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Quicksand

posted Feb 24, 2016, 9:27 AM by Parish Administrator
Bishop Mariann encourages clergy and churches to learn from other denominations the things
that work for church health.  I have tried to take this exhortation to heart by spending a few hours each week researching what is going on in other churches.  This week I have been pondering an article from Baylor University called "Church Growth Quick Sand."  It has given me much food for thought, and as we move towards our Annual Meeting, I want to share an excerpt with you:

Quicksand Pool #1: Running your church like a business.  Business corporations are run by performance-oriented executives who strive to maximize market share through catering to consumers.  Corporations are organized around departments that aggressively compete for budgets and resources, and employees are hired and fired on the basis of pulling their own weight.  The bottom line is performance. 

The larger a church grows, the more it struggles with keeping its priorities pure.  Because Christ is the church's undisputed CEO, spiritual, not business, goals must be first and foremost in the life of the church.  Staff and lay leaders should be evaluated on the basis of their spiritual maturity and devotion to Christ rather than on their business acumen.  

That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. (Ephesians 1:17)

Quicksand Pool #2Defining growth strictly in statistical and numerical terms.  Most churches expend great energy keeping meticulous statistical records on everything from attendance, to giving, visitors, and who attends committee meetings.  But how much time and attention are given to fervency of prayer, evangelistic outreach, willingness to confess and forgive, and devotion to the study of God's Word?  These qualitative aspects of a congregation's spiritual life are God's highest priority for church growth.  Having an up-trending growth line on the statistical chart is great, unless it tempts church leaders to smugly conclude that "We're sure doing a great job! 

Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink, and be merry.  But God said to him, You fool!  This very night your soul is required of you.... (Luke 12:19-20)

Quicksand Pool #3:  Treating other congregations and denominations as competitors and rivals.  Churches and denominations may peacefully co-exist in our society, but that doesn't mean all is well in the Christian community.  Why don't more churches, especially from the same denomination, engage in mutually advantageous ministry partnerships?  Why isn't there more spiritual fellowship between members of the extended body of Christ?  Why aren't expensive church facilities and scarce assets shared to a greater extent? 
 
In keeping with our individualistic culture, most congregations operate out of an isolationist mindset that reflects an unspoken sense of rivalry and competitiveness with other churches in the community.  Church leaders are rarely eager to share facilities or cooperate in joint ministries because they want to be in control (even though Christ is supposed to be).  When presented the opportunity to pool resources or co-minister with another local church, most congregations can't seem to get beyond fretting about purely mundane matters, such as how to divide up the budget.  

Inter-church and inter-denominational cooperation is a sadly overlooked dimension of church growth.  Think of how much extraordinary ministry could be accomplished and scarce resources saved if congregations could only find a way to work together rather than endlessly duplicating their efforts and resources.
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