Thursday, 13 April 2017

How do you grow a church?

How can you take a dying church and make it grow again? That is a $64,000 question hundreds of struggling ministers would love to know the answer to. But the honest response is that I haven't a clue, even though every Church I have served in have looked to me for the answer. But I don't know. Trust me I have read ALL the books.

Gordon Strachan, current manager of the Scotland Football Team was once asked how, after a series of losses, when all talk was of him losing his job, his team had suddenly started winning again. With a customary twinkle in his eye, Strachan thought for a moment and then said suddenly, "I know what it is, we changed the coach driver!"

In other words, he had no idea why one minute the same team had gone on a run of losing matches only, suddenly, to start winning again. The same could be said of turning a dying church into a living one. There is no easy answer, no matter how often you may try changing the driver!

When I go along to churches which are busy and full, with lots of activities for every age group, it is tempting to think that the answer lies in such things as good organization, a new building, lots of young people and families or a contemporary music band with a gifted speaker. But then that means it all comes down to human effort and you grow a church by having the right things or hiring the right people. What about God? Doesn't He get a look in?

Jesus tells his disciples that there is only one way to build a church, and that is to let him do it (Matthew 16:18). That does not mean that we are not involved, but that ultimately He is the one who will do it and should, therefore, get the greatest glory. And after all, He has made the biggest investment.

To use an analogy, when I was a bricklayer, none of us workmen could start building until the materials had arrived and the Head Foreman had come along and shown us the plans and told us what to do. We then could get on and build houses. But once it was all finished the work of the individual workers were never mentioned. Instead, it was the firm that got all the credit. It was never Mark Williams or Joe Bloggs who built the houses, it was Wimpy or Hales or whoever the firm was.

It is the same with the church. God will build His church, and it is God, therefore, who should get the glory at the end.

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