On church growth and church planting.
Here is my simple thought on this. In order for a church to grow it needs to be church. If you are going to plant a church you need to know what church is. It is therefore incumbent on anyone who endeavors to either plant a church or “grow” a church that they keep in mind what the church is, Sheep who hear the voice of their shepherd and listen to him.”
Now from this little definition of the church it seems that the voice of the Shepherd is absolutely necessary to being church. This means that a pastor who wants to plant a church or grow a church must preach the Gospel first and foremost. IF the pastor does not know what the gospel is, then the church is not going to grow no matter how many people attend his synagogue on Sunday.
The Gospel is Good News. That is what it means. And it isn’t the good news that God has a plan to bring your marriage back together. It is the Good News that Christ died for you sins, to forgive them and rose from the dead to give you life. It is actually quite that simple. This is why the original church planter if I can call him that, Paul, preached nothing but Christ Crucified, and knew nothing else among the Corinthians. That was all that was needed.
Or one could attack it the other way. If the church is to be found where the Gospel is preached in its purity, and the sacraments are administered according to Christ’s institution. Then what ever you’re doing in the coffee shop isn’t church, or an expression of church. It may be a Bible Study, and that would be great. But it isn’t church. There is one expression of church, and that is the expression Christ has given to it himself in his commands to preach the Gospel and administer the sacraments.
Now there is a need to take the gospel to the people. I won’t deny that. But there has to be some limits on what we are calling church and what is evangelism, a function of the church. If you can’t define the gospel or even church then you probably ought not be writing about how to grow a church or how to be a mission shaped church or any other such nonsense.
And when you grasp that church is the Gospel and the sacraments, Christ coming to his people, the Shepherd calling his people, giving voice to the good news, then you are probably going to be less inclined to dress church up in meaningless ditties and irreverent forms of worship. You are probably going to recognize the need for a certain amount of formality in the worship service to convey the importance of what is happening.
Well that is my thoughts for the day on that subject. It could be fleshed out a bit more, but maybe in the comments.