Sunday, February 04, 2007

Organic Church Growth

Growing a new church is much like growing a crop. It takes time, work, and patience. In short, it is an organic process. Crops are not manufactured; they are grown. The church is more than an organization; it is an organism. In Natural Church Development, Christian Schwarz observes, “The organizational realm of church ministry can be ‘manufactured’—the organic level can’t.”

We have been working for about a year to start a new church in a growing part of our city. What do we have to show for it? We still don't have regular weekly worship and the monthly gatherings we hold are not as large as they were six months ago. We have had one successful outreach event that was led by about 30 folks from First Baptist, our sponsor church, and drew about as many uninvolved folks, but we have not been able to integrate these new folks into the groups that are meeting on a regular basis.

We do have three home Bible study fellowships meeting that involve about 25 people. They are not as strong was we would like, but we have seen things happening in the groups. People are studying the scriptures, they are praying for each other, they are growing spiritually, and they are making new friends.

I believe that these home Bible fellowships are an essential, organic part of growing a new church. These must be nurtured, encouraged, and strengthened if a new church is to develop in the area. Although Schwarz points out that many characteristics must interact for a church to be healthy, the multiplication of small groups is the foundation of church growth.

So progress in bringing folks together to start a new church is not as rapid as some of us would like, but growth is happening. Pray for this growth to be deep before it is wide.