Monday, October 31, 2005


CTK is approaching church growth as aggressively as the modern church, but in a post-modern manner. This statement from Kennon Calahan gave me some clarity about the difference:

(Here's) what I call the "big bucks" church growth approach to starting new congregations. That approach has four steps: land, minister, members, building.

1. Land: buy land, hopefully an excellent location for a reasonable price
2. Minister: find a full-time, ordained minister who knows how to start a new church, and with help from the denomination, support his or her salary for the coming five years.
3. Members: recruit members to this new congregation
4. Building: build the building, or at least build the first unit of what might be a three- or four-phase building program.

The underlying assumption is that once we achieve the land, the minister, the members, and the building, then we can figure out more fully what we need to do as our mission. Unfortunately, with this approach the mission sometimes becomes getting the land, finding the minister, recruiting the new members, and building the new building.

On the one hand, I want to confirm that this way of beginning new congregations “works.” Land is bought. A competent pastor is found. We recruit new members. We build stage one, stage two, and stage three of our master plan for our buildings. We sponsor many programs and activities for our members. On the other hand, I want to confirm that these four steps seem preoccupied with “us.”

That last statement is one of the reasons I am no longer in a denominational church ministry. I got weary of church growth being about us. It’s not about us.

There is a subtle, but important difference in my mind between having the arrows pointed in and “asking them to come to us,” and having the arrows pointed out and “asking us to go to them.” As Reggie McNeal says, “The shift from “doing” church at the clubhouse to “being” church in the world is a paradigm shift that has apparently eluded many church leaders.” It’s time for God’s people to get out of the barn, and get into the field. It’s time to love the pitcher less, and love the water more.

“I hear addicts talk about the shakes and panic attacks and the highs and lows of resisting their habit, and to some degree I understand them because I have had habits of my own, but no drug is so powerful as the drug of self. No rut in the mind is so deep as the one that says I am the world, the world belongs to me, all people are characters in my play. There is no addiction so powerful as self-addiction.” - Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz

”The goal of a congregation’s leadership development process is to create a core of leaders who are capable of strategizing, launching, and conducting a mission for expanding the kingdom of God. Contrast this to holding a leadership role in an organization that primarily makes demands of the leaders’ time, money, talents, energy and prayer for it’s own survival.” - Reggie McNeal, The Present Future

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