Friday, November 16, 2007
The Secret Of Church Growth: MULTIPLY UNITS
During 1990 I had a wonderful privilege to be sent by a kind deacon to the USA for the wonder trip of a life-time. Since planting the Kiama church in 1984 as a young, keen 23 year old, I had had a very keen interest in Church Growth. By 1990 I had read everything that was available anywhere on the topic.
Now came the opportunity to fulfil my dearest dream: to discover the "secret" of church growth from men I had only read about. Over the three week period I met with and watched the ministries of Chuck Swindoll (who taught me the importance of preaching the Word and trusting the Lord), John Macarthur Jnr (who taught me grace), Bill Yaeger (who taught me the value of aggressive whole church evangelism) and Gene Getz (who taught me the value of the small group). One man, Bill Taylor, then Christian Education minister at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Dallas, distilled an incredible 3 weeks and 10 years of research into 2 words: Multiply Units!
"Your body grows each daily by multiplying units of itself. When parts of your body stop doing this, then that area stops growing" he said, patting his balding pate. "The same is true in the Body of Christ! For any area to grow, we must first of all multiply units. If we want more small group Bible studies, we must multiply the number of small group leaders. If we want a larger Sunday School we must multiply the number of effective teaching and recruitment units in Sunday School. If we want more men in discipling ministry, we must multiply disciplers."
This rare insight revolutionised my philosophy of ministry.
I had understood the significance of Ephesians 4:11-16 and the value of an equipping ministry.
11And He personally gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers,
12 for the training of the saints in the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ,
13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, [growing]into a mature man with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness.
14 Then we will no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit.
15 But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head—Christ.
16 From Him the whole body, fitted and knit together by every supporting ligament, promotes the growth of the body for building up itself in love by the proper working of each individual part.
However now an equipping ministry had "wheels under it."
I now understood how to make this possible:
Definitively focussing upon multiplying small group ministries!
The small groups of whatever sort it may be, whether small groups we call men's dinners, youth groups we call Brigades, children's ministries we call Kid's Clubs, or adult biblical education which we call Bible studies or Adult Sunday School, are the heart of churches where real Body Life is experienced.
One of the opportunities that the NSW Baptist Pastors Forum can provide is the opportunity to network pastoral resources.
Some tremendous resources for Small group ministry are freely available on the internet.
As an example, my own blog Grosey's Messages provides alongside preached messages, the Small Group Bible Study materials I use at the Tabernacle. Studies in 1st Peter, the Lamb of God, and Zechariah are available for you to reproduce, adapt and use in your own congregations.
Another great resource that has just come online is that of Geoff Pound the former Principal of Whitley College in Victoria. Geoff is a good man who has produced a wonderful resource for helping folks discover the Will of God.
Geoff has produced some great Bible studies at his free Bible studies website called Making Life Decisions: Journey in Discernment
Dr. Geoff Pound’s book, Making Life Decisions: Journey in Discernment, is a workbook, a tour guide or a travel journal for people wanting to make a forty-day journey in discernment.
Forty Individual Studies
The book, which draws on down-to-earth biblical principles, is written for Christians, for seekers and specifically for those at the vocational crossroads. The forty short chapters are not designed to be read in one sitting but they are intended as daily guides and reflections in a deliberate period of seeking and discovery.
Making Life Decisions also contains seven group studies for people who want to make this journey in discernment with another person or with a small group.
As a young person growing up in New Zealand I remember repeatedly asking my parents the question, “What am I supposed to do in life?” They took me to Careers Nights put on by the school but I agonized for years over this vocational question.
After I embarked on theological training and began to serve as a church pastor, the question continued to confront me and, while I was acquiring a sizeable bank of experience and a rich treasury of guidance principles, the elusive challenge of discernment has never been easy.
I would be rich if I had been given $50 for every time someone asked me the question (or a variation of it): “How can I discover God’s will for my life or in this situation?” As a pastor, this is the question I have been asked more than any other. Sharing the weight of this question and its consequences has been a significant part of the privilege of being a pastor.
When my vocational journey took a new twist in which I served as a consultant with Australian Baptist Churches, I came to see that the issue of corporate discernment is pivotal to local churches and denominations in discovering their unique personality and mission.
My path turned later in the direction of training and leadership, first as a lecturer and then as Principal of Whitley College, the Baptist College of Victoria, and I discovered that student interviews and course planning were vitally connected with matters of discernment.
In recent years I have relocated with my wife to the Arabian Peninsula and I am testing out new vocational directions. Daily we are being confronted with questions of discernment. This book, therefore, does not come as a last word on discernment because one never actually nails it as one might solve a Sudoku puzzle. The issues of discernment change from time to time and from person to person because they are about the dynamic way that God relates to each individual in their uniqueness.
Here are very useful Bible studies for small groups and for individuals intended to assist in the life of the local church.
May I recommend them to you. Making Life Decisions: Journey in Discernment
May I encourage each pastor to facilitate the growth of the body of Christ in our churches by the free interchange of small group ministry resources.
Please place your small group resources in the comments section here and they will be published as posts.
We can always adapt each other's materials for the blessing of our own congregations. Why reinvent the wheel?