ORGANIC OUTREACH & The Importance of Cultural Bridges w/ Believers Living on the Other Side

“By means of the ‘Gentile on the bridge’ there came to be in town after town within a comparatively short time a considerable number of Gentile converts who remained in close organic connection with large numbers of unconverted relatives.” Donald McGavran

  • The above quote is from p. 34 of The Bridges of God, by Donald A. McGavran.
  • Secure your copy of McGavran’s biography by Gary McIntosh by clicking the link.

EVALUATION & Clearing the Universal Fog Over 2 Types of Goals: Tactical & Strategic

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 12/11.15.

One of the primarily culprits of goals not being met is not having “measureable” goals.  And, there are two types of goals that should be measured.

TACTICAL GOALS:  Tactical goals (such as “start an  ESL program” or “launch a new small group”) are specific tactical (i.e. planning) goals that support “broader” and “wide-ranging” church goals.

STRATEGIC GOALS:  These broader, more wide-ranging church goals are strategic goals, and they could be something like: “to have more congregants involved in Bible study, fellowship opportunities and prayer meetings than last year.”  These goals are strategic goals, and they can be traced back to metrics Luke described in Acts 2:42-47. Though Luke was not saying every church needed to use these metric, he did use them himself to describe for posterity “how” the church grew after Peter’s sermon.  For more on these metrics click here … https://churchhealthwiki.wordpress.com/2014/10/20/church-growth-a-definition-mcgavran-housedividedbook/

DIFFERENCES:  For more on the differences between tactics and strategies see … https://churchhealthwiki.wordpress.com/2015/06/12/measurement-a-reliable-valid-tool-to-measure-church-growthhealth-organixbook/

Leadership Exercise

Here is a leadership exercise to help you think about and differentiate between these two types of goals.  This exercise will look at how we should measure individual tactical actions (e.g. start a new ministry, etc.) and how we should measure bigger strategic goals (e.g. if the church is growing in maturity, unity and service to the community paralleling the metrics Luke used).

A) Listen.  The audio attachment though prepared for my students, will give leaders ideas about how to undertake this leadership exercise.

 

 

B) Read.  This exercise will make a lot more sense if you read the pdf from “A House Divided” that is provided here:  (It is also provided to my students in their weekly course materials).   So, read the “House Divided – Evaluate Your Success” pdf and then listen to the audio recording and you should be on your way toward dispelling the “universal fog” that surrounds most church leadership (for more on the universal fog, see “A Universal Fog” and “The Facts Needed” in Donald A. McGavran’s Understanding Church Growth [Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1970], 76-120).

C) Discuss by answering the first two questions, and then one of the following of the following questions for discussion.

1) Share two things you learned about the differences between a tactical goal and a strategic goal.

2) Give an example of a strategic goal and then a tactical goal that might support it.

3) Which is usually easier to measure?

4) Which do leaders usually focus upon?

5) What do you think Dr. McGavran meant by the term: “universal fog?”

AN OVERVIEW of MEASUREMENT METRICS: In four of my books I have updated and modified a church measurement tool.  You will find a chapter on measurement in each of these books:

Cure for the Common Church, (Wesleyan Publishing House), chapter “Chapter 6: How Does a Church Grow Learners,” pp. 101-123.
> ORGANIX: Signs of Leadership in a Changing Church (Abingdon Press), “Chapter 8: Measure 4 Types of Church Growth,” pp. 139-159.
> Growth By Accident, Death By Planning (Abingdon Press), “Chapter 7: Missteps with Evaluation,” pp. 97-108/
> A House Divided: Bridging the Generation Gaps In Your Church (Abingdon Press), “Chapter 10: Evaluate Your Success,” pp. 202-221.

I explain that church growth involves four types of congregational growth.  It is a seriously incorrect assumption to assume church growth is all about numbers.  It is only 1/4 about numbers and 3/4 about the other types of growth mentioned in Acts 2:42-47.  In the New Testament we find…

> Maturation Growth, i.e. growth in maturity,Acts 2:42-43.
> Growth in Unity: Acts 2:44-46.
> Growth in Favor, i.e. among non-Christians, Acts 2:47a.
> Growth in number of salvations, i.e. which God does according to this verse, Acts 2:47b.

For more see … https://churchhealthwiki.wordpress.com/2015/06/12/measurement-a-reliable-valid-tool-to-measure-church-growthhealth-organixbook/

STO LEADERSHIP & Are You a Strategic, Tactical or Operational Leader? These Stories Will Help You Find Out.

by Bob Whitesel Ph.D., 7/11/15.

In a previous post (and in my book “Preparing for Change Reaction”) I explained that leaders usually fail because they don’t surround themselves with leaders whose gifts complement theirs.  There are three basic “meta-categories” of leaders: strategic leaders, tactical leaders and operational leaders (see this short 12 minute video for an introduction).  While almost everyone has a mixture, usually one dominants you.  Click here >> BOOK BW EXCERPT CR Change Reaction Chpt.2 STO Leaders ©Dr.Whitesel for a questionnaire (p. 12) to find your mix if you have not already done so.

Then read these stories of the missionaries below. They illustrate that missionaries too have a dominant leadership gift.  Here first is a story from Frances Chan’s book about Rachel.  Read her story and then tell us what kind of leader does she appear to be?

When she was 18 she traveled the world with a wealthy woman, who promised to make her her heiress if she would keep her company where ever she went, but she turned it down. Later she became a bible translator in South Africa, but developed a love of the language of the Waorani Indians in Ecuador.

The Waorani Indians were notorious for spearing to death any outsider who came close, they were not open at all. Rachel’s brother was actually killed by the Indians earlier. But Rachel felt compelled to bring the gospel to them.

Eventually she met a Waorani woman and gained her trust and was able to integrate safely into the tribe. She brought the gospel to the Indians and changed their culture from one of hatred and revenge to that of love and healing.

They trusted her so much they gave her the Waorani name of Nimu which means star.

Eventually she translated the New Testament into their language and  when she died they said of her, “she called us brothers, She told us how to believe. Now she is in heaven…God is building a house for all of us and that is where we will see Nimu again.” (Crazy Love, p. 154-155).

I’ve often noted that missionaries such as Rachel have a type of leadership that we often overlook in North America due to the more exciting leadership types.  So, let me ask a question of my readers.

What kind of leader does Rachel appear to be: strategic, tactical or operational?  I know she has a bit of all three, but what one primarily motivates her and would she do all the time if she could?

Next, here is a story about Dr. Donald McGavran and his early missionary work as a young man just starting out in the missionary vocation.  Read this description by Stephanie Folkringa (Wesley Sem. Student, March 2011), and tell us what kind of leader Donald McGavran appears to be?

PHOTO McGavran Youg & with a pick“When McGavran returned to India for the second time, he served as the executive secretary of mission, where he worked with 80 missions, 5 hospitals, high schools, and primary schools.  McGavran became the superintendent of a leprosy home and hospital.  He became an expert on the Hindi language and translated the Gospel into the Chattisgarhi dialect.”

So, what kind of leader do you think Dr. McGavran was primarily: strategic, tactical or operational?  I know, like Rachael, he was a bit of all three (as are we). But, from this description of this early ministry, what primarily style of leadership did Dr. McGavran appear to enjoy the most: strategic, tactical or operational?

Speaking hashtags: #BetterTogether

MISSIONAL & Are You a Mission Station or a Missional Community? #DonaldMcGavran

by Bob Whitesel, 3/17/15. 

Missiologist Dr. Donald McGavran often criticized the “mission station approach” to missions. Still, if this is the first time you’ve heard the term it doesn’t sound so bad. But a little history about the term and how it was abused can help us be more effective in helping others today.

The “mission station approach” to outreach became a fairly common term to describe how in mission work, a foreign entity (like the Lutheran Church of Germany for example) would set up “mission stations” (such as in South Africa) to reach indigenous peoples.  

The mission station was a little enclave, sort of a transplanted European walled-city, that would provide a microcosm of European Christian culture amid the indigenous peoples of the mission field.  The language in the mission station was the language of the missionaries, and the culture was as well.  The missionaries at the mission station expected the indigenous peoples to come “into” the mission station, learn a European language, dress in European clothes, be taught about Christian culture and accept Jesus.  Needless to say, this was terribly ineffectual.

However, it was not until the great missionary awakening that people like William B. Carrey, Albert Schweitzer, and others popularized the more effective contextualization approach. They argued that you “sift” or evaluate culture, rejecting some elements that are anti-Christ and accept other elements that are morally neutral (see Charles Kraft’s “Christianity and Culture” and Lesslie Newbigin’s “Christ and Culture” for an extended … 300+ page… discussion on this).

A colleague of mine, Dr. Ryan Bolger pointed out in a white paper to the American Society of Church Growth (2002) that today most churches have become “mission stations” in North America: we speak a different language, live a different culture and we expect the unchurched people to come “into” our mission stations and adopt our culture.  This is why Darrel Guder in “Missional Church” (1998) points out that in North America we live in a culture that is hostile to Christianity … thus effectively making churches in North America missionary organizations.  (Guder’s book is an excellent introduction to the missional church … it is a modern contextualization of classic Church Growth principles.  And, it is the most highly regarded book outside of the Bible by emerging post-modern church leaders.)

Thus, I think it strategically judicious to embrace the life of missionaries in the North American context (doing so while embracing strategies that are effectual and successful in missiological experience and contexts).

CHANGE & A Comparison of the Major Theories of Change

Interplay Among Popular Explanations of Change

by Bob Whitesel, 3/16/15.

Below is a systematic list which describes how the different forces that control change are reflected in different theories of change. I let me students use this bibliographic list as a starting place for their investigation into varying theories of change.  However I encourage them to not limit themselves to the theories below. The reader should look at how other theories explain change and consider how they fit into a four-force explanation.

The first section of the chart is adapted by myself from Table 1.2, Poole, Marshall Scott (2004). Central issues in the study of change and Innovation. In M. S. Poole & A. H. Van de Ven (Eds.), Handbook of Organizational Change and Innovation (p. 9). Oxford: Oxford University Press. The second section is adapted by myself from Whitesel, B. (2009), The four forces model of change as reflected in church growth literature. The Journal of the Great Commission Research Network, La Mirada, CA: Biola University Press.

For more on the Four Forces That Control Change, you can

Management Theories:

Uni-force theories of change:

  1. Cameron and D. Whetten, 1983 (life-cycle theory)
  2. G. March and H. A. Simon, 1958 (goal-orientated theory)
  3. K. Benson, 1977 (conflict-orientated theory)
  4. T. Hannan and J. H. Freeman, 1977 (trend-orientated theory)

Dual-force theories of change:

  1. B. Clark, 1985 (design hierarchy theory)
  2. Simmel, 1908, L. Closer, 1958 (Group conflict)
  3. G. Astley, 1985 (Community ecology)
  4. Aldrich, 1979 (Adaption-selection models)
  5. E. Greiner, 1972 (organizational growth and crisis stages)
  6. Tushman and E. Romanelli, 1985 (organizational punctuated equilibrium)

Tri-force theories of change:

  1. E. Lindblom, 1965 (partisan mutual adjustment)
  2. E. Weick, 1979 (social psychology of organizing)

Quad-force theories of change:

  1. C. Riegel, 1976 (human development progressions)
  2. D. Cohen, J. G. March and J. P. Olsen, 1972 (garbage can)

 

Church Growth Theories:

Uni-force theories of change:

  1. Glasser, 1976
  2. G. Hunter, 1979
  3. A. Hunter, 2002
  4. Roxburgh, 1998
  5. Martin and G. L. McIntosh 1993
  6. Schaller, 1979, 1983
  7. P. Wagner, 1979, 1981, 1984

Dual-force theories of change:

  1. Arn 1997, 2003
  2. G. Hunter, 1987
  3. A. McGavran, 1955, 1988
  4. A. McGavran and W. Arn, 1973
  5. L. McIntosh, 2000, 2002
  6. L. McIntosh and D. Reeves, 2006
  7. Schaller, 1980
  8. Towns and W. Bird, 2000
  9. P. Wagner, 1971, 1979, 1983, 1999

Tri-force theories of change:

  1. Arn and W. Arn, 1982
  2. Costas, 1983
  3. Gibbs, 1979
  4. Kelly, 1999
  5. Martin and G. McIntosh, 1997
  6. McGavran and G. G. Hunter, 1980
  7. McIntosh, 1979, 2004
  8. Schaller, 1997
  9. P. Wagner, 1976, 1984
  10. Whitesel, 2003, 2004, 2006

Quad-force theories of change:

  1. Gibbs, 1981, 2005
  2. Gibbs and R. Bolger, 2005
  3. L. Guder, et. al., 1985
  4. G. Hunter, 2000
  5. A. McGavran, 1979
  6. A. McGavran and W. Arn, 1977
  7. McIntosh, 2003, 2004
  8. McIntosh and S. D. Rima, 1997
  9. Schaller, 1975
  10. Whitesel, 2008, 2010
  11. Whitesel and K. R. Hunter, 2001

 

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.)

MEASUREMENT & Is Counting Biblical? A Quick Overview #HouseDividedBook

by Bob Whitesel and Kent R. Hunter, excerpted from A House Divided: Bridging the Generation Gaps in Your Church, (Abingdon Press, 2000, p. 206).

HDsmallFew principles have garnered as much controversy as the principle of measuring numerical growth.  However, missiologist and dean of the Church Growth Movement Donald McGavran states that “the Church is made up of countable people and there is nothing particularly spiritual in not counting them.  Men use the numerical approach in all worthwhile human endeavor.” [1]

But some have argued that there is something spiritual about “not counting.”  They would point to God’s displeasure with King David for ordering a census of the people in 1 Chronicles 21:1 – 30.  However, 1 Chronicles 21:1 reveals that it was Satan who inspired David to conduct this counting of his troops.  Even against the counsel of his commander Joab, who discerned David’s inappropriate motivation, David conducts the census.  David’s motivation for the census was to revel in the strength of his army.  But God wanted David to put his trust in God’s protection, rather than the size of his forces.  Hence, wrong motivation and wrong instigation led to an inappropriate counting.

Elsewhere in the Bible, numberings are conducted for meaningful reasons with helpful results.  In Numbers 1:2 and 26:2 God commands numberings of all Israel along with every segment of each tribe before and after the desert wanderings.  In the Gospel accounts we witness accurate countings of Jesus’ team of disciples, and in Luke 10:1 – 24 we see a company of 72 disciples sent out two by two.  In the parable of the lost sheep in Luke 15:3 – 7, only by counting the sheep does the shepherd become aware that one is missing from the fold.  If counting those we are entrusted were odious to Jesus, certainly he would eliminate such imagery from his teaching.  And in Acts 1:15; 2:41; 4:4; Luke records the growth of the church by a careful record of its numerical increase.  McGavran concludes “on biblical grounds one has to affirm that devout use of the numerical approach is in accord with God’s wishes.  On the practical grounds, it is as necessary in congregations and denominations as honest financial dealing.” [2]

—-

[1] Donald A. McGavran, Understanding Church Growth, op. cit., p. 93.

[2] Ibid., p. 94.

PRAYER & Listen to Donald McGavran Praying #Wheaton

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel:  “The Wheaton College website hosts sound clips of Donald McGavran, the father of the Effective Evangelism Movement, praying before he taught a course on church growth: http://www2.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.

Plus, as a visiting professor for Wheaton College, I had the opportunity to tour the Billy Graham Museum and it is an amazing history of evangelism in North America.  If any of you are near the west 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.

WESLEY & CHURCH GROWTH Before McGavran: The Methodological Parallels of John Wesley

by Bob Whitesel D.Min. Ph.D.

Delivered October 3, 2014 to The Annual Conference of The Great Commission Research Network, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Ft. Worth, TX.

Abstract

This article will look at methodological parallels between John B. Wesley and Donald A. McGavran. The influence of both men arose during similar social shifts that were accompanied by a perception of ecclesial apathy. Parallels will be demonstrated in McGavran’s principles of 1) conversion as a priority, 2) effective evangelism as a process model, 3) the danger of redemption and lift, 4) the importance of multiplication and 5) pragmatism in methodology. A final section will look at the legacy of these two men and suggest how identification can help retain focus on principles rather than contextually-bound tactics.

Published in the Great Commission Research Journal (2015).  Delivered in abbreviated form by Dr. Whitesel as a keynote at Renovate: The National Church Revitalization Conference, 11/3/14, Orlando, FL.

Whitesel Wesley RENOVATE 1 copy

Parallel Times

In this article we will look at missiological parallels between the principles of John B. Wesley and Donald A McGavran. Wesley’s methodology was hammered out in mid-18th century England as the Industrial Revolution conquered Europe, driving peasants from agricultural to urban lives in a quest to better their lives though technology. As historian David Watson describers it, “a society which was suffering from radical change and depersonalization.”[1] Only in hindsight would history brand the promises of the Industrial Revolution as overly materialistic and rarely altruistic. Yet amid this cultural shift from organic to mechanistic, spiritual fires leapt from the field sermons and structured discipleship methodology of a former Oxford don.

Not surprisingly in such an era, methods overshadowed principles and soon the derisive appellation “Methodist” was applied to Wesley’s followers. Though they preferred to be called Wesleyans, Wesley would only bend to popular terminology by describing them as “the people called Methodists.[2] Yet the sarcastic term survives and even flourishes in churches and denominations with Wesley’s methodologies in their heritage (though they may not remember what those methods be).

Donald A. McGavran’s principles for what he called effective evangelism[3] were born in a similar cultural transition from farm to factory. In the post-World War II milieu, American ingenuity in science and quantification had defeated Europe’s historical masters of technology: the German nation. Amid the euphoria generated by the passing of the technological baton, Donald A. McGavran began to emphasize measurement and anthropological assessment as valid lenses to follow the unseen movements of the Holy Spirit within societies. Based in part on his background as an executive-level administrator of missionary hospitals in India; McGavran suggested principles and methodologies that appealed to a culture infatuated again with measurement and technology.

But, McGavran and Wesley had similar eye-opening experiences regarding the state of contemporary spirituality. Wesley famously received a letter from his brother Charles, who had just begun his studies at Oxford’s most prestigious seminary: Christ Church College. Charles summed up what he found in these words: “(at Christ Church College) a man stands a very fair chance of being laughed out of his religion.”[4]

McGavran had a similar experience as described by Tim Stafford: “One morning McGavran asked his class what should be the first question a person asks when he reads a biblical passage. One of the most intelligent men answered promptly, ‘What is there in this passage that we cannot believe?’ He meant that anything miraculous or supernatural ought to be deleted or explained as ’poetic.’ ‘I had never before been confronted as bluntly with what the liberal position means to its ordinary Christians.’ McGavran says. ‘It shocked me, and I began at that moment to feel that it could not be the truth’.”[5]

Both men encountered dichotomies that would set their spiritual and tactical trajectories. For both, a popular interpretation of what constitutes biblical spirituality had robbed Christianity of authenticity and relevance. As a result, it should not be unexpected that parallel explorations and codifications of the spiritual journey would result…

DOWNLOAD the presentation handout HERE >>> ARTICLE Whitesel – Wesley & McGavran GCRJ GCRN

DOWNLOAD the Great Commission Research Journal article HERE >>> ARTICLE ©Whitesel – GCRJ Wesley & McGavran

[1] David Lowes Watson, The Early Methodist Class Meeting: Its Origins and Significance (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2002) p. 129.

[2] John Wesley, Letter to John Clayton, 1732.

[3] Similar to what Wesley experienced, McGavran’s more nuanced designation underwent a similar simplification with an accompanying overemphasis upon its tactical nature. Though McGavran preferred his principles be described as effective evangelism (Effective Evangelism: A Theological Mandate, (Presbyterian & Reformed Pub Co, 1988), 43) but much like Wesley 256 years earlier, his work would succumb to the more modish label: church growth.

[4] Kenneth G. C. Newport and Gareth Lloyd, The Letters of Charles Wesley: A Critical Edition, with Instruction and Notes: Volume 1 (1728-1756), (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), 25.

[5] Tim Stafford, “The Father of Church Growth,” Mission Frontiers Journal, January 1986.

#Renovate14   #RenegadePastors

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).

image3

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.

HDsmall

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.

McGAVRAN & The Relevance of Church Growth Principles to Evangelism

by Eddie Gibbs, The ChurchMan Journal: An International Journal of Theology, Watford, England, 1995, Vol. 3, p. 232,

The term ‘church growth’ has become something of a catch-phrase in
a great deal of recent religious promotional material. In the minds of
many people it is synonymous with evangelism or e0rporate renewal.
The author, in using the term ‘church growth’, subscribes to the
following formal definition:

Church growth is that science which investigates the nature, function
and health of the Christian church as it relates specifically to the effective
implementation of God’s commission to ‘make disciples of all
nations’. Church growth is simultaneously a theological conviction, and
an applied science which strives to combine the eternal principles of
God’s Word with the best insights of contemporary social and behavioural
sciences, employing, as its initial frame of reference, the
foundational work done by Dr Donald McGavran.1

This definition makes clear that church growth does not represent a
total theology of mission, but has a specific focus on the making of
disciples and their incorporation into local churches. As such it is an
interdisciplinary study relating missiology to ecclesiology .2

A second point of clarification is to define precisely what is meant
by a ‘church-growth principle’. Donald McGavran defines it this way:
A church-growth principle is a universal truth which, when properly
interpreted and applied, contributes significantly to the growth of
churches and denominations. 3

1 This definition is given by Dr C. Peter Wagner (associate professor of church
growth, Fuller Seminary School of World Mission) in his church-growth course.
2 Orlando Costas has pointed out the danger of an ecclesiastical narrowing of the
concept of mission. He raises the questions: ‘Who is the centre of the kingdom Christ
or the church? Who is the object of the kingdom-the community or the
king? The Church and lts Mission (Tyndale House, Wheaton, m. 1914) p.135.
3 Donald A. McGavran and Winfield C. Am, Ten Steps for Church Growth (Harper
and Row, New York 1977) p.88.

Download the article here … http://www.churchsociety.org/churchman/documents/Cman_095_3_Gibbs.pdf.

McGAVRAN & Basic Tenets of the Church Growth Movement

by Herb Kopp, Directions Journal, Fall 1991, vol. 20, No. 2, pp. 50-66.

BASIC TENETS OF THE CHURCH GROWTH MOVEMENT

It is only fair that in establishing the basic tenets of the Church Growth Movement (CGM) we should go directly to the founding fathers and their writings. Every worthwhile movement soon attracts a fringe element which distorts the defined centre by highlighting one propositional aspect of the movement at the expense of others. The CGM deserves to be defined, not by the fringe element, but by its most serious thinkers.

C. Peter Wagner is correct when he claims that after thirty years of dialogue, testing and writing “. . . the CGM is [now] {51} commonly recognized as a permanent feature on the religious landscape of America and the world.” 1 There are four fundamental issues at the centre of this movement….

Read about the four fundamental tenets at …