While listening to a talk by Jeff Vanderstelt (Soma Communities) it became quite clear that the Church in Australia (mostly the mainline denominations) has redefined the ‘normal church’ to be something entirely comfortable.
A ‘normal church’ in Australia seems to be far from the picture we see in Scripture. Churches have come to think of church growth as abnormal. A church in decline, is considered the norm. The world is against us and so we must put up a strong defense and attempt to mitigate our losses. In the battle for souls we are taking evasive maneuvers. Aussie churches are not seeking to win the war, just survive the battle. We are the last line of defense and won’t attempt to take enemy ground, we baton down the hatches for the impending siege.
When a married couple can’t conceive, can’t have children, we consider there to be something wrong. We expect people to be able to have children. Being barren is unnatural, not normal. A couple who were without child might seek expert advise, in an attempt to understand the reason behind their apparent infertility. But when it comes to churches, we don’t tend to think this way. If a church does not have spiritual children we might want to consider that church unhealthy. We would need to consider the causes of the unhealthy state. We would need to repent of sinful ways. We would need to evaluate things like diet (teaching) and exercise (evangelism). Where there is a poor diet and little exercise we expect to see either an emaciated church, or a obese church. For health, the church needs to be fed well and live well. The church goes far beyond the Sunday. Yet more that 6/7 of the churches life is spent outside of the corporate worship.
The church is almost like a bloke who needs to see a doctor but is stubborn and won’t get help, thinking that they are healthy, and they are just getting old. We need to start acknowledging a sinful attitude, by us not seeking help sooner.
Churches aught to grow. We are the people of God, with a message that has power, and God works in us by his Spirit with the power that he exerted in Christ when he raised him up from the grave.
When we look at our church, do we see people coming to know Jesus, are we reaching the lost with the gospel? Is our church moving towards planting a new church soon?
Would you ‘do’ church and ministry differently if the aim was to plant a new church, to reach the lost? If so are you simply doing maintenance ministry, stopping the ship from sinking, bailing water as best as you can. Perhaps you should plug the hole, and start preparing a crew to pilot a new ship.
Church Growth is Normal!