Growing Church Life Cycle

small town churchJust listened to a bit of an interview this morning with Elmer Towns.  He was talking about the life cycle of any church.

“Let’s talk about growth for a second.  If a church is healthy it will grow.  If it’s healthy and growing, it will produce fruit.  If a church is healthy, growing and producing fruit, that means it’s alive and eventually will die.”

There is a season for all churches.

I’ve often heard preachers say something like “They sent me there to either make something happen or close the doors”.  Often, those stories are inspiring.  The church has lost it’s mission and focus and for a host of reasons has shrunken in size, attendance, health and vision.  Then someone new comes to turn it around.

I’ve also heard it said starting a new church, as difficult as it may be, is easier that turning a dead church around.  It’s often easier to birth something new than to resurrect the dead.

There were books written a couple decades ago about the growing, cutting edge churches, and those churches are no longer growing or cutting edge.  Elmer Towns goes on to say in the interview, that “methods are many, principles are few; methods may change, but principles never do.”  The method to accomplishing the mission in our culture and context is always being adapted.  But the mission and message will never change.

But, the church is an alive, growing organism,  so life cycles apply.

The goal for any church is to be faithful to the mission. Every church at one point began with a passion to be authentic to the standards of a New Testament church.  They had a passion for evangelizing and reaching the lost.  They put lots of emphasis on seeking God, counting on prayer, trusting in faith that they would be focused on transforming lives.

As a church grows and matures, their focus, by default, moves to maintaining the church structure. They still believe, they still have faith, but they also now have more people, more structure, more issues.  They become bound to buildings, programs, learning, ministries, outreach, and structure.  None of those are bad in and of themselves, but without a singular focus, the church slowly begins to move from its original intent.

Have you ever thought about the fact that the church you are in – even if it’s 100 years old – was once a new church?  How did it begin?  What was the passion behind it?

Where is your church in the life cycle?


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