Church-growth is all the rage these days in American Christianity. It seems that the number one question every pastor has to answer is, “How are you going to grow this church?” There are a multitude of books, audio CDs, DVDs, and conference teachings that church leaders spend millions on each year trying to find the magic formula that will grow their church. Mega-church pastors are touring the nation, teaching the principles and strategies they used to grow their church from a two-family Bible study in their living room to a several thousand member congregation meeting on a multi-million dollar campus.
Borrowing business strategies from Wall Street, modern churches look more like a sterile organization than a sanctified organism. Pastors and leadership teams construct purpose and mission statements, conduct market research and execute business plans containing marketing strategies, investment portfolios and real estate acquisition proposals. Just like the nation of Israel, what we call the church today looks more like the world than what the Holy Spirit described in 1 Peter 2:9:
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
As I considered my recent call to pastor the sweet folks at SweetWater Baptist, I did what any good prospective pastor would do. I asked myself the golden question, “How am I going to grow this church?” However, I did not look to the church-growth gurus or Wall Street for ideas or strategies. Instead I looked to the Bible, believing it to be the Word of God and all sufficient to accomplish all that God has purposed. In it I believe we are told all we need in order to live well and die well and everything in between. So to answer the question, “How am I going to grow this church?” I went to the Bible and asked, “Well, how does God say to do it?”
I have searched and found what the Bible says in regards to church growth. I have called it the "Bulletproof Church Growth Strategy" based on Jesus' words in Matthew 16:18:
Jesus cannot fail. No matter how pitiful His church looks at times, He is the sovereign God of all that is and has decreed that He will build for Himself a people, created in His image, purchased with His blood, sanctified by His Spirit, and finally reigning with Him as joint heirs to all that the Father has given Him. There is not even a thought of failure; no plan B. Bulletproof.
This truth gives me so much hope and peace, especially in the tumultuous days in which we live. Therefore, in the coming weeks, I will unpack the purpose and mission statements, as well as the actual strategy we at SweetWater will employ to be the church that He created us to be: the people of God. I hope you will be encouraged and strengthened in your own walk as we examine the strategy of a God who cannot fail. Soli Deo Gloria!