Monday, September 25, 2006

church growth and pastoral effectiveness

My friend Shane Raynor at Wesley Blog posted these persuasive points about why we should believe in the appropriateness of church growth. I've just posted his points, not his article. So I encourage you to read the article. Its good.

Open Hearts: Developing a Church Growth Mindset
1- If a church isn't growing, it's dying.

2- A healthy church must be multi-generational.
3- It is about the numbers.
4- People need God.

5- Church should not be a safe place.

I'll be candid about a struggle that I have with church growth.
First, I believe in church growth. I agree with Shane completely on all these points. I think it is the right evangelical perspective to take.

Second, I struggle with the relationship between being an effective pastor and church growth. I spoke with my District Superintendent about this at my last consultation. I've really struggled with whether or not I'm called to be in pastoral ministry, because the church where I serve as Associate Pastor is not growing. I've come up with some great excuses for why its not growing that could make it not be my fault. But at the same time, I believe that a church should grow and a pastor should help it grow. If its not growing, whose fault is it? Passing the buck does not feel like the responsible approach to take, but if I accept the buck, what should I do? (That's assuming that I'm doing all that I personally can to help the church grow. If I'm just lazy, then that could be the problem.)

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Take heart Jason. From comments you have left on other blogs not everyone in your church is welcoming to newcomers. It takes time for the culture to change, and it takes God to do it. Continue to allow him to work through you, because His hand is upon you.

Anonymous said...

Jason,

One of my issue with the UMC hierachy is what is meant by evangelization and outreach.

There were others that felt the UMC as a denomination had lost its way and the concept of "circuit riders" was ancient history.

The Mission Society was created to meet a need for sharing the Gospel to the word. They are wholly independent organization of volunteers within the UMC who feel that the demonination's method of evangelizing is inadequate, inept, and non-biblical. UMC Pastors should not be afraid to preach outside the four walls of their physical church building.

http://www.msum.org/go/about

With the recent disaster relief efforts, many Muslim nations refused aid from Christian aid groups if they came also to preach and hand out Bibles. The went as far if an orphan was taken out of the country, the aid agency was to guarantee that child would be raised as a Muslim.

How do we evangelize in a post-Circuit Riders era in this age of political corectness? Is funding for demonination advertising showing a return on the investment? Is the UMC using television and radio to properly evangelize the unchurched and direct them to local UMC churches for further discipleship unto salvation?

John Flores
Frisco, Texas

Mark Winter said...

Jason,

It took me almost 20 years to realize that I wasn't cut out for the pastoral ministry. I had always had a nagging call to creative evangelism, but didn't know what to do with it until I heard about the office of General Evangelist within the UMC.

John is on the right track, I think. A huge contributor to our decline is that mainline pastors are trained and expected to be keepers of the aquarium and not fishers of men. Most church members want nice, safe pastors who preach well but not prophetically. They expect the pastor to keep the flock happy, which means true evangelism (not greeting people at the door but winning lost souls in the world) gets short shrift. Add the institutional expectations of the district & conference on top of all that, and pastors get bogged down with paperwork, meetings and fundraising.

It takes a strong personality to swim against the cultural/bureaucratic tide and become a pastoral leader who guides the flock to the promised land--not a custodian who manages the status quo. But I think that's what it takes in order for our churches to move forward.

Jason Woolever said...

Thanks for the comments guys. Wow Mark. That's encouraging that you found a greater niche for your ministry. I'm assuming that you feel that your in the spot God wants you as an evangelist, is that correct?

Mark Winter said...

Jason,

Yes, I am more content as an evangelist than as pastor. Frankly, I wasn't a corporate leader and that's what seems to be expected of institutional pastors nowadays.