Sunday, April 29, 2007

Now What? Growth

Well, now, after three solid months of discussing the vision on a weekly basis, I've shared all I can at this point about who, what, when, where, why, and how we want to become actively involved in planting churches to reach the 100,000 people in Jackson County with no church family. The vision is a long-term goal that still lives in the future, and there's only a limited amount of information that anyone knows about the future.

I'd like to begin shifting gears a little bit in the blog, talking now about what we need to focus on as a church in the present in order to see the vision accomplished down the road.

One of the most crucial components of making the vision a reality is growth in our church. To invest in the establishment of another congregation, it is going to require a significant amount of sacrifice from us; however, we can afford to make that sacrifice if we grow larger than we currently are. Specifically, we are going to need to grow in the following areas:

  • Attendance
  • Salvations/Baptisms
  • Members
  • Small Groups
  • Leadership

I want to tell you that we are already making progress in many of these areas. For instance, our average weekly worship attendance in 2005 was 108; in 2006, it was 117 (+8.3%); and so far this year it is 134 (+14.5%). On March 25, we brought in 15 new members and baptized 4 people. The number of LIFE groups continues to increase; last year at this time, we had 5, and now we have 10, including 2 small groups for youth. We are also into our first phase of leadership multiplication, involving new elders and Church Council members.

All of this is very exciting! All of this is an answer to prayer! And all of it deserves gratitude and praise to God for his faithfulness to us!

However, we should not assume that we have arrived yet. There is still much more work to do because we are not yet large enough to be a church that can afford to invest people, leaders, and money into a new congregation.

We need especially to focus on reaching out to the unchurched people in our community. We need to connect with people who do not currently have an active relationship with Christ, and reconcile them to God. This is the preferable way to grow, instead of recruiting people from other churches--that does nothing to grow the Kingdom of God, it only shuffles sheep from one pen to another.

So I want to encourage you to keep inviting your unchurched friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers to join you for church. Let them know that they'll find their time to be well-spent and different than they expect. Let them know that this is a place where they can be accepted for who they are and can come and experience God.

When we have events open to everyone, like Soccer Camp coming up this summer, encourage the families and children in your neighborhood to come. Follow up with them and invite the family to church afterward.

Many people assume that it's the pastor's responsibility alone to bring in people, but studies show that 80% of people who attend church came as a result of an invitation from a friend or family member. Reflect on your own spiritual journey... Was it a pastor that brought you into the church? More than likely, it was someone you had a close personal relationship with. This is a job that falls to all of us; we all are called by God to make disciples (Matthew 28:18).

Are you doing your part? Are you inviting people to join you at Pathway on this spiritual journey? It takes all of us working together to grow our church, to prepare the way for God's vision for our church to become a reality, to reach the 100,000 people in Jackson County with no church family. Let's keep at it, knowing that we are serving and working for God and his glory!

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