But when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils.” – Luke 11:21-22.
Spiritual warfare – binding and nullifying the forces of Satan that has blindfolded and darkened the hearts of people to the glorious gospel of Christ must be the forte of the church in her community. The gates of hell militating against her light, salt and growth in her community must be conquered. The strongholds of occult, demonic worship, devilish rituals, and ceremonies that put people in spiritual bondage must be destroyed by the powers of intensive prayers, fasting, prayer walk, Holy Spirit anointing, prophetic acts in the name, blood of Jesus and the word of God.
Until the local church fights and conquer the devilish activities in her domain, her health and growth will be put in abeyance. Small, anemic, struggling and stagnant churches are the result of lack of prevailing spiritual warfare in our communities. The cloud of darkness hovering over our communities must be broken through spiritual warfare, and then we can have open heaven of growth, breakthrough and revival over our local churches.
“Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.” – 2 Corinthians 2:11.
Find The Lost
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” – Romans 1:16.
The church must strategize to find the lost and continue to find the lost through personal witness, outreaches to each segment of the community, crusades and soul winning campaigns. The strategic process of FRANgelism – every member bringing their Friends, Relations, Associates and Neighbors to the Lord and fellowship of the church must be encouraged. Operation WIFE – Witness, Invite, Follow-up and Establish in the Lord must be a continuous process that is taught and practiced in the church regularly.
It is only a going church that will become a growing church. Therefore the church must keep going into the entire world (Matthew 28:19-20). Conversion growth is much better than biological and transferred growth. People must get converted, born-again and saved from their sins.
Read also: Terminal diseases plaguing the church-Dr. Francis Bola Akin Johnhttps://www.churchtimesnigeria.net/terminal-diseases-plaguing-the-church-dr-francis-bola-akin-john/
“There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” – John 3:1-3.
The church must continually witness new life and new born babies in the Lord.
To be continued (contact: 08029744296