Church Evangelism Seminar – #6 – 8 Universal Principles for Natural Church Growth

Now church growth and development is a
field of study that has actually produced a lot of theories, a lot of
books, seminars on the subject, like this one here is a seminar on church growth. Perhaps the difference is this one is
squarely based on very specific types, not types, but very specific
scriptures that deal with the growth of the church. But nevertheless it’s a big field,
a lot of books come out every year about church growth. And no wonder. No wonder that church growth
books and seminars are a growing industry. With less and
less people attending services a more secular society, churches are in decline not just churches
of Christ are not growing the way they should, or in decline, but all
groups, all religious groups, their churches are in decline and they’re
searching for ways to not only win souls or new converts
but also to maintain and motivate existing members
so “church growth stuff” is a growth industry in itself. But a lot of what has been written comes
from ministers of large, what we call, “mega churches” who have packaged their various growth formulas into books and seminars
which propose to help churches reproduce in their own congregation
the success that the mega churches have had. So you have a mega church and they say this is our system, this is how we’ve done it.
And so on and so forth. And here’s 60 lessons in a book
and tape and so on and so forth. And if you do what we do, if you take
the approach we take, then you’ll have the success that we had.
Now the problem with this is that research has shown that
trying to reproduce a growth model by simply copying the system or the
approach of another church rarely works. Rarely works. This is why there’s only one Saddleback Church.
Or there’s only one Willow Creek Church. You
hear about Willow Creek ten thousand members, but how many of those are there? There’s only one.
They export their system to all kinds of churches but there’s
still only one of them, they’re a hybrid. In our fellowship,
in the churches of Christ, how many Memorial Roads do you know? That
you can name? How many 3000 member churches that you know of? Well there’s
that and there’s Highland and couple in Dallas and a few in Tennessee and so on and
so forth. There are not that many I mentioned before that the average
growth is about to, the average size about 200 people. Now the reason that just exporting
your system doesn’t work is that those growth churches, those
huge mega churches are unique to their time and place and cannot
be multiplied simply by copying their structure or implementing their
programs. It just doesn’t work. Now this is not to say that there are not valuable
resources that these churches can provide. There are. There is one book that is the result of an exhaustive research
project about church growth around the world that I think is very valuable. Like I say, not everything is bad. There are a lot of good ideas and one book
in particular has really terrific ideas. A writer called Christian Schwartz. He’s a researcher. And he is a church growth researcher.
He conducted the most extensive survey of churches
around the world. He surveyed a thousand different churches of
every type and every size in 32 countries with over
4 million responses to analyze. Now if you’re a researcher, if
you’ve done any type of research or surveying, you need to understand a thousand
different institutions from 32 countries, four million
respondents. I’m telling you, that is an exhaustive research program. Well what did he want to know?
Well he wanted to know what characteristics do growing
churches share. That was his question. OK. Now do any
of you remember a book that came out, still on the best seller list but
there was a book that came out by a man named Stephen Covey a couple of years back.
And he wrote a book called The Seven Habits of Highly Effective
People. You remember that book. Very popular book, as I say if you look at the list
is still on the best seller list down in number nine or ten. Stphen Covey poured over two hundred years of
success literature. How to succeed and so on and so forth, he
analyzed that kind of literature, 200 years worth. In the form of biographies
and systems and profiles of successful people from every walk of
life and what Stephen Covey did is he distilled all of this information
down to seven key character traits that all successful
people share regardless of time, regardless of culture. So whether you lived in England
in the 18th century or in California in the 19th century
or in Africa in the 20th century, no matter where you
lived or where you were, successful people shared certain characteristics
regardless of their culture, the time they lived, or the society that they lived in. His findings confirmed the important
idea that success is not about how much you acquire or how much
you succeed but rather what kind of person you are. That’s what
he found out. In other words character over quantity.
Principles over production. Well in the very same way
Christian Schwartz has done a similar thing with the subject of
church growth. His research has revealed that growing
churches, all growing churches, regardless of country or position on
the doctrinal issues that they have, all of them share 8 specific
quality characteristics and they possess these at a
level far above non-growing churches. Now remember when I say a thousand
churches, I’m not talking about a thousand churches of Christ. I’m talking about
Catholic churches, Methodist churches, Presbyterian churches, Baptists, Southern
Baptist, Missionary Baptist, Churches of Christ, Christian church, disciples,
he went through all the different churches. And so the
results were very specific about two points. One, not only did
growing churches possess these 8 quality characteristics, and it
didn’t matter which group it was whether it was a growing Catholic Church or a
growing church of Christ, it didn’t matter, they all possessed the very
same characteristics. and they had these characteristics or exercised them at a rate or level that
was far above those churches who merely had some or all of the
characteristics but their level or practice of achievement of
these were low, in other words, some churches had all of these
characteristics but the plates were
spinning very very slowly. Understand
what I’m saying? Alright, so I’d like to briefly share
these with you today. Now before I give you these, I want to
explain the difference between models for church growth
and principles for church growth. Not the same thing. Number one, a model is an existing congregation
that for whatever reason has experienced success and
church growth, a model. The systems that are used in the
model are then copied in other places in order to apply
them to churches hoping to make them grow. In other words, Saddleback
will export its system to another church so that they can copy
their system, that’s a model. OK. Now we’ve done that too. Madison,
remember the Madison church of Christ in the 1960s was the largest congregation
of the Churches of Christ. It far surpassed some of the big ones today. It had nearly 6000 people in Madison Tennessee and it had systems, they were exporting their system to other churches who couldn’t
quite replicate the 6000 people model. OK? The second idea is a principle. A principle is
something that applies to every church at all times. It’s
generic. It’s biblical. It’s universal in its application.
So what we’re talking about here is not a model. It’s a principle. Church models are usually seen in a
few very successful and innovative churches that have like a high profile
and what they do is they export their model for others to copy. Church principles are seen in many, many churches of all
sizes and shapes and they promote a more natural approach to church
growth. So what’s my point? My point is the following.
Instead of copying a successful model, we should implement
principles and characteristics that all growing churches have and all growing churches share in the natural growth
that they experience. We’re about principles, we’re not
about models. Alright. One last explanation before I share the
list with you. The researchers also discovered that growing churches
not only shared 8 similar characteristics and experience
them to a certain high level, they also learned that each
characteristic had a particular quality. For example a person is not just a skater; she’s a figure skater or a speed skater, see a quality to the
skill or a man is not just intelligent, he’s intelligent in
math or he’s a genius in physics, alright? A quality to
the characteristics and you’ll see what I mean when I go through
these. So each characteristic that they found had a specific quality to it
that contributed directly to the growth of that church. So
here are the eight quality characteristics shared by all growing churches, based in research now. Number one. All growing churches had empowering leadership. You see the breakdown? Not just
leadership, all churches have leadership in one way or another,
but growing churches had empowering leadership. In
other words, leaders of growing churches concentrate on
empowering other Christians for ministry. So let me
give you an example. Empowering leaders don’t just enlist
members to help them achieve their personal ministry goal or visions. They assist
members in developing their own giftedness and they mentor them in
reaching their own spiritual goals. So let me give you an example
of this type of thing. Leaders visit members, but empowering
leaders bring a member with them to visit other members
and train them in personal work. See the difference? See the difference? Leaders teach and evangelize, but empowering
leaders are always on the lookout to find and to disciple
members who have these gifts and provide opportunities for them to use
these gifts. See the difference? Not just leadership, empowering leadership.
Empowering leaders invest most of their time in
discipleship, delegation, and multiplication. Our research
shows that empowering leaders are not the superstars of mega churches. One of the problems with having a
superstar, the superstar preacher or the superstar youth minister or the superstar
whatever, is that when the superstar leaves, what happens? Everything that the superstar did
goes down the drain. That’s what happens with a superstar, but if you have an empowering
leadership, even if that leader leaves, he or she because
women in the church serve as well and in many instances they
also have leadership in a ministry area, these people have
empowered others to continue the work and
the ministry after they leave. So after they leave
someone else steps in. So research shows as I say
that empowering leaders are not the superstars of mega churches but
rather people who know how to cultivate spiritual qualities in other people. It’s OK if you don’t get around
to seeing 70 people. If you manage to mentor two or three
That’s pretty good. That’s good. You know I always say Jesus only
had 12 apostles, just 12. He was the Son of God and He had just 12 apostles
and one of them didn’t work out real well. So I’m not going to beat myself up if I
can’t manage personal deep mentoring relationships
with 29 or 54 people. If the Lord could only manage
12, who am I to try to do 50? Now a couple of other interesting findings based on the
research in the area of leadership are the following: Formal theological training had a
negative effect on church growth. Isn’t that weird? In other words the more
theological training of the leaders the less growth. Now when I say theological training, I’m
not talking about Bible training,. I’m talking about theological training. The
discussion of the various philosophies of religion and what it means. And
some people say, “well why is that?” Probably because most institutions
of higher learning that offer post-graduate and graduate degrees in
theology and so on and so forth are extremely liberal. Like if you go to Harvard, you get a
Ph.D. in theology, you probably come out not believing in God any more. Certainly not believing that
the Bible is His word. And so people at that level
of education, not all, but many of them, and I’ve met many of
them, promote the idea of pluralism. Everybody’s going to heaven. Let’s make
friends with everybody. The Bible however is very clear about that. The
Bible and Christianity is an exclusive religion. It’s very exclusive. It’s one of the
reasons why people hate Christians because they dare to say only Jesus is the
one who can save us. I mentioned before Acts Chapter 4 verse 12, “There
is no other name under heaven by which you may be saved.” People don’t like that. And so as you get away from that
idea you make friends, but you don’t make converts and you don’t grow the church of the Lord by denying the fact that He
is the Son of God and His word is not the Word of God. In other words, leaders who recognize that they needed, well one other thing I forgot
to mention, research also showed that there was a
positive relationship between the willingness of leaders to
accept help from outside the congregation and the positive growth of the church. So those
were two additional findings in the area of leadership. The more theological training,
the less growth. And the second one is that leaders who sought help from outside
the congregation, outside their circle, usually were ones who were leading
growing churches. So leaders who recognized that they needed help to do their
jobs usually succeeded better in building growing churches than those who
thought they knew it all. Proving that humility is a key ingredient
for successful empowering leadership. Alright, quality
characteristic number two. Growing churches focused on gift oriented
ministry. You see the relationship? Not just people serving
in ministry, but people serving in their area of giftedness,
their area of strength. When people serve according to their
giftedness, they’re more likely to be serving in the power of the Lord and
not according to their own strength. For professional ministers, identifying and training members in the use of their gifts should be a
major part of their actual work. One of the jobs of a
minister is he’s a scout, like a baseball scout or a football
scout, he’s a scout, he’s looking for talent, he’s looking for people.
There’s a joke at Choctaw, there’s a kind of a running joke that goes…there’s a running joke that goes that even in our family and Hal knows
this joke as well, “Don’t ever ask Michael if there’s something you
can do, because he will find you something to do. Don’t ever make that
mistake.” That’s in the church and in our family, because everybody’s tight
and doing filming, whatever, they’re all doing something. Right? So, for professional
ministers as I said identifying and training members
to use their gifts, this should be a major part of the work. Helping Christians
identify and use their gifts contributes to church growth more than
any other activity. More than any other
activity they found. Building each other up builds the church. Quality
characteristic number three. Growing churches experienced
passionate spirituality. Now by passionate spirituality I’m not talking
about speaking in tongues or the rock and roll worship services with lights flashing
and people jumping up and down, that’s not what I’m talking about.
I’m not talking about a concert. The research showed that growing churches
had members who cared deeply about spiritual things. That’s what I mean about passionate
spirituality. They cared about Christ and they cared about their lives as
Christians. It was important to them. Their passion was in pleasing and
serving the Lord. That kind of passion. Now churches whose focus was only
getting the forms right, and so what I mean by the forms in other words
churches that were only focused on the correct way of doing things. One Cup 16 cups you know two
prayers and then a song. The externals, the forms. These
churches were not growing and they had little enthusiasm. And I dare say that’s one of the main problems in the
churches of Christ, we’ve focused so long on the externals, we forgot about the guts of
the thing. That’s why my very first lesson and my very first bible study with you
about church growth was not in the book of Acts, it was in Ephesians because if we can be the church that Paul
describes in Ephesians, we will be a loving church. We will have the New Testament pattern right there. So churches where the focus
was on getting their lives right and getting their lives
in sync with Christ found that their enthusiasm for all things
including the forms promoted growth. I’m not saying let’s do away with
orderly worship service, I’m not saying that at
all, but when the goal is simply order and we’re in and
we’re out in an hour and let’s not make any noise, if
that’s the goal then we’ve missed the boat. There is no passion in that.
It’s all externals, but if the goal is I want to be, I not
only want to do what’s right and be orderly and biblical in how I praise and
worship God, but I want to be right with God. I want to deal with
the sin in my life. I want to be crazy about getting rid
of the sin. I want to be ruthless. There’s the word. I want to be ruthless in
getting rid of the sin in my life. I want to be ruthless with it. I want to be
sexually pure and I want to be ruthless about that and I want to be kind and
I want to be ruthless about that. Tamping down my ego and screwing down
my pride. When people become ruthless about being Christians and how they treat each other,
that’s when the passion starts to come out. Quality characteristic number four. All growing churches had
functional structures. Boy when I read that,
that was one of the most happy moments in my ministry career
when I read about the guy who is an expert in church research who had done
a thing that I myself could never do and in his research he simply confirmed the thing
that I had been teaching all along simply from looking at the scriptures for 10
years. Man, I said, “Hallelujah!” Every church has some kind of structure and
organization but not all structures promote growth. That’s what he said. Functional
structures are those that promote church life and effective ministry and clear
communication. Now what’s interesting about this research is that it is,
as I say, confirms statistically what I’ve been teaching about church organization and structure for many many years in this unlimited growth seminar.
For example, that the most effective
structure for the church is the one that is outlined for the church
organization in Acts chapter 2. It’s so nice to get what you
simply read from the book confirmed statistically
and scientifically. We also learn, as we mentioned, we’re going
over this again, there are five areas of ministry: evangelism, education, fellowship,
worship, service and when these are functioning properly and simultaneously what
happens? The church grows. So the research demonstrated that the closer to this organizational model
the church was, the greater the growth. The
further away you went from it, the growth stopped. Do I have anecdotal personal
experience? Absolutely. In California when I
went there they were 300, when I left there they were 500. It wasn’t me, it was just hey let’s… same
thing as we did here…Here’s the ministry models, start filling in the things, let’s
start working, that’s all. I just manage the system, taught them how to do it. Boom! It took
off. Where do they come from? I don’t know. I don’t know. We baptized I
don’t know 20, 30, 40 people a year, but people can’t, some people
they pooh pooh this idea of people placing… oh, that’s not growth. Really? That’s
not growth? Who do you think sent those people here? If God is in charge of
everything and if we ask God to give us guidance in the kingdom of God,
Brother and Sister Smith have moved from Okemah to the Ponca City with their four kids,
all of them Christians, all of them ready to serve in the Lord. If that’s
not a blessing, I don’t know what is. That’s church growth. Somebody who stopped coming to church for three years and away from the Lord, finally his conscience, her conscience, is
convicted and returns and says I want to be restored to the ministry of the Lord, I want to be
restored to the church, I want to start serving again, that’s growth. Spirit of God brought
that person to us. So growth is they’re baptized,
they joined, they’re restored. Hey, it’s all growth. Our job is not to decide what is growth
and what isn’t growth. Our job is to minister. That’s our job. Don’t worry about
the growth. I’ll tell you something else. It never comes from where
you think it’ll come. It never, never does. I’ll tell you a
story. So in Montreal we’re having a gospel meeting and we’re having a college group, no
a church group from MacArthur Park Church of Christ in San Antonio. And there were a whole bunch of people, there were like 30 or 40 of them,
they came in the big bus, you know the drill, the summer
missions, college, teens, whatever. And with my wife and I, it was a small mission where
we worked like dogs. I’m telling you, printing stuff, delivering stuff, organizing these people,
putting them up in houses, whatever.
And they came and they knocked doors and they handed out 10,000
pamphlets and we invited a speaker, the whole drill. Gospel meeting. And my wife said, “You know,
I’ve worked so hard on this, this gospel meeting with you, I don’t want to just stay home,” we had four
kids, “I’m going to be home with the kids.” And I said, “Look, I’ll tell you what, let’s invite that
little girl down the street. Let’s invite her. Teenager. She could watch the kids and you can come to the meeting.” …”Oh great.”
So we hired the girl, paid her whatever, and she every night she’d come to the meeting and of course you know how it is, we’re in the church right? After the Gospel meeting people would come back to our house and we’d
talk about it, blah blah blah anyway. Long story short. We didn’t get a lot of visitors.
We got a couple, but we didn’t get a whole lot of visitors. It was fun. It was great for us. We love being together, fellowship. We heard some great lessons, we were pumped
and we’re excited at night, but the entire Gospel meeting yielded
only one baptism. And do you know who that baptism was? The little
girl who watched our kids. She watched us come home every night excited and talking. “Oh it was great. Did you hear what he said?” “Yeah.” I forget what her name was, so many years ago, but she listened and she listened and then she started asking,
anyways. She was baptized. She never went to the meetings, she didn’t read the
literature, she didn’t hear the sermons. She just kind of was going off of us and she was like, “Man, I want what they’ve
got. What is it that you people have? I want some of that.” So I say that story to remind you,
it never comes from where you think it’s going to come with
the Lord. It’s always “Look, you just minister and I’ll add and you know what? I’m not going to
ask your permission on how I’m going to add. I’ll add the way and the time that I want to
add. You just be convinced that I will add when the time is right, you just keep on
ministering. Don’t you worry about that. OK?” Quality number five. Growing churches had inspiring worship
service. Now here we need to make a distinction between style of
worship and inspiring worship. There are a lot of styles of worship services, there’s
high church with a lot of ceremony, Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, that’s high church.
You have high impact worship with music and
performance and lights and cameras and stuff. Church.TV or Life Church, lots of stuff going on, you got the band in the back, you’ve
got the guest singer, you got the charismatic evangelist, the lights
and everything going on. You have seeker services geared to
introduce worship to nonbelievers. You have acapella style which is the
practice in New Testament churches. Now what the research showed
was that the style did not impact growth one way or another. For all of those people in our
congregations that are moaning about the fact that the reason we’re not growing is because we’re acappella churches,
we need to get instruments, we need to start swinging here and rock
and rolling, for all the people that make those arguments, the research shows
changing your style of worship is not going to impact your growth. Inspiring worship is that
worship where the Holy Spirit of God is truly at work in the
worshipers and they are inspired by His presence among them. You cannot manipulate the Spirit of God
with your style of worship. You know what that is? That’s magic. That’s the basic definition of the occult. Magic is trying to influence
something in the spirit world by doing something in the physical world.
So you got the lucky charm that you carry and what does that mean? Well you have the lucky
charm, the lucky charm means that if you hold it or carry it or whatever the spirits
will give you “good luck,” will favor you. What is that? Something in the
physical world that’s trying to manipulate something that’s in the spiritual world. In the same
way, if we think that jumping around and lights and screaming and professional singers
with six octave voices and so on and so forth that that is going to manipulate
the Spirit of God to like us better. No. You not only have the action wrong, you’ve got the theology wrong. The only factor that
style in worship plays is if the worshippers are offering their
worship in an acceptable Biblical manner and with an acceptable
believing heart. If you don’t believe that, just go back to the Old Testament
and take a look at the relationship between God and His worshippers. Worship is about what God wants, not what we
want and certainly you’ve heard sermons on that before, I’m not
going to repeat them here. The inspiration for worship however
does not come from externals like the type of building or the talent of
the worship leaders but rather is a dynamic played out between the worshipper and God throughout the week and shared with others on the Lord’s day.
If that was not the case that means that the
American Pentecostals, OK, only their worship is acceptable
because it’s so exciting and so impacting and so high energy and
the guy who is living in South America in a small village meeting with
six of his brothers and sisters in a hut somewhere or in a place where
I have actually been in Haiti, OK, let’s do Haiti, out in the country in
Haiti and again a stick church with 19 people who only know
two songs, those people’s worship is unacceptable. Why? Because they haven’t got an
electric organ. They got no lights. Nobody’s shouting, nobody’s jumping up and down, nobody’s going nuts and
rolling on the floor so therefore their worship must not be any good. Is that the God we worship?
Really? Really? If we only could hear the
music of the first century. It’s chanting. It’s like
three notes. It’s reciprocal. Sing to each other. It’s Jewish. Nothing like what we have today. So
if we think that modern showtime worship style, if that’s what pleases God, then
all of us are going to hell together, I mean tell you, I can play the
accordion, but that’s about it. The spin off benefit of
this inspired worship, this worship between me and God is the overall growth of members who
worship because of inspiration and not
duty. I love to worship
God. I love to do it. I love to do it. You know the Muslims,
they pray five times a day because you have to pray five times a day with the prayer mat
facing east and all that kind of stuff facing Mecca. Man, I got them whooped. I pray way more times than five times a day. Way more. Not out of duty. Not out of duty. Out of compassion. Out of compulsion. When I open my eyes and I switch out
of bed and my feet hit the floor I begin to pray. I begin to pray at that moment, then I
pray at breakfast and I pray at work, then I have my personal bible reading
time where I pray some more, then I pray for all my meals, then I pray with my
wife and as my head hits the pillow at night, the last thing that’s going on in my
mind is what? It’s prayer. I’m praying. Why? Because somebody, some moolah somewhere
told me I got to do it five times a day? No. I love God. Period. I love Him and when I remember what He’s done for me,
where I was at in my life when He found me, I mean, you don’t need to hear my story.
It’s ugly, it’s bad, it’s terrible. When I realized that while I was
making jokes about Him, I personally was making jokes about Him,
blasphemous jokes about Him with my buddies while we were doing drugs and
alcohol or whatever else we were into. While I was making those jokes, He was preparing to save me. How can you not love that
person? How can prayer be a duty? So take 400 people like me and
put them all together in one place. You know how much power
that can produce? You know how spiritual energy that can
create? But it can only be created one person at
a time. You can’t be whipped into love. You
can’t be forced into it. You have to love them. You
have to want to worship Him. Alright. Number six. Growing
churches have holistic small groups. The researchers found that this characteristic
truly separated growing from declining churches. Now a lot of churches, they have small groups
or they have a “program” or another and they don’t experience any significant growth and
that’s because the small groups are just one among many programs the
ministry staff operates. Well we got the youth group, we got the Gospel meeting,
we got this, we got that, we got the Sunday night potluck and then we got
the small groups over here. That’s usually the way we do it, just a
program, but holistic small groups they’re different. These small groups are
designed to help members use their gifts and share their lives and minister
to each other and pray and support each other, not just eat together. Fellowship is not about food. It’s about sharing Christ. You know what? You
know how close you’re coming to having an effective small group? Don said, “Hey anybody
after Sunday night church, anybody wants to come here and eat some food and sit down
and tackle these five areas of ministry and get some brainstorming?” That’s a small group. That’s a
small group with a purpose. That’s a small group that’s sharing something that’s real
and all those people that will come to that, you know what? They’ll be here
because they want to. They want to be here. Now others may just
have other commitments, other things. We get that, we’re not… Just because I do something doesn’t have to make somebody else feel guilty about it. I’m just saying the people that come to that, they’re a legitimate small group, why? Because they have a common interest. They want to get things
done. They want to try stuff. Great. And that’s what he’s saying. Small groups are designed to help members use their gifts,
share their lives, minister to each other, pray and support each other. Schwartz
says, “…There’s an enormous difference between church leaders discussing evangelism,
and loving relationships, or gift oriented ministry in its staff meetings, and
having Christians integrated into a small group and go
through a process in which he or she actually experiences the meaning of
these things in real terms within the confines of the group.” So if the small group is just meeting to eat, that’s one
thing, but if the small group is meeting together in this instance to think about how can we evangelize? Who’s got a good idea? And somebody comes up with an idea and oh everybody gets excited, everybody is
on board. Well listen I’ll do this, I’ll do that, whatever. You should have seen our meeting when we
talked about the health fair. Are you kidding me? People were so excited that a helicopter…we’re going to have a helicopter in the parking lot! And then we told the elders and they
said, “You’re going to have a what where? But they were for it, they were for it. So holistic small groups are not just a
program, they’re a way that the church can train people in ministry and develop leaders
to plant new churches. As I said small groups are nothing new. The research
simply points out that when these are used to mentor and minister to the saints, the
overall church grows. You have that meeting Sunday night and you watch the growth that comes
from that and because of that particular meeting. Characteristic number seven, we need
to finish here. Growing churches practice need oriented evangelism. Research in this area revealed a lot of
interesting facts. Oh some of you, please don’t be angry.
Now I’m going to say Not everybody has a gift or talent in
the area of evangelism. Our mistake? We’re trying to get 100 percent
of the church to serve and evangelism. But only really about 10 percent of the church
actually has a gift for evangelism. It’s like, let me put it this way… It’s like
saying, “OK 100 percent of the men in the congregation are all
going to lead singing.” Would we do a thing like that? Well, we recognize well some men have, I mean
some women have great voices but because of our male spiritual leadership concept
of the Bible, the men are the ones that lead the public worship. So OK, but 100
percent of the men leading worship. Oh man. That might not be a very
good idea right? How about 100 percent of the men get to preach? Maybe not. 100 percent of the men pray? Maybe not. 100 percent
of the women teach the teenage girls. 100 percent of
the women teach the teenage girls. Really? So why do we think 100 percent of the
church ought to be serving in evangelism? Not everybody has the gift. I mean we’re all responsible to share
our faith, but not everybody has the gift of evangelism. And so what they discovered is that only 10 percent of each church
were natural soul winners. It doesn’t mean if you’re not a natural soul winner, we’re talking about the DVD. Just give it to somebody else. That’s your…but somebody
else who has a gift for it could say, “You know what? Why don’t you come on over to my house on
Thursday night and I got this great little video here it’s called ‘Christianity for Beginners’, I bet you that some interesting stuff that we can talk about together. So come on over make some
coffee, blah blah blah.” Is everybody like that? I’ll tell you something
OK? I’m not like that. I don’t like too many strangers in my house. You
know what I’m saying? It’s a terrible thing to say mind you. Raised as an only child. It’s cultural. It’s ingrained I’m
hardwired. I’d much prefer just being left alone. It doesn’t come naturally to me to say
to people, “Everybody come on over.” I don’t want you over at my house. I want
peace and quiet when I’m at my house. So I’m not the guy that’s leading the
charge to have barbecues. No no no. But we got people like that at church. Sunday night.
Bobby’s like that. We have boxing night at his house and we come on
over. Let’s go. Let’s do it. Not everybody has the same
gifts. Statistics show however that each member had about 8.5 contacts
each. I don’t know how that half of a contact turned out, but I guess it’s
a math problem. So each member, not each one who’s gifted in evangelism,
each member in the church has about, statistics show, about eight and a half
contacts apiece. In other words people who are not believers, not members of the
church. And they found that these were two factors that
promoted growth in the church due to evangelism as opposed to growth by
placing membership. First of all the leaders knew who were gifted
in the area of evangelism and they made sure that these
people were active in this area. Reember the whole idea? The leaders know
who have the gifts, so they know who has the gift of evangelism. They provide
them with resources to do their work. And then growing churches focused in evangelism, not making new
friends or developing contacts with strangers, but
rather concentrating on the 8.5 contacts that each person already had. In other
words, never mind doorknocking to people you don’t know. Never mind coming up to
strangers on the street, you already have 8.5 natural
contacts that you know, growing churches focused on that because a person who knows you will be
more prepared to listen to you than a stranger. So need oriented evangelism encourages each Christian to use their gifts and resources to serve non-Christians with whom they have a relationship and see to it that they hear the Gospel and
have a connection to the local church. That’s why we have a Sunday evening thing where we
invite people. Hey, you don’t need to come to the services, just come be with us. Get a
little taste of what Christian fellowship is like and who we are and feel
comfortable. Right? We’ve all got a couple of people we
can invite to church. You use what you have to first serve
and share the gospel with folks that you already know. To me that’s a great comfort
because so many people feel guilty because they’re not out doorknocking. I mean if you got to heaven because
you are a door knocker, man I wouldn’t be going, but you know what? I found a way to do it. This is
my way, the Internet. I found my way to do it. I’m still getting the message across and we get feedback. People write to us and we get
letters and e-mails back from people who use our material. Thank you. God bless you. I’m sharing it
with my husband or with my neighbor, whatever. That’s great. That’s terrific. That’s what I can do. I’m not going to feel guilty about the stuff I can’t
do. I’m only going to feel guilty about the stuff that I can do but I don’t do.
See the difference? Because I know that this church belongs to God
and if He wants to raise up a door knocker, He’ll do it because
it is not going to be me. If He wants to raise up a good teacher
for the third grade kids, He will raise up that person, that
person will be found. Alright last thing. All
growing churches had an abundance of loving relationships. Growing
churches, they have a high love quotient. Declining churches
have a low love quotient. Does this seem strange to us that the God of love would be worshiped by a church of love? Would it be biblical if we called our
church the Ponca City church of love? Would that be true? Might be weird. The research showed over and over again that
a loving church is more powerful than an evangelistic church or a busy
church or a church that “holds the truth.” When I go home, I go by a certain
street and there’s a sign there. OK? And on that sign it says “the disciples of
truth” with an arrow up the street. Imagine saying that we’re
the disciples of truth. We’re the only ones that have this this truth.
Now don’t get me wrong the church needs to evangelize, it needs to minister, it needs to
speak the truth, but Paul the Apostle says, “the goal of our
instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a
sincere faith.” You hear that? The goal, what we’re shooting for in what we
teach people, is that people have love from a pure heart
and a good conscience. So if a church claims to be evangelistic or busy and the pillar of the truth, but is deficient in love then there is
something missing. There are some teaching or attitude that is incorrect, because
where the Spirit of Christ is, there is love. People come to Christ and His church because of the
gospel and because of ministry and teaching but I’ll tell you
brothers and sisters people stay in the body because of love. So when I was 30 years old I had
been on the road for two years. When I mean on the road, I mean wandering
around, traveling around by bus, by train across Canada, down to the United States looking at
different religious things, not working and working odd jobs. And I told you my story, I went to
this church that said sinners are welcome at the
Church of Christ and that that was interesting. I read the article.
Jesus loves sinners, so on and so forth and I went. I checked it out. Oh you should’ve seen me. I
don’t know if you would’ve really liked me if I came into your church then, 35, 36 years ago because I walked in, I had jeans, a jean jacket,
a black shirt, sunglasses, cigarettes in my pocket and I sat in the back. I hated
the music. I hated the music. I mean really. Not the words, the music, because I like
jazz. I still do. You know Brubeck and Davis and all these guys, that’s who I like,
you know. So I go in and I hear the music. What a friend we have in Jesus. Country and western music. No no. I am not making fun of
the words mind you, but the music is just, it’s country and western, that’s what it
is and the way it was being sung, I despised it, but here’s the thing. So I walk
in, not too sure of what’s going on and this lady comes
up to me and her name is ******Hemsey Brown. Hemsey
Brown from Jamaica and she says you come over here and sit next to me
son and I’m sitting next to her and she took out the song book and showed me the
song and she said, “They’re not all like this. So we have other kinds of songs,” and
then when they had the communion she says, “Now the trays are going to come around and if you
want you know you can take the bread and and then it’ll come around again” and she sat
there with me and then she handed me a little bulletin so I can kind of follow
along and then it was all over and she gave me a hug and she said, “So When you come back?” “Maybe,” I said. “OK,” she
said, “I’ll be here.” And she was. My first contact In the church of Christ. A divorced nurse, mother of three, Jamaican
lady who had this nice singsong way of talking. No love, no growth, because when
people come to you, they’re not looking for
theology. They’re looking for love. That little girl who’s got two kids that her husband
dumped her and now she’s got to make ends meet and she’s tired all the time and then somebody
invites her to church and so on and so forth, do you think she cares for one
minute, for one single minute do you think she cares that we don’t use instruments in
our worship? You think she cares about that? You think she cares about
male spiritual leadership or that we were a New Testament…you think she
really cares about any of that? The only thing she cares about is “are
these people going to love me? Are they going to accept me? I’ve got a blown up marriage. I’ve got two kids, and you
know what? These two kids,
I’ve had them by different men and one is kind of black and the other one is
white. Are they going to love me? Can I find a spot here for me? And she’ll be able to tell by your faces.
She’ll be able to tell. She’ll know. There’ll be time to teach the Word, absolutely,
and there’ll be time to explain why we do the things the way we do them and there’ll be time to
answer the question, “You know. I noticed that it’s just men that go up there to pray and to do…
Why is that?” There’ll be time for that. But if there’s no love,
I guarantee you there will be no time to teach. So growing churches. Growing churches are
churches of love. So there they are the eight essential characteristics for growing
churches, principles that can be applied to any church, anywhere. I could preach this sermon
anywhere. They’re biblically based. They have been statistically proven
through the most extensive survey ever conducted on church growth. There
they are all eight of them: Empowering leadership. Gift oriented
ministry. Passionate spirituality. Functional structures. Inspiring
worship. Holistic small groups. Need oriented evangelism and Loving relationships.
Now most churches have some or all of these
characteristics to a greater degree. The point of the research was that growing
churches had all of these and they had them in abundance. So the invitation
for this lesson is not repent and be baptized,
not preaching the gospel. The invitation is “Do you want to be a
growing congregation?” And if you do, this, these are the principles
that you have to cultivate and this the pattern, is the
structure, that you need to be based on. You combine these two
things, there’ll be nothing stopping you, nothing at all. This will be a leadership church.
People will be coming here to watch what you do.

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