HISTORY & A Brief Historical Analysis/Definition of the Church Growth Movement by #EdStetzer

What’s the Deal with the Church Growth Movement? (part one)

by Ed Stetzer, The Exchange, Christianity Today, 10/1/12.

Today, I begin a blog series that takes a closer look at the Church Growth Movement. Our approach to church today has been shaped by this movement whether we are conscious of it or not. Good and bad have evolved from the early days. By taking a closer look at the movement I hope we can learn and become more focused on lostness issues in America. So where were the thoughts and dreams of the early voices in the Church Growth Movement?

Now, church growth (as attendance) is not the same as Church Growth (as a movement). Most people would be in favor of growing a church, but Church Growth has become controversial (see the Google search on the movement to see how many links are to critiques).

So, what is Church Growth (when using capital letters). The American Society of Church Growth (now the Great Commission Research Network) defines it as:

Church growth is that discipline which investigates the nature, function, and health of Christian churches, as they relate to the effective implementation of the Lord’s Great Commission to make disciples of all peoples (Mt. 28:19-20). It is a spiritual conviction, yet it is practical, combining the eternal principles of God’s Word with the practical insights of social and behavioral sciences.

Over the next few weeks, I want to talk a look at the movement, starting with the person widely seen as the founder of the movement.

Donald McGavran, was a missiologist and third generation missionary born in India. He is universally considered the father of the Church Growth Movement. He was, interestingly, a missiologist and that was related to his emphasis.

As a missiolgist, when he suggested the need to transition our strategy from “people” to “peoples” in his work Bridges of God in 1954, it impacted his views (and the Church Growth Movement) in big ways. His study of groups (or peoples) on how they respond, undergirded the movement’s emphasis on statistics, sociology, analysis, and more.

Let me say that I am a fan of Donald McGavran. We may learn more by understanding what McGavran was not saying, particularly from the beginning. For example, McGavran took on the most popular, long standing approach to international missions and evangelism. He declared the “mission station approach,” that had existed for over 150 years, was ineffective for reaching the masses. He determined that by measurement– he analyzed and came to statistical conclusions that undergirded his missiological decisions that led to the Church Growth Movement.

For background, the mission station approach encouraged new converts to leave their tribe and isolate themselves. They took advantage of Western churches, hospitals, and schools (goods and services) established on international mission fields. He did not deny the positive outcomes through this approach but called for a “new pattern” when it comes to results (peoples being converted to Christ):

A new pattern is at hand, which, while new, is as old as the Church itself. It is a God-designed pattern by which not ones but thousands will acknowledge Christ as Lord, and grow into full discipleship as people after people, clan after clan, tribe after tribe and community after community are claimed for and nurtured in the Christian faith.(Bridges of God 331,332)

Read more at … http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2012/october/whats-deal-with-church-growth-movement-part-one.html

LEADERSHIP & MANAGEMENT: The fundamental differences & why you need both.

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel:

“Most church leaders fail because they lack management skills, not leadership skills.”

I have found church leaders are usually adequately prepared to set the vision and define objectives, but an under-prepared to manage the process to get there.

My above statements are often quoted by church leaders and students.  I think they resonate in part because in the church world there are hundreds of books on leadership. But on the corollary task of management, only a few (including two, to which I contributed chapters: Foundations of Church Administration [Beacon Hill] and The Church Leader’s MBA [Ohio Christian Univ. Press]).

To understand the differences between leadership and management read this helpful definition from Brent Gleason.

by Brent Gleeson, Inc. Magazine, 2/23/17.

Generally speaking, management is a set of systems and processes designed for organizing, budgeting, staffing, and problem solving to achieve the desired results of an organization. Leadership defines the vision, mission, and what the “win” looks like in the future. It inspires the team to embody the beliefs and behaviors necessary to take the actions needed to achieve those results.

Read more at … http://www.inc.com/brent-gleeson/the-fundamental-differences-between-leadership-and-management.html

MISSIONAL & A Holistic Definition of Missio Dei According to Its Origin

“An Abbreviated Introduction to the Concept of Missio Dei” by Greg McKinzie, Missio Dei: A Journal of Missional Theology and Praxis, Aug. 2010, pp. 10-11.

“Mission is ultimately God’s affair.”3  The expression of this fact in terms of “missio Dei” seems especially shaped by the theology of Karl Barth, who first revived the trinitarian idea of missio in 1932.4 In addition, the preliminary report from the U.S. study group hinged upon the doctrine of the Trinity. Thus, the statement that ultimately distills the conference findings reads:

The missionary movement of which we are a part has its source in the Triune God Himself. Out of the depths of His love for us, the Father has sent forth His own beloved Son to reconcile all things to Himself. . . . On the foundation of this accomplished work God has sent forth His Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus. . . . We who have been chosen in Christ . . . are by these very facts committed to full participation in His redeeming mission to the world. There is no participation in Christ without participation in His mission to the world. That by which the Church receives its existence is that by which it is also given its world-mission. “As the Father hath sent Me, even so send I you.”5

It was another document, written by Karl Hartenstein after the conference, that utilized the Latin phrase missio Dei in order to summarize the fundamental idea conveyed by the conference findings:

Mission is not just the conversion of the individual, nor just obedience to the word of the Lord, nor just the obligation to gather the church. It is the taking part in the sending of the Son, the missio Dei, with the holistic aim of establishing Christ’s rule over all redeemed creation.6

Hartenstein clearly wrote from a traditionalist perspective, though his terminology would also be co-opted by the humanist camp in order to signify an idea of mission exclusive of the church’s “taking part” in God’s movement toward the world. Yet, we may note that the dispute was not simply between those who advocated a “social gospel” and those who did not. The “holistic” notion of a kingdom over “all redeemed creation” was integral to the traditionalist view, which made room also for individual conversion, obedience to the word, and the gathering of the church. The issue remained, implicitly at least, one of eschatology and its implications for the church’s instrumentality. That is to say, a critical dialog between eschatology and ecclesiology had begun.7

Footnotes:

3 Wolfgang Günther, “The History and Significance of the World Mission Conferences in the 20th Century,”
International Review of Mission 92, no. 367 (October 2003): 529.

4 Wilhelm Richebächer, “Missio Dei: The Basis of Mission Theology or a Wrong Path?” International Review of Mission 92, no. 367 (October 2003): 590.

5 Michael Kinnamon and Brian E. Cope, The Ecumenical Movement: An Anthology of Key Texts and Voices (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997), 339-40.theol

6 Quoted in Tormod Engelsviken, “Missio Dei: The Understanding and Misunderstanding of a Theological Concept in European Churches and Missiology,” International Review of Mission 92, no. 367 (October 2003): 482.

7 Tiina Ahonen, “Antedating Missional Church: David Bosch’s Views on the Missionary Nature of the Church and on the Missionary Structure of the Congregation,” Swedish Missiological Themes 92, no. 4 (2004): 576-77.

The full article is available here: article-abbrv-intro-to-missio-dei.

Speaking hashtags: #Kingswood2018

LEADERSHIP & A Definition by Peter Northouse

pp. 6-7.
Northouse Leadership Defined Theory 6th ed p. 6 copy
(page 7)
Northouse Leadership Defined Theory 6th ed p. 7 copy

EXISTENTIALISM & Satre’s Definition Expanded in Bakewell’s book: “At the Existentialist Café”

By Bob Whitesel, D.Min. Ph.D., 2/27/16.

In Sarah Bakewell’s new book “At the Existentialist Café” (Other Press, 2015) she carefully depicts the personalities behind the rise of existentialism. She explains how standard-bearer Jean-Paul Sartre was influenced by phenomenologists (e.g. Heidegger, Husserl, etc.) in 1932. She depicts how extensive reading in phenomenology along with witnessing the rise of Fascism in Germany led him to a new outlook based on freedom, which he summarized as: “existence precedes essence.”

In her book, Sarah Bakewell offers a helpful expansion of Sartre’s popular phrase, stating:

“As a human being, I have no predefined nature at all. I create that nature through what I choose to do. Of course I may be influenced might buy my biology, or by aspects of my culture and personal background, but none of this adds up to a complete blueprint for producing me. I am always one step ahead of myself, making myself up as I go along.”

This is a good expansion with several implications.

First, there is an understanding of free-will inherent in what Sartre was saying. Perhaps partially in reaction to the Nazis as much as in embracement of the new phenomenologists. He recognized that humans are influenced by many factors but they have the power to accept and reject influences as warranted.

Secondly, existentialism appears to this writer to be the epitome of postmodernity. Sartre’s expression clearly sums up the postmodernal predilection for experience as the best teacher.

But, experience which begins in the supernatural can in many lead to a spiritual quest to understand the Author.

CHURCH GROWTH & Defining It + 4 Ways to Measure It #HouseDividedBook

by Bob Whitesel, 10/20/14

Church growth.  Some people distain the term, wrongly believing it is all about numbers. Such a perspective belies a naïve understanding of the real focus of the Church Growth Movement. You can gain a perspective on four types of church growth by looking at Acts 2:42-47 (quoted in the middle of this article).

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Donald R. McGavran, missiologist and father of the Church Growth Movement, was sensitive to this misconception and in his later years was trying to find an alternative to this appellation. He was working with the idea of re-labeling church growth as “effective evangelism,” for effectiveness in evangelism is something we sorely need, and for which most churches have few tools to effectively measure. But God called Dr. McGavran home before he should codify an alternative name. And thus, in at least this present authors’ viewpoint, God may have been voting in favor of the more controversial, yet accurate appellation: church growth.

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However, to ensure in your personal and professional ministry that church growth does not get an unwarranted and inappropriate designation; remind yourself that church growth as seen in the Book of Acts incorporated the following four foundational types of growth (adapted from Whitesel and Hunter, 2001):

Acts 2:42-47They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

  • Growing in Maturity (Acts 2:42, 43). Immediately after the Holy Spirit’s visitation at Pentecost, the young church drew together in a time of maturation growth. The significance of its members’ devotion to teaching and fellowship, combined with the attesting miracles, testifies to a congregation maturing in its understanding and practice of spiritual principles.
  • Growing in unity. (Acts 2:44 – 47a). The early church drew together in a unity and harmony that led to selfless acts of inter-reliance. Though pooling their money was not the norm for all or even most New Testament churches, unity and interdependence is certainly a growth goal of all Christian communities. Unity and harmony create an atmosphere of mutual dependence and reciprocity, that bonds participants to the community and their Lord.
  • Growing in favor. “…and enjoying the favor of all the people” (Acts 2:47b). Church growth includes growth in testimony and respect among the unchurched people of the community. The result can be openness to the Good News. Too often however, an adversarial role develops between the church and the community. In reality, the role should be one of mutual respect, appreciation and communication. When a church is meeting the felt needs of the community, the church will receive the community’s gratitude and acknowledgement. This gratitude then becomes a powerful conduit through which the Good News flows into a community.
  • Growing in numbers. “And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” ( 47c). The aftermath of the first three types of church growth is the last; growth in numerical size.