What is real church growth? In short, real church growth is when we shift the core of our church family from a weekend only culture to a disciple-making culture. In a weekend-only culture, I participate and attend because I get something from it. In a disciple-making culture, I participate and attend because I’m giving something. In this case, I’m giving myself to a shared disciple-making identity and a disciple-making vision. This produces growth because people are moving out of the lower room of preference into the upper room of vision. From the upper room of vision, we move out on mission to where we live, work, and play. In real church growth, this is where disciple-making most begins considering our current western context. Our context is post-Christian and can be summed up in that we have reached everyone like us or everyone who wants to be like us.
You don’t have to look too far back to realize just a short time ago, those who were lost or at least disconnected from the church found their way to our doorstep through a simple invitation and a seeker-friendly environment. Not so much anymore. Where do we go from here?
The good news is people still respond to the gospel. Nothing has changed when it comes to it’s power to transform the heart of men and women. I just recently spent a week with a church on the West Coast. They have experienced significant numerical growth in their worship gatherings over the past five years. This year for the first time, this growth has slowed.
We spend several days using our visionary planning tool to map out a vision and an actual plan for achieving that vision. They recognize to maintain and even grow their relevance in their community; they must transition from what they call an “invitation” culture to a “for” culture. This is not to say that they are giving up on an invitation culture. Their weekend attendance is still growing. They grew by 4% last year compared to 10% and 15% in the previous years. However, they recognized that for them, the future will still consist of gathering people, but it will flourish only if they send people.
More and more churches are getting this, and those that do will have a bright future. Those that don’t will become more and more irrelevant and continue to decline until they die.
In our next webinar, I am going to talk about how to develop a visionary plan that leads to real church growth. I’m going to be joined by Matthew Peeples. Matt is a young pastor that walked into a declining church in a declining denomination just outside of New York City. Over the past few years, it has been my honor to work closely with him as he transitions the church to a disciple-making church that is committed to revitalizing and planting churches throughout their region. To join us for this live webinar register by clicking on the link below and join us on February 25th at 11 AM EST.
David Putman is the founder of Planting the Gospel and a Senior Lead Navigator with Auxano the category leader in vision clarity. When David isn't writing or consulting he enjoys staying fit and competing at Crossfit.