“Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow.” Matthew 6:28 The word Jesus used in the Greek language, which is translated as “consider” means to diligently learn, observe, study or research. Jesus said to pay attention to “how they grow.” All of God’s laws are creation laws. We learn from the natural and then apply the same principles to the spiritual. John 3:12 Learning from nature means learning from God’s creation. I Corinthians 15:46 The source of life is in the root.
In this study we will focus on the principles of Life-Giving Churches.
As spiritual leaders we should not be interested in turning our churches into religious machines but into spiritual growing bodies. Machines are wonderful tools which serve us, but machines can never reproduce themselves. They are not alive. Many pastors believe if they can only find the right church program, it will produce growth in their church, but programs are simply tools which serve us. They cannot produce life.
While it is true we cannot force plants to grow we can develop a healthy atmosphere where growth takes place naturally. We should not attempt to force our churches to grow, but instead remove every obstacle that hinders growth, so they grow naturally. Since we have little control on the atmosphere outside the church, we should focus our attention on the environment inside the church. Just as a wise farmer plants the right seed, in the right soil, at the right season to produce a good harvest, we should do the same things spiritually which will enable us to produce a spiritual harvest in our churches. Paul said, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.” I Corinthians 3:6 God will bless our efforts and cause our churches to grow if we do the right things.
“For the earth yields crops by itself.” Mark 4:26-29 The life of the plant is in the seed. Genesis 1:11, 12 The plant grows by itself, but we are laborers together with God. There are things we can do to create the right conditions for a good harvest. God gives the growth, but we must plant, cultivate and reap the harvest. Natural church growth means we are releasing the life principles by which God Himself grows His church. Whether we do this deliberately or by instinct is not important. Church growth takes place naturally if we do the right things.
An intensive study was made in Germany of 1,000 churches in 32 nations on 6 continents to determine what characteristics growing churches share in common no matter the country, race, culture or theological persuasion of the church. This seminar researches the results of that study.
MECHANICAL – This is the belief that by finding the right church PROGRAMS we will grow our churches. This is not true. We cannot grow the church without God. Life is not mechanical. Sometimes our efforts produce growth in spite of us, but because we are not growing as leaders and do not understand the principles of growth before long the church deceases back to its original size.
REVIVALIST – This is the belief that REVIVAL grows the church. This is not true. God will not grow the church without us. It is true that revival brings new people into the church but unless the leadership skills of the spiritual leader increases with the church growth, the church will soon return to the same size it was before the revival.
LIFE-GIVING – This is the belief that the church will grow NATURALLY when as leaders we fulfill our responsibilities as “God’s fellow workers.” I Corinthians 3:9 The church grows naturally when we obey God’s creation laws. God gives life to the church, but it is our responsibility as leaders to nurture it. We are in partnership with God and must understand the principles of life which produce church growth.
There were four different types of churches identified in this study.
This study contrasts the difference between these types of churches.