There was an article in the Christian Post last week by Perry Noble which caught my eye – ‘8 reasons why some churches do not grow’.
In summary, the 8 reasons listed are as follows:
Some churches do not grow because…..#1 – Their vision is not clear;#2 – Their focus is on trying to please everyone;#3 – Their leadership lacks passion;#4 – Too much energy, time and money is wasted on things that no-one cares about;#5 – There is a lack of prayer;#6 – There is an unwillingness to take risks;#7 – There is disobedience with regard to the clear demands of Scripture;#8 – There is a refusal to embrace the reality that the call to follow Jesus is a call to serve.
This is all well and good – and to a large degree I can understand Noble’s viewpoint.
However, I can’t help but feel it’s all a bit dry – all a bit, well, business like – emphasising moral outcomes rather than personal, radical discipleship!
Bible references are included to support each stated reason – which is great – but I thought it was telling that the name of Jesus wasn’t even mentioned until the last paragraph – and ‘discipleship’ wasn’t mentioned at all!
And where is the cross? What about repentance – and faith? How about whether people love Jesus in the first place – and recognise the forgiveness, mercy and grace that they have received as a result of His sinless life and death at Calvary!
It occurred to me that a church could do all eight things in Noble’s list and still not see any ‘growth’ – because they are motivated by religious duty rather than a heart melted by the love and grace of God – getting by with little or no reference to Jesus or the Holy Spirit at all!
I also have a problem with the implied definition of ‘growth’. It seems to me that ‘growth’ in this article is about growth in numbers – increasing bums on seats – but is this the only definition of growth that should be considered? What about growing in faith, in compassion, in holiness and ‘Christlikeness’? Admittedly, Noble does mention ‘disobedience with regard to Scriptural demands’ and ‘refusal to embrace servanthood as the primary call of the Christian life’, but both seem to me to be focussed on moral, outward observance of rules rather than a heart felt, irresistable response to the grace, mercy and forgiveness received ‘in Christ’.
Don’t get me wrong – in principle, I accept and recognise as valid all of the reasons given – but wonder if the emphasis of each should be slightly different.
How about these instead?
Some churches do not grow because….
#1 – Their vision is not Jesus centred, Spirit led and disciple focussed;
#2 – Their focus is on trying to please anyone other than Jesus;
#3 – Their leadership lack a passion to lead by example as disciples who make disciples – in humble response to the grace they have received and God’s call on their lives;
#4 – Too much energy, time and money is wasted on things that Jesus doesn’t care about;
#5 – There is a lack of desire and need for God’s presence which results in a lack of prayer;
#6 – There is an unwillingness to be guided by the Holy Spirit and step out in faith;
#7 – There is a lack of a personal experience of Jesus, leading to disobedience and disregard for the clear demands of Scripture. We are called to be disciples who make disciples – and live our lives as salt and light for the world – period!;
#8 – They neglect to incarnate the call to follow Jesus as disciples who serve, share and sacrifice in response to the Kingdom of God being a present reality.
I am sure that I am not saying anything that wasn’t in Perry Noble’s heart when he wrote his article – I hope not anyway 🙂
What do you think? Anything that you would add or take away?
Read more from Perry Noble at this blog here.