Laws of Church Growth
Growth is a dynamic word. Church growth is a dynamic concept.
Church growth is the natural result of a healthy ministry.
Categories of church growth:
Church growth is numerical
Church growth is spiritual growth
Numerical growth for its own sake is not Biblical. Numerical growth occurs when spiritually growing members of the church carry out the Great Commission.
The purpose of the church is to serve as center for worship, prayer, and equipping the saints to bring others in so they may join in the worship, prayer, and outreach.
Some say the purpose of the church is to carry out the Great Commission, but in reality that is the responsibility of the members of the church.
Every church should grow in spiritual maturity, that is the church should grow in grace as the individuals grow in character; the church grows in spiritual strength.
Individuals within the church:
Yield themselves to God and grow in spiritual power
Gain more Bible knowledge and grow in maturity
Pray and commune with God they grow in inner character.
Two false assumptions of church growth:
1. If the church is growing spiritually, it will result in an automatic expansion in numbers. Quality leads to quantity.
2. Churches which are growing in numbers are automatically also growing in Biblical maturity.
In the diagram of church growth the inner circle indicates the priority of growth- spiritual factors and the outer circle indicates the numerical aspects of growth.
If all the attention is placed on spiritual factors such as prayer, Bible teaching, and holiness to the neglect of organization, outreach and wise administration well…
If all the attention is placed on programs, leadership, outreach, and attendance campaigns to the neglect of the spiritual issues, well…
The traditional laws of Sunday School growth have concerned themselves with organization and administration. The churches recognized as the Ten Largest Sunday Schools broke at least some of the traditional laws. There were actually other factors that caused their growth. Some of these were spiritual dynamics and new organizational methods that moved to meet needs and solve problems that prohibited expansion. The traditional laws were not wrong, but they are more like working rules that do not all apply today.
Spiritual Factors in Outreach- Some churches seem to grow naturally, but,
God has a plan for growing churches.
Growing churches in the book of Acts had the following spiritual factors:
1. Churches grow when they have New Testament aims.
The people in the early church practiced soul winning going to every house in Jerusalem. Acts 5:42. Paul went to every house in Ephesus Acts 20:20 and reached every person in the city Acts 20:31. God expects a church to grow.
2. Christians grow best through Sunday School.
The aims of the Sunday School must reflect the aims of the church. The Sunday School is the primary arm for doing the work of the church in reaching, teaching, winning, and training. The church must enable believers to carry out the Great Commission which contains three aspects:
The principle of the commandments of God is that anyone who disobeys any part becomes guilty of the whole. The Great Commission is a commandment of God given in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Christian who emphasizes teaching but neglects evangelism is not fulfilling the Great Commission.
There is no success in serving the Lord without successors.
3. Churches grow when its individual members aim to carry out the Great Commission and it becomes the enabler of that effort.
I. We are to make disciples of as many people in the world as possible. The Biblical means to do this is laid out in the Scripture and summarized as follows:
a. By showing compassion on the needs of man.
b. By having a vision of what God can do for the lost.
c. By bringing the lost under the hearing of the Gospel.
d. By sharing their Christian experience with the lost.
e. By communicating the Gospel to all men.
f. By persuading the lost to accept the Gospel through the power of the Holy Spirit.
II. Identify each Christian with a local church
a. By getting each Christian under the teaching of the Scripture.
b. By using the total abilities of each person for God’s purpose.
c. By encouraging fellowship among Christians so they may strengthen one another.
d. By producing corporate worship and motivating Christians to private worship.
e. By becoming the focus of an organized outreach into the community.
f. By administering the church ordinances.
III. Teach each Christian to be obedient to the Scripture.
a. By communicating the content of the Word of God.
b. By training each Christian to use his skills to carry out God’s plan for his life.
c. By inculcating Christian values and attitudes in all believers.
d. By motivating Christians to live a godly life as called for in the Scripture.
e. By supporting the aims and sanctity of the family.
f. By the exercise of church discipline.
4. Churches grow by soul winning.
Evangelism is communicating enough of the Gospel so a man might be saved.
Two ways of looking at a church’s outreach:
(1.) Church evangelism- The systematic canvassing of the community by the church. This was done by the church in the book of Acts.
(2.) Saturation evangelism- Communicating the Gospel by every available means to every available person at every available time. Saturation evangelism completely immerses the community with the message (Acts 5:28)
Modern instruments of saturation evangelism include:
c. mass mail outs
e. newspaper articles
5. Churches grow by a program of evangelism.
Saturation evangelism results from an organized program.
Systematic comprehensive coverage is necessary for a program of evangelism to be successful. A master program of outreach is necessary because:
a. A church is an organization as well as an organism with a specific goal.
b. Because of the evidence of a program in the biblical example, the book of Acts.
c. Because the average Christian does not win souls unless motivated by goals, examples, requirements, and programs.
d. Because God is the God of order and rationality, and the church should have organization, procedure, and order commensurate with the laws of God.
6. Churches grow through revival.
When the church is in a general state of revival, God blesses in outreach.
7. Churches grow through public preaching and teaching.
The Bible is a dynamic book and it changes lives.
New Christians will attract the interest and attendance of other unsaved.
When the Bible is properly preached, the unsaved want to attend and hear its message.
8. Churches grow by prayer and Biblical conviction.
A praying church is a growing church.
Its basic prayer concerns are:
a. The lost will become convicted.
b. That God will use the preaching of the Word to accomplish His purpose.
c. That spiritual growth and revival will take place.
d. That lives will be changed.
The leadership of a growing church is actively involved in prayer. It has been repeatedly demonstrated that those who grow soundly and consistently have leaders who frequently meet together and pray together.
Natural Factors in Outreach.
All truth flows from God. We can count on Him to bless His truth in every medium we use to project it. The natural principles of church growth as well as the spiritual factors stem from God.
1. Growing churches project an aggressive image.
The pastor establishes the image of the church. He determines the sum total of impressions the church wants to make on the community.
Churches may be known as busing churches, youth churches, foreign missions churches, Bible teaching churches, or as some other type or combination of types.
The pastor and the church must work together to communicate that image to the community.
2. Growing churches determine what clientele they can reach.
A clientele is a natural grouping of people with one factor in common. The church must identify with these people, determine their needs, and develop their advertisement to reach them with the Gospel. Factors that determine a church’s natural clientele are:
a. The friends of the regular attenders.
b. The relatives.
c. The neighbors who would not be called their friends.
d. Those neighbor to the church facility. (most often ignored)
e. Those living in the community.
f. The unsaved in other churches.
g. Visitors who drive a distance to the church.
h. New residents to the community.
Each of the above areas can be broken down into:
(1) new couples
(4) servicemen, police, etc.
(5) middle-aged couples
(6) senior citizens
(8) college students
No single outreach can touch all of the potential clientele. The church must target each group it wants to reach. 4.
3. Growing churches determine to reach every person in the community.
The more to whom you present the Gospel; the more who are likely to respond, this is the Biblical principle of sowing and reaping.
Never be satisfied with the last time a person responded for salvation. And, don’t be discouraged when some young converts drop by the way.
The more fully a person commits himself to the Lordship of Jesus Christ at the moment of salvation, the more likelihood of his follow through in the Christian life. Preach repentance. Let the new convert know his obligations to the church in witnessing, attendance, tithing, Christian service, baptism, visitation, and prayer meeting.
Secondary motives often bring people to salvation. Examples of secondary motives are:
(2) To satisfy parents
(3) It is the thing to do.
(4) To make business contacts
(5) To please a spouse.
(6) The pressure of circumstance.
Whatever the reason for a person coming under the preaching of the word, if they meet Jesus at the altar they receive eternal life. Whatever the reason that brought them, when the Gospel is preached and they respond their primary need of salvation is met.
4. Growing churches use every form of advertising media possible.
(1.) Advertise in keeping with your “image.”
(2.) Make your advertising personal to your targeted clientele.
Use general announcements, but do not expect them to be as affective as targeted, personal forms of announcement.
(3.) Use advertising to lead to personal contact. People go to church because of a human contact.
(4.) Advertisement begins at home. Reach officers, teachers, and pupils. Convince them of the program
(5.) Get everyone involved. You can expect results equal only to the number involved.
(6.) Use your people to advertise:
a. personal testimony
b. personal invitation
e. distributing handbills
f. writing letters
(7.) Use church resources to advertise
a. church planning calendar
b. church bulletins
c. church newspaper
d. pastor’s newsletter
e. church bulletin boards
h. announcements on church radio and television broadcasts
i. direct mail
(8.) Advertise through communications media.
a. purchased advertisements and press releases.
b. Radio, church programs, community service programs.
c. Community social events, festivals, craft shows, flea markets, fairs, parades, etc.
d. Bumper stickers
f. Posters in store windows and church announcement boards
5. Growing churches are organized to grow.
Many Sunday Schools do not grow because the leaders plan to keep them small.
a. Set attendance goals.
Long range goals cover a period of years
A yearly goal will keep vision lifted and a challenge before the people.
b. A growing Sunday School will have an attendance chart that looks like a two humped camel. Growth is experienced in the spring and in the fall. Attendance dips in the summer and around Christmas.
c. Plan a fall and spring campaign- The strongest pushes should occur when it can get the greatest results. This does not mean you want to ignore the other times, just focus on the conservation of the energy of the workers. Use them when they can get the best results.
d. A Sunday School campaign should have the following characteristics:
(1) Lesson content should tie to the theme.
(2) The theme should motivate for outreach.
(3) The theme should be expressible in a pithy saying.
(4) Their should be a logo to visualize the campaign.
(5) The campaign should be short enough to sustain interest, but long enough to generate enthusiasm.
e. Set multiple goals during a Sunday School contest. It takes several things working together to effectively stir the people. It should challenge the specific need to which it is tied, and will bring about a specific result. You need momentum and excitement.
The following may be achieved during a campaign:
i. An all time attendance record
ii. The highest average attendance for the fall/spring
iii. The highest average attendance for the year
iv. Class goals
v. Department goals
vi. Highest average goals for all buses.
vii. Highest attendance for original bus route.
viii. Greatest number of visitors.
ix. Greatest number of visits made by a single worker.
x. The greatest number of phone calls made.
xi. The greatest number of postcards written.
f. The campaign should get as many people as possible involved in the outreach. Plan multiple activities. Awards, rewards, giveaways,
g. Special personalities or musical groups
h. Multiplied forms of saturation produces explosive attendance
i. The high day- The traditional Sunday School celebrated Rally Day on the first Sunday in October.
Most people who want to build a New Testament church give attention to the spiritual growth principles in the Word of God, but neglect natural factor of good organization and techniques.
Spiritual Factors of Organization
1. Churches grow when they meet the Biblical qualifications for a church.
Not every group calling itself a church is a church. It must meet the Biblical qualification of a church:
a. A church is a group of baptized believers
b. A church has the presence of Jesus Christ in the midst.
c. A church places itself under the authority of the Word of God.
d. A church is organized to assist the individual believer in carrying out the Great Commission.
e. A church administers the ordinances.
f. A church is evidenced by a manifestation of spiritual gifts of leadership and service.
2. Churches grow when their leader is truly called and lead of God.
Dr. Lee Roberson says, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” The greatest factor in church growth is the leader. The pastor must assume the Biblical position of leadership within the flock.
a. the pastor leads by example
b. the pastor leads by preaching
c. the pastor leads by watch-care
d. the pastor leads by wise decision making
3. Churches grow when laymen have the proper place of responsibility.
Committees, councils, and boards are Biblical means of organization.
Even the Apostles were under some oversight from local bodies.
Few leaders are talented enough to alone become the organizational personification of the church. The Scripture illustrates this organization in the wilderness wandering and in the care for widows in Acts.
Natural Factors of Organization
1. Growing churches allow the pastor to exercise leadership.
If a pastor goes in a direction and the people do not follow, he is not a leader.
Or, if a pastor runs beyond the ability of his people to follow, he is not a leader.
The emphasis is on being a leader, not a dictator. There are dangers in both a pastor and a board dominated church. It is the responsibility of the pastor to exercise leadership and the boards to exercise both wise counsel and facilitation to the pastor’s work.
2. Growing churches have workers who assist the pastor through service, prayer, and encouragement.
3. Growing churches are organized to meet the needs of the congregation.
Deacons are the helpers in the pastoral ministry by reaching out to families within the church and offering regular and personal attention.
Sunday School Teachers are the helpers in the pastoral ministry by focusing on personal relationships with the individuals who attend their class. No committee or agency is formed before it is needed, nor is it maintained when it is no longer serving the needs of the members.
4. Growing churches employ qualified people to carry the work forward.
5. Growing churches can pinpoint their needs to best solve problems.
6. Growing churches get more people involved in the organization and administration of the Sunday School than the average church. The Master Teacher who has a large class must have many other people involved with individuals within the class in various capacities.
7. Growing churches build loyalty to the organization on the part of the pupils. Stability is important. Leaders should be loyal to the church and the pastor. Every church should have one translation of the Scripture used throughout its program.
Examples of application of the stability principle:
a. Sunday School classes have names.
b. Loyalty is developed to the class.
c. Classes have the same room as long as possible. The classes make the room reflect their personality in decoration, drapes, and furnishing.
d. Teachers are appointed on a permanent basis.
e. The gifted teacher is allowed to build their class as large as possible.
8. Growing churches reflect the normal Sunday attendance curve.
9. Growing churches are measured by attendance, financial support, and member involvement. A growing Sunday School ought to incorporate:
a. an active program to foster consistent attendance.
b. An active program to get new attenders
c. Curriculum content to bolster attendance
d. External stimulation to encourage attendance
10. Growing churches construct buildings and educational space to reflect the purpose of the Sunday School.
11. Growing churches use their buildings as a major means of publicity.
12. Growing churches are reflected by expansion of buildings
13. Growing churches economize on building use.
Numerical growth of a New Testament Church
begins with the power of God
The leader is the length and shadow of the work
he builds for God
In finding Biblical leadership the following criteria must be observed:
Spiritual Factors of Leadership
1. Growing churches have a leader “called” of God.
Criteria of calling:
a. Burden to serve God.
b. Consuming all encompassing desire to serve God.
c. No alternative but to serve
2. Growing churches have a leader who displays Biblical spirituality.
Filled with the Spirit- controlled by; desire for souls; answers to prayer; fruitfulness; separated from all known sin; yielding all conscious endeavors to God; seeking leadership of God in all areas of service; trusting God to work through his service to accomplish results of the Spirit.
3. Growing churches see the power of God work through their leader.
4. Growing churches share the vision of their leader.
The Biblical leader must see first, see farthest, and see most.
The leader must see what God is doing and what He wants to do; he must have a vision of growth that he inspires into his congregation.
5. Growing churches have a leader with spiritual gifts.
Some leaders have more gifts than others, but the intensity of gifts is as important or even more important than the number. A leader with spiritual gifts can draw others who have complimentary gifts that can support his work.
6. Growing churches have a leader who aggressively obeys the commands of Christian service.
Those who aggressively seek to carry out the New Testament commands concerning service are those who experience the power of God in their lives.
7. Growing churches are the result of the faith of their leader
8. Growing churches have a leader who is mature.
There is a difference between having 20 years of experience and having one year of experience 20 times
9. Growing churches are built by a leader with resolute determination
He commits himself to one place.
He feels a burden to reach a community
He focuses on staying in one place and building the church
He meets and overcomes obstacles, focusing on the building of the church given to him above all else.
Natural Factors of Leadership
Christian Leadership has been defined as helping people accomplish the goals of a New Testament church. Therefore every man who is actively involved in doing that within his church is a leader whether it be a pastor, teacher, deacon, or some other individual. Even those people without an official title who are actively involved in helping people accomplish the goals of a New Testament church should be recognized as a leader.
1. Growing churches employ gifted workers to accomplish the most for God.
Every man should be used in the church. Those who can accomplish the most should be used in strategic places of leadership.
2. Growing churches realize that effective leadership produces a multiplication of their ministry.
When the leader properly carries out his duties, he accomplishes two results:
I. The work for God prospers
II. New workers are trained for ministry
a. Others are inspired to serve.
b. Those he reaches grow and want to help in the ministry
c. His ministry duplicates himself in his people
3. Growing churches spawn leadership through a “hot poker” approach.
Heat transfers from hot coals to an iron poker, so the qualities and attitudes of effective leadership are assimilated.
Recruits spending time with an effective leader
a. Gain self-confidence.
b. Develop proper leadership attitude
c. Keep from immature mistakes
d. Acquire a vision of his potential for production
e. Understand the overall strategy of the administration
The best methods for developing “hot poker” leaders are
a. teaching internship
b. by bringing great educators to your church
c. by taking the staff to seminars, conventions, and training sessions outside of your church.
4. Growing churches improve leadership ability through formal training sessions.
A growing Sunday School should plan a program of training.
5. Growing churches effectively use leadership by providing a consistent, constant, interaction between workers. (People left to themselves run down)
Teachers meetings are an essential to growth.
6. Growing churches give direction to a Sunday School through written standards.
No work is effective for God unless the people are willing
To follow God and the leader that He has placed over them.
The effectiveness of the church is measured to the degree by which the people follow the Lord.
Spiritual Factors in Discipleship
1. Growing churches are characterized by people who love God.
Things an individual’s love will cause him to do:
a. endure hardships
b. visit 8 hours on a Saturday
c. stay up and pray all night
d. can you list others?
2. Growing churches are characterized by people with commitment and/or yieldedness.
To be a disciple of Christ, a man must yield himself to do God’s will
This involved a total commitment of one’s conscious endeavors and daily yielding of self to God’s will.
3. Growing churches are characterized by people who pray
a. the effective disciple spends time in worshipping God
b. fellowshipping with God
c. asking for power
4. Growing churches are characterized by people who know and live by the Word of God.
5. Growing churches are characterized by Biblical fellowship among members.
A disciple wants to fellowship with other believers.
Natural Factors of Discipleship
1. Growing churches reach a man as and where he is.
Simply because a church member might reach somebody and lead them to Christ, it does not then follow they will always unite with that person’s church.
2. Growing churches spend time and money on those who will respond most readily.
1. Invest the most energy in those who will attend instead of those who wont.
2. Jesus said that those who will not receive you, shake the dust of your feet.
3. Growing churches have more people making a profession of faith, hence they have more who can become disciples.
1. We want every person saved we can possibly reach.
2. We want those saved to go on with Christ.
Back door revival
4. Growing churches involve new Christians in service.
Outward confession stimulates motivates to faithfulness
5. Growing churches stress salvation of the whole person
Salvation involves the intellect, the emotion, and the will
For a person to be saved he must
a. Know the salvation message of the Gospel
b. Feel the conviction of sin and the love of God
c. Then respond as an act of will
6. Growing churches have disciples that assume the attitudes and practices of their leader
The leader cannot get people to do what he himself is unwilling to do.
7. Growing churches realize the power of an educated disciple.
The effectiveness of a worker is in direct proportion to his education.
8. Growing churches realize the power of the motivated worker.
The leader must make the following assumptions:
a. People do not naturally want to serve God.
b. Everyone should be serving God
c. The leader should motivate everybody to serve God.
Research indicates that no one of the following factors will keep a church from growing or have a significant bearing upon church growth.
1. Location of the church building
2. Population density of the area
3. Size and appointments of church buildings
4. Known workers available
5. Known financing available
6. Size of church
7. Age of church
8. Size of the church staff
9. Formal training of the church staff
10. Hard work
11. Denominational affiliation
12. Organizations within the church
13. Committees within the church
14. Social, racial, and ethnic factors
15. Economy of the area
16. Involvement in social matters and benevolence programs
17. Number and size of other churches in the area.