ENGLAND & Churches Outnumber Pubs in the UK

This is effectively the principle first enunciated by Donald McGavran, the church growth guru, who said, “People like to stay with their own people,” the so-called homogeneous unit principle.”

by Peter Brierley, Christianity Today, 5/31/19.

Every village in the United Kingdom used to have a pub, a church, and a general store. Today, pubs (short for “public houses”) have become iconic, a popular destination for visitors to try drinks, traditional pub meals, and the cultural ambiance.

But these local landmarks are closing quickly; only 39,000 are left in England, down a quarter from 20 or so years ago. There are now more church buildings than pubs, according to recent figures announced last month by the National Churches Trust.

But the number of churches overall is falling too, just not as fast. The share of Christians in the UK is declining, as in America and other parts of the Western world. Total secularization isn’t inevitably around the corner for at least two reasons. First, surveys show that many who say they have “no religion” still believe in God, pray, say they have a soul, or even read the Bible. Second, there is actually substantial growth among certain types of churches in the UK, all in the context of God’s promise to build his church.

2017 p.1 WHITESEL WESLEY LAND & LEADERSHIP TOUR

The three biggest UK denominations—Anglicans, Roman Catholics, and Presbyterians—are all declining quite quickly. Overall, their numbers have gone down 16 percent in just the last five years, Presbyterians the fastest (down 19%). Two other major groups are also declining, Baptists and Methodists, but they are much smaller in size.

The three major denominations form 60 percent of church members, and the smaller two another 16 percent. The remaining members often belong to the types of churches that are seeing the most growth right now—many of which have a Pentecostal bent, ranging from immigrant-founded denominations to Hillsong campuses.

Their increase, although significant, is unfortunately not enough to compensate for the drop among the bigger churches, but has moderated the overall decline. I’ll share below which kinds of churches are growing the fastest amid demographic shifts in the UK.

Immigrant churches, black majority churches, and reverse mission churches

London is the epicenter for growing churches. Between 2005 and 2012, overall church attendance (not membership) in London went from 620,000 people to 720,000, a 16 percent increase. The number of churches increased by two a week, from 4,100 to 4,800. During this time, the city welcomed immigrants both from Europe and the rest of the world, its population growing from 7 million to 8 million in 10 years.

Many of those newcomers were Christians and sought a church that spoke their language. More than 50 different languages are spoken in London’s churches; 14 percent of all the services held in the city are not in English.

The trend has since spread into other major urban areas, where churches draw in fellow believers who share the same language, outlook, culture, and so on. This is effectively the principle first enunciated by Donald McGavran, the church growth guru, who said, “People like to stay with their own people,” the so-called homogeneous unit principle.

Many of these churches conducting worship in other languages are Roman Catholic. Others are “black” churches, also called Black Majority Churches (BMCs). They too are immigrants but have been in the UK for much longer, often now in their third or fourth generation.

They first came as part of the Windrush generation, named for the ship that berthed in 1948 with many from the West Indies (the Caribbean). Rejected initially by the native white churches, they formed their own groups, like the New Testament Church of God, Elim Pentecostal Church, Apostolic Church, Assemblies of God, and others.

Read more at … https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2019/may/churches-outnumber-pubs-in-uk-london-attendance-pentecostal.html

NEWNESS & Can Renewing Church Attendees Alone Renew a Church?

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 2012.

Churchgoer Newness

Sometimes leaders pick up this book because deep down inside they want to see their church attendees changed. Leaders are often tired of the wrangling, petty grudges, and poor attitudes that many churchgoers exhibit. Thus, they say to themselves, “If I could only change the people in the church and make them new, that would then change the organization.”

Church leaders are often tired of the wrangling, petty grudges, and poor attitudes that many churchgoers exhibit. Thus, they say to themselves, “if I could only change the people in the church and make them new, that would then change the organization.

Changing people’s attitudes is important. But churchgoer newness is not the vital type of newness that God intends to characterize the uncommon church. Another, more never-ending newness is at the heart of God’s purpose for His Church. There is an eternal newness that springs forth when humans receive supernatural power to change their lives for the good and begin afresh.

Excerpted from ©BobWhitesel, Cure for the Common Church: God’s Plan to Restore Church Health (Indianapolis: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2012), p. 124.

 

NEWNESS & Can Newcomers Alone Renew a Church?

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 2012.

Newcomer Newness & Transfer Growth

… congregations hope that improving their hospitality and assimilation of newcomers will create a new church. And, many helpful books can assist a church in better connecting newcomers to a congregation.[i]

But, while connecting newcomers with a community of faith is an important task, it will not create the all-encompassing sense of newness that is needed to revive a common church. Newcomers certainly bring a sense of expectation, innovation and camaraderie. But the fact is that in many churches the newcomers are refugees from other churches, visiting your church in hopes of something they are not getting at their previous congregation. In fact, there is a name for church growth that results from Christians church-shopping: transfer growth.[ii]

While transfer growth is important, for it helps ensure that Christians are getting plugged into a congregation, it does not create the kind of newness that an uncommon church needs. Donald McGavran said, “By transfer growth is meant the increase of certain congregations at the expense of others… But transfer growth will never extend the church, for unavoidably many are lost along the way.”[iii]

For true newness to spread through a congregation, the supernatural newness that God intended is needed. This a sense of newness arises comes from people in spiritual need being spiritually and physically transformed. Such newness pervades a congregation with a hope and a passion that no other newness can match.

[i] Charles Arn, Heartbeat: How to Turn Passion Into Ministry in Your Church (Longwood, FL: Xulon Publishing, 2010); Gary McIntosh, Beyond the First visit: The Complete Guide to Connecting Guests to Your Church (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2006), Nelson Sercy and Jennifer Henson, Fusion: Turning First-Time Guests into Fully –Engaged Members of Your Church (Ventura, CA: Regal, 2008).

[ii] See Donald McGavran’s explanation of why transfer growth is misleading for it does not reconnecting people back to God, but only to a new Christian fellowship in Understanding Church Growth (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1970), p. 72.

[iii] Donald A. McGavran, Understanding Church Growth (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1970), p. 72.

Excerpted from ©BobWhitesel, Cure for the Common Church: God’s Plan to Restore Church Health (Indianapolis: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2012), pp. 123-124.

GROWTH BY TRANSFER & Donald McGavran’s Warning About the Most Popular Church Growth

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel:  Recent LifeWay and US Census Bureau studies indicate that “transfer growth” is the dominant growth mechanism in North American churches.

Donald McGavran, founder of the Church Growth Movement, warned, “By transfer growth is meant the increase of certain congregations at the expense of others… But transfer growth will never extend the church, for unavoidably many are lost along the way.”[i]

Most evangelicals have looked for a new church in their life. Evangelicals (67 percent) are most likely to have looked for a new church at some point in their lives. Catholics (41 percent) and the “nones”—the religiously unaffiliated—(29 percent) are least likely. (http://factsandtrends.net/2016/12/29/16-things-we-learned-about-evangelicals-in-2016/#.WGZBq4E8KaM)

[i] Donald A. McGavran, Understanding Church Growth (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1970), p. 72.

HUP & Mark DeYmaz on Why McGavran Recommended Heterogeneous Churches

by Mark DeYmaz, Mosiax Conference at Exponential East, 4/25/17.

Donald McGavran suggested that the healthy church was heterogeneous, but with homogeneous cells (or sub congregations).  But the homogeneous unit principle (HUP) which is defined that people “like to become Christians without crossing racial, linguistic or class barriers,” gave the majority church in America a theological rationale to create churches monocultural churches.  Donald McGavran didn’t support this and even warned that focusing on one culture can make the church racist.

(On his website, Mark continues)

What may surprise you, however, is what Donald McGavran himself had to say about the HUP: “It is primarily a missionary and an evangelistic principle.” And in an apparently prophetic admonition, McGavran also warned that with any misunderstanding or application of the HUP, “there is a danger that congregations…become exclusive, arrogant, and racist. That danger must be resolutely combated.” Such quotes from within the context of his life and ministry clearly reveal McGavran’s understanding of the HUP: what it is and what it is not. More importantly, McGavran’s words reveal his expectation that a healthy local church will reflect God’s heart for all people in ways that go beyond mere mission statements and the race and class distinctions of this world that so often and otherwise divide.

In my new highly innovative eBook, Should Pastors Accept or Reject the Homogeneous Unit Principle?you will learn that the HUP was never intended by McGavran as a strategy for drawing more believers into church or for growing a church in the sense of how most are taught to think of it today. Rather, the HUP was originally mined and refined as “a strategy to reach unbelievers—a missionary principle” according to Donald McGavran, himself. Yet from its introduction in the United States, the HUP has played right into our natural, all-too-American, desire to become real big, real fast: and it works. In other words, to grow a big church, you simply target a specific people group: give them the music they want, the facilities they desire, in the neighborhoods where they live, and “they” will come…whoever “they” are.

77D60D40-6B02-408E-9AB1-0A662C12F3B2-1-2048x1536-orientedHere is Mark’s diagram.  The “umbrella” at the top represents the heterogeneous church as an organization.  The lines and circles represent “cells” (or I would call larger cells = sub-congregations) of different cultures that are part of the same church.

Read more about DeYmaz’s rediscovery of the original intent of the HUP here: http://www.markdeymaz.com/glue/2011/08/should-pastors-accept-or-reject-the-hup.html

GROWTH & Is Transfer Growth Correlated to Slowing Church Growth?

By Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 12/6/15.

In my case study research, I have noticed a correlation between a church plateaued in growth and emerging “transfer growth.” This hypothesis is the result of 20+ years consulting for churches (regardless of their size from megachurch to microchurch). Each time I ask dozens of people: A) when did you give your life to Christ, B) when did you start attending this church and C) why did you attended this particular church.

To understand this hypothesis, we must understand “transfer growth” and “conversion growth.”  HERE is the definition for “transfer growth” and “conversion growth” by Donald McGavran from his book Understanding Church Growth (1970, p. 72. Primarily transfer growth is growth that comes at the expense of other churches.

From my interviews, I have found that people often leave other churches to transfer their attendance to a church that offers a higher quality of experience/service and/or a greater scope in ministry.

Sometimes this is fine. In fact, I have posted four (4) times when transfer growth is justifiable HERE.

But I have also worked with many smaller churches and have observed first-hand how transfer growth is decimating and killing many churches. Now, some church consultants would say this is okay, “Let them die if they don’t want to change,” said one colleague. But, I know he doesn’t consult for these often aging, declining churches.  He doesn’t see that there are many dear saints in these churches that are of a different “culture” that the emerging younger generations.  This church growth consultant (if I even dare call him that) does not understand missiology and cultures.  And so, he colonizes in the name of progress not noticing that his emphasis upon transfer growth is robbing struggling churches of the few young people they need to plant a new congregation out of the older one.

I sense from my interviews that  people leave their smaller church because they are focusing more on their own needs and how they want a higher quality experience for themselves. They are attracted by the “quality” (sometimes referred to as “excellence in ministry”) and it is this they seek rather than a deepening self-giving relationship with Christ.

These are my observations from case studies. And my case studies are a skewed sample because they are typically Evangelical churches that have asked a church growth consultant to to consult for them. But this hypothesis is worthy of further study.

To understand this dynamic better read McGavran’s words (1970, p. 72) from the screenshot below about of the definition of transfer growth.

EXCERPT McGavran Transfer & Conversion Growth

GROWTH & Good/Bad Reasons for Church Transfer Growth (+ term defined)

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel:  Below are the definitions for “transfer growth” & “conversion growth” by Donald McGavran from his book Understanding Church Growth (1970 p. 72). Primarily transfer growth is growth that comes at the expense of other churches, when churchgoers transfer their attendance to another church. As McGavran summarizes, “… transfer growth will never extend the church, for unavoidably many are lost along the way.”

EXCERPT McGavran Transfer & Conversion Growth

The reasons for “transfer growth” are many, but can include:

  1. Christians moving to a new location and transferring their attendance to a church in the new area.
  2. Christians wanting to start over in a new church, e.g. blend a family, remarriage, hurt by previous church, hurt others in a previous church, etc.
  3. Christians wanting to receive some ministry or to participate in some ministry that is not offered in their previous church.
  4. Christians want a higher quality experience that the new church (usually bigger) can offer.

The list could go on and on.  But, in the above abbreviated list my observations are that:

  • #1 and #2 are usually justifiable reasons for transfer growth.
  • #3 can often be a justifiable reason, unless the transferee is avoiding the responsibility of initiating such a ministry at their former church.
  • #4 can be the result of the person not getting the ministry they need.

But #4 can also be the result of the person focusing upon the quality, comfortableness and anonymity that comes from a church producing very high quality ministry. I have interviewed many people who transferred their attendance because of a growing personal desire for less personal engagement, less un-comfortableness and less personal effort expended.

Another, more selfless, model for discipleship is depicted in Philippians 2: 2-19 (Common English Bible, retrieved from  https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Philippians%202&version=CEB):

Imitate Christ

Therefore, if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort in love, any sharing in the Spirit, any sympathy, complete my joy by thinking the same way, having the same love, being united, and agreeing with each other. Don’t do anything for selfish purposes, but with humility think of others as better than yourselves. Instead of each person watching out for their own good, watch out for what is better for others. Adopt the attitude that was in Christ Jesus:

Though he was in the form of God,
        he did not consider being equal with God something to exploit.
But he emptied himself
        by taking the form of a slave
        and by becoming like human beings.
When he found himself in the form of a human,
        he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death,
        even death on a cross.
Therefore, God highly honored him
        and gave him a name above all names,
10     so that at the name of Jesus everyone
        in heaven, on earth, and under the earth might bow
11         and every tongue confess that
            Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Carry out your salvation

12 Therefore, my loved ones, just as you always obey me, not just when I am present but now even more while I am away, carry out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 God is the one who enables you both to want and to actually live out his good purposes. 14 Do everything without grumbling and arguing 15 so that you may be blameless and pure, innocent children of God surrounded by people who are crooked and corrupt. Among these people you shine like stars in the world 16 because you hold on to the word of life. This will allow me to say on the day of Christ that I haven’t run for nothing or worked for nothing. 17 But even if I am poured out like a drink offering upon the altar of service for your faith, I am glad. I’m glad with all of you. 18 You should be glad about this in the same way. Be glad with me!

 

PRAYER & Listen To the Founder of the Church Growth Movement, Donald McGavran, Praying

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 11/27/15.

Whey my students study the importance of measurement they often notice that a champion of measurement was Donald McGavran, the founder of Fuller Seminary’s School of World Mission (now School of Intercultural Studies).

Yet most people don’t know that McGavran was also a strong proponent of prayer and its impact upon effective evangelism.

A student came across a Wheaton College website that included sound clips of Donald McGavran praying before he teaches on church growth.  I thought it might be an interesting addendum to this discussion.

http://www.wheaton.edu/bgc/archives/docs/mcgpra.htm

Here are a few transcripts from this archive, to give you a glimpse inside of this man’s heart.

(PS  I am a guest professor for Wheaton College.  I toured the Billy Graham Museum and it is an amazing history of evangelism in North America.  If any of you are near the northwest side of Chicago, you must visit the powerful (and free 🙂 Billy Graham Museum at Wheaton College.)

Collection 178, T32 – January 3, 1979 (81 seconds)

[Tape begins in the midst of the prayer]…growth of Your church our first act is to give thanks to Your for the church, the body our Christ, Your household, a sure refuge in the midst of storms, a mighty instrument Lord in Your hand for the reformation of men and societies. We thank You for what each one of us owes to the church. None of us would be here, would be saved, would have hope of heaven or power on earth but for the church. We thank You for the tremendous extension of the church throughout the earth and for the army of missionaries for the gospel, who generation after generation have gone out to proclaim the Good News and disciple the nations. Most of all, good Lord, we thank You for Jesus Christ, the head of the church, our savior and our Lord. Grant, we beseech You, to each of us Your special blessing as we study how to extend the church, how to multiply congregations, how to increase units of the redeemed, units of peace and justice in all peoples, all tribes, all casts. all classes of society that praise and thanksgiving to Your glory may resound from every city and hamlet throughout the earth. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.

Collection 178, Tape T34 – January 8, 1979 [98 seconds]

[Audio of the first half of the prayer badly distorted on the original recording] Let us pray. Gracious God, You are all pervading love enfolds us. Your salvation, made known of old through Your prophets and made operational in the life and death of our savior, flows fast and wide throughout the earth. You send forth a constant stream of missionaries of the Gospel, that those who live in darkness may know the light of the world, even our Lord Jesus Christ. We stand amazed, Lord, at the extent and diversity of the missionary laborers of Your household. We stand even more amazed and humbled and affrighted at the enormous numbers of those who have not yet heard that there is a savior and that by belief in Him sinful men may become righteous and [words unclear] blind men may receive eternal life. [Brief section missing] through the expansion of Christianity, and the advance of the Gospel, and plan for the birth of multitudes of new congregations of the redeemed. Among all the thousands of pieces of the human mosaic, touch our eyes that we may see the truth, and touch our hearts that we may burn with compassion, and steel our wills, good Lord, that we may do those things that we know we ought to do. This we ask in Christ’s blessed name. Amen.

Collection 178, T51 – February 16, 1979 (107 seconds)

Let us pray together. We gather before You, O Lord our God, as men whom You have called, called to be Your ministers and missionaries and administrators. Into our hands ,good Lord, You have delivered considerable ability and resources. You have appointed us as stewards. And You have given us responsibilities and from us You will require an accounting. And we are told that it is required of a steward that he be found faithful. We discharge our duties, O Lord, in a very complex world where many priorities war within us and without us. We live in such a welter of demands. So many people are shouting that we should follow what they think is important, and our own hearts, Lord, are pulled this way and that. And so we cry to You our compassionate God, send out Your light and Your truth. Let them lead us. In this class and in every class help us discern what is Your clear command and where we are left to do what we think best. Help us weigh most carefully between two appealing courses of action. Show Your clear light of Your revelation on our pathway. And above all, O God, give us the courage to walk the paths which You show to us. In Christ’s name. Amen.

EFFECTIVE EVANGELISM & Where/How Did the Church Growth Movement Arise?

by Bob Whitesel, D.Min., Ph.D., 10/26/15.

“Effective Evangelism” was the name that Donald McGavran hoped would be its label. And, what came to be known as the Church Growth Movement was actually started by missionaries, who were appalled how ministry in North America is conducted so haphazardly and imprecisely. They argued (among other things) that such a haphazard approach would not be tolerated by mission agencies.

Let me explain. They basically said that just as missionaries are held accountable by people back home to grow a church in the mission field, so too should those churches back home be held accountable to grow (and reach more people with the Good News).  Some churches stepped up to the challenge and began to measure their growth, just the way missionaries had to.  But other churches said they were focusing on “quality” rather than “quantity.”  But, missionaries knew the “quality” excuse didn’t work for them in the mission field, and so they didn’t think people back home should use it to explain their lack of growth either.  Missionaries were saying, “If you are going to make us measure the growth and health of our churches in the mission field or you will cut-off funding; then maybe your churches back home should live by the same standard.”  Here is what one missionary said to me, “We’ve got so many church in America that haven’t won a single person to Christ in 20 years.  Yet, the church leaders still beg for money and the people and the denomination pour more and more money into churches without results.  That would never be tolerated in the mission field.  If we didn’t grow a church by sharing the Good News with people, the mission agency would pull the plug on our mission work, ‘in the name of the churches back home who support the missionaries.’  It is time we pull the plug on a lot of American churches that aren’t fulfilling the Great Commission and stop propping up ineffective ministries in American that we would never tolerate overseas” (personal conversation, Pasadena, CA 2004).

Now, the Church Growth Movement didn’t just criticize American churches, but the movement actually spawned researchers, writers and consultants who dedicated their lives to helping the church in America grow by sharing the Good News (I’m one of those researcher/writers it spawned).

PHOTO McGavran Youg & with a pickSo, here are a few books that lay the groundwork for the Church Growth Movement by a life-long missionary: Dr. Donald McGavran. If you purchase a copy of the first, and maybe the second, you won’t regret it. He demonstrates how the Church Growth Movement was created by missionaries to reach North America. In many ways, missionaries has historically been better strategists and bridge-builders. We need to learn their craft in North America.

http://www.amazon.com/Understanding-Church-Growth-Anderson-McGavran/dp/0802804632/sr=1-1/qid=1162845529/ref=sr_1_1/102-4814830-8138544?ie=UTF8&s=books

http://www.amazon.com/Bridges-God-Study-Strategy-Missions/dp/1597522503/sr=1-2/qid=1162845529/ref=sr_1_2/102-4814830-8138544?ie=UTF8&s=books

And, here you can order a definitive biography of Donald McGavran, written by researcher and writer Gary McIntosh: http://www.churchleaderinsights.com/bio

Finally, here is a downloadable white paper introduction to McGavran by McIntosh: http://www.churchgrowthnetwork.com/s/PassionofDonaldMcGavran-li0f.pdf

TENURE & Most healthy churches led by a pastor who has been there a long time

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel:  When is it time for a leader to leave a church? And how is the centrality of Christ enhanced or undermined by our transitions?  What happens afterwards? And, how does the centrality of Christ figure into the important decision that a leader must make about moving on?

These are some of the questions students often ask themselves, and which some of my readers may even be asking at the present.

A colleague of mine, who studied as did I in the Doctor of Ministry program at Fuller Seminary, wrote an interesting article about his topic.  In addition, he reflected on the man who greatly influenced my life, and who many say started the Church Growth Movement, missiologist Dr. Donald McGavran.  I thought you might enjoy theses reflections of Rick Warren, and that they might provide some food for thought during this week’s discussions.

———

“One reason churches grow,” by: Rick Warren, 3/2/06, retrieved from http://www.christianpost.com/news/discovering-my-purpose-driven-principles-13991

LAKE FOREST, Calif. –In 1974, I served as a student missionary to Japan. I lived with a Southern Baptist missionary couple in their home in Nagasaki. One day, while rummaging through the missionary‚s library, I picked up an old copy of HIS, a Christian student magazine published by InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.

As I thumbed through its pages, a picture of a fascinating older man with a goatee and sparkling eyes caught my attention. The article‚s subtitle said something like „Why is this man dangerous?” As I sat there and read the article on Donald McGavran, I had no idea that it would impact dramatically the direction of my ministry as much as an earlier encounter with W.A. Criswell had.

The article described how McGavran, a missionary born in India, had spent his ministry studying what makes churches grow. His years of research ultimately led him to write “The Bridges Of God” in 1955 and a dozen more books on growing churches that are considered classics today.

Just as God used W.A. Criswell to sharpen the focus of my life mission from ministry in general to being a pastor, God used the writings of Donald McGavran to sharpen my focus from pastoring an already established church to planting the church that I would pastor. Like Paul declared in Romans 15:20, „It has always been my ambition to preach the Gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else‚s foundation.‰

McGavran brilliantly challenged the conventional wisdom of his day about what made churches grow. With a biblical basis and simple but passionate logic, McGavran pointed out that God wants His church to grow; He wants His lost sheep found!

The issues raised by McGavran seemed especially relevant to me as I observed the painfully slow growth of churches in Japan. I made a list of eight questions to which I wanted to find the answers:

— How much of what churches do is really biblical?

— How much of what we do is just cultural?

— Why do some churches grow and others die on the vine?

— What causes a growing church to stop growing, plateau and then decline?

— Are there common factors found in every growing church?

— Are there principles that will work in every culture?

— What are the barriers to growth?

— What are the conventional myths about growing churches that aren‚t true anymore (or never were)?

The day I read the McGavran article, I felt God direct me to invest the rest of my life discovering the principles — biblical, cultural and leadership principles — that produce healthy, growing churches. It was the beginning of a life-long study.

In 1979, I was working as a grader for Roy Fish, professor of evangelism, and finishing my final year at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. I decided to do an independent study of the 100 largest churches in the United States at that time. I wrote to each of these churches and asked a series of questions I had prepared. Although I discovered that large, growing churches differ widely in strategy, structure, and style, there were some common denominators. My study confirmed what I already knew from Criswell’s ministry: Healthy, large churches are led by pastors who have been there a long time. I found dozens of examples. A long pastorate does not guarantee a church will grow, but changing pastors every few years guarantees a church won’t grow.

Can you imagine what the kids would be like in a family where they got a new daddy every two or three years? They would most likely have serious emotional problems. In the same way, the longevity of the leadership is a critical factor for the health and growth of a church family. Long pastorates make deep, trusting, and caring relationships possible. Without those kinds of relationships, a pastor won’t accomplish much of lasting value.

Churches that rotate pastors every few years will never experience consistent growth. I believe this is one reason for the decline of some denominations. By intentionally limiting the tenure of pastors in a local congregation, they create “lame duck” ministers. Few people want to follow a leader who isn’t going to be around a year from now. The pastor may want to start all sorts of new projects, but the members will be reticent because they will be the ones having to live with the consequences long after the pastor has been moved to another church.

Knowing the importance of longevity in growing a healthy church I prayed, “Father, I’m willing to go any place in the world you want to send me. But I ask for the privilege of investing my entire life in just one location. I don‚t care where you put me, but I‚d like to stay wherever it is for the rest of my life.”
—-
Rick Warren is pastor of Saddleback Valley Community Church in Lake Forest, Calif., and author of “The Purpose-Driven Life.”

EVANGELISM & A Link To Donald McGavran’s Original Article: The Bridges of God

by Bob Whitesel, 3/4/15.

A former student in my “Growing a Multi-Generational Church” course once said, “Once the message (Good News) gets into the culture, then it is like an infection and spreads more rapidly, easily.”

QUOTE McGavran on Bridges of God copyTo depict this, Donald McGavran used the metaphor of  “the bridges of God,” suggesting we must:

  • build multiple bridges to a culture
  • across which the Good News can travel
  • more quickly
  • and concurrently.

Here is a downloadable version of Donald McGavran’s seminal article on “The Bridges of God:”

ARTICLE_McGavran_Bridges_of_God

(From The Bridges of God [Revised Edition] by Donald Anderson McGavran. Published in the United Kingdom by World Dominion Press, 1955. Revised edition 1981. Distributed in the United States by Friendship Press, New York. Used by permission.)