Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Church Growth By Ministers Or Lay Persons

When Christ gave the command to make disciples is was not a command given to a few present disciples but a mandate binding of all Christians to the task until he returned. 
There are 3 ways I could illustrate this;
Dr.Bob Orr
Lecturing in India on Church Growth
  1.  In a study done by the Institute of American Church Growth it was found growing churches had and involvement in ministry level of 60% plus and that 25% of that involvement was Class 2 in nature (Class 2 is outreach focused ministry). Plateaued churches involvement level averaged 43% and declining churches 27%. So the total amount of involvement and the way that involvement is deployed are both important.
  2.  The principle of the "Oikos" or the 8-15 people God has supernaturally and strategically placed in every believers sphere would lead us to believe it was God's intent from the beginning that the task of reaching the world would be accomplished by each of us reaching our world for Christ. (see additional articles of this blog on Oikos)
  3. The ministry of evangelism is better accomplished by lay-persons than Clergy. One illustration of this is something so simple as following up church visitors. When laypersons do the followup the retention rate of visitors who come back and stay doubles. 

In this article Dr. McGavran gives emphasis to that principle with concrete illustrations. Take the time in your church to measure the following;
  1. How many persons have invited someone to come with them to church or a church activity in the past 30 days
  2. In the formal prayer times of the church is prayer for the harvest a primary item of concern
  3. Of the persons who have a role or task what % are doing Class 2 work.
  4. What is the conversion Growth Ratio. This refers to how many Christians it takes to win 1 person to Christ each year. 1:15-1:20 is a healthy number.

Dr. McGavran

The Final Lectures 
Number 10
Dr. Donald McGavran

Is effective evangelism of non-Christians the work of ministers or laymen?  Does the minister determine whether his congregation finds and folds the lost in its vicinity?  Is his task to do the job himself or to train his laymen to do it?  These are most important questions for any seminar community.  Let me lay before you some striking illustrations.
Pastor Paul Yonggi Cho in 1958
Easily the most dramatic illustration of church growth in the world today comes from the Full Gospel Church on Yoido Island, Seoul, Korea.  Under the able leadership of Dr. Paul Yonggi Cho, its minister, it has grown from 2,000 in 1958 to 400,000 today.  Pastor Yonggi Cho was responsible for the first 2,000.  His tireless work, his Spirit-filled dynamism, and his unceasing prayer gathered together a congregation in the bombed and ruined city of Seoul from a couple of hundred to a couple of thousand in three years.  Then Pastor Cho had a nervous breakdown.  His physician assured him he would never preach again.  He was confined to his bed.  He called in a hundred of his most devout members, about half women and half men.  They filled the room where he lay on a cot.  He said to them, “The care of this congregation now rests on you. Each one of you must gather the 20 or so members of this church who live in your neighborhood for a meeting of prayer and Bible study every week and must see that they come to this tent for Sunday worship.”
The hundred members instantly protested that they were very ordinary people and would not begin to have the ability or the biblical knowledge to enable them to do this.  He replied, “God will give you the ability.  You can love the 20 people who form your congregation, your house church.  Furthermore, these people who are living in intimate contact with many non-Christians flooded into this bombed city can win them to Christian life; can demonstrate the new love, justice, and kind way of life which you now practice.”
God cured Yonggi Cho, and he was back in his pulpit within a month.  The 100 house churches prospered.  They soon became 200, then 400, then 600.  Yonggi Cho, with some help from the American Assemblies of God, built the largest church building in Korea.  Its main auditorium seated 6,000 worshippers.  A television screen placed on the enormous pulpit showed another thousand gathered in the great hall below the auditorium.  These thousand also saw and heard the preacher via closed-circuit television.  Thus every Sunday Yonggi Cho spoke to 7,000 people.  He soon found that he had to have four services—at 9:00, 10:30, 2:00 and 4:00.
When I spoke in his church to 9,000 people, I was greatly impressed with five large offices below the auditorium.  Each was filled with filing cabinets.  Every one of the 600 house churches or cells sent its leaders to meet every Thursday night with Yonggi Cho and his helpers for a couple of hours.  I asked Pastor Cho who these lay leaders were.  Were they doctors, lawyers, teachers, and other such people?  “Oh, no,” replied Pastor Cho, “Those people are far too busy.  The 600 who gather here are very ordinary Christians, but they love and care for their small house churches.  They know each one individually, and they lead them in prayer and Bible study.  I thought immediately of the tremendous growth of the New Testament church led not by rabbis, scribes, and doctors of the law, but by fishermen and tax gatherers.  The first answer to the question posed by the title of this lecture is that effective evangelization is carried on by a joint effort by pastor and people, in which the pastor provides a small percentage of the total work—a very important percentage—and the people provide a very large percentage of the total work required.  If any denomination or congregation today wishes to become effective in its proclamation of the gospel, it must inspire and organize a substantial number of its men and women to become ardent evangelists.
John Wesley and Class Meetings
What Lever Are You Using To Change The World?
Clergy or Laity
What happened in Korea between 1958 and 1985, 27 years, has happened again and again throughout history.  A most dramatic illustration is provided by John Wesley, the Anglican clergyman.  As he sought to revive the millions of nominal Christians in the England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales of his day, he came to the conclusion that it could be done only by organizing class meetings led by committed Christians.  He provided for them the guidelines according to which they were to reach out to the unsaved, win the unsaved, teach the unsaved, and lead them into committed prayerful Christian lives.
Dr. George Hunter of Asbury Theological Seminary is publishing a book titled “To Spread the Power” in the spring of 1986.  In it he tells in considerable detail of Wessley’s Methodists.  He emphasizes that Wesley operated according to the principles which the church growth movement is emphasizing today.  Wesley did not call these church growth principles, but that is what they were.  If he had not emphasized these methods, his movement would not have grown and grown until today there are more than 40 million Methodists scattered around the world.
The training of committed Christians to find and nurture the unsaved brothers and sisters, neighbors and friends, is something which every ordained pastor can do.  The fact that so few pastors do this is very largely responsible for the static condition of many denominations.  How to do this, of course, varies from congregation to congregation and from pastor to pastor.  This key to obey eternal God’s command can be seized by the ordained leaders of all congregations in all parts of the globe.  What a tremendous and effective army will be found, organized, trained, and set to work as leaders of the church grasp this truth and act upon it.
Illiterate Preachers and Baptist Mltiplication
Of considerable significance is the fact that, while at the time of the Revolutionary War, the large denominations in the United States were the Episcopalian, Presbyterian and Congregationalists.  By 1976 (200 years later), the large denominations were the Methodists and the Baptists.  The Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, and Lutherans had, of course, grown some but not as much as the Methodists and Baptists.
Why was this so?  There are, of course, many reasons.  But one, concerning which there can be little doubt, is that the slow-growing denominations rely for their growth very largely upon well trained ministers, whereas the Methodists, with their class meetings which soon became congregations, and the Baptists frequently used Spirit-filled men and women who had relatively little formal training.  As one reads the history of the rapid expansion of Baptist churches, he runs across instances of men of very little formal education.  These, filled with the Holy Spirit and reading the Bible through from cover to cover, many times became effective proclaimers of the Word to those frontier people, among which were many actually illiterate men and women.  Indeed, I read of more than one Baptist preacher who was illiterate when he married.  His wife taught him to read.
Be assured that I am not advocating no training for ministers.  Fuller Theological Seminary and the School of World Mission emphasize the need for abundant instruction and education of prospective ministers and missionaries.  It does need to be said, however, that there is a danger that highly educated men will not be heard by large segments of the population.  If effective evangelism is left solely to the highly educated, millions of the men and women living around us will not listen to what we have to say.  This is one reason why ordained ministers must enlist and train at least 10% of their members to become effective evangelists.  These members of their churches will speak to their neighbors and friends in ways that vary from neighborhood to neighborhood.  They will be heard exactly as were the unlearned apostles in the early church.
Evangelistic Home Bible Studies in Boston
A very good illustration of what we are talking about comes from the City of Boston.  There a Church of Christ minister, Kip McKean, in 1978, came to a small congregation of about 50 members.  By 1983, five years later, this had grown to a congregation of 1400 baptized believers.  As I corresponded with Pastor McKean about this amazing growth, he gave several reasons for the growth.  Among them was the fact that every week that congregation of 1400 members assembled in 150—repeat, 150- evangelistic home Bible studies.  These met in all parts of the great City of Boston.
Pastor McKean insists that to be counted as an evangelistic home Bible study, each must have as many non-Christians attend as Christians.  If just the saints of God gather to study the Bible, the meeting has very little evangelistic potency.  If, however, believers and non-believers, members and non-members meet, faith is generated and flows from believers to non-believers in a remarkable fashion.  To be sure, the Bible study course which all these groups employ has been carefully designed to meet the conditions of modern life in a great city and to present the Christian alternatives.  The pastor never visits these evangelistic home Bible studies.  There the faith is communicated by the Holy Spirit through ordinary Christian men and women.
Creating Core of Effective Evangelists in Your Congregation

This army of Lay Leaders is being trained and equipped
 to reach their world for Christ in Kenya
Gathered in this room to discuss this lecture are men and women who will this coming Sunday play leading parts in many congregations in and around the great City of Philadelphia.  All these congregations face a general population in which are multitudes of humanists, secularists, materialists, nominal Christians of many denominations from Roman Catholic to Pentecostal.  Most of the congregations which we, gathered in this room, will touch on the coming Sunday will be either little growing or non-growing; some will be declining.  The record of their growth over the past twenty years will abundantly prove this.  Could these congregations be turned around?  Could they all become like Pastor Yonggi Cho’s great congregation in Korea or like Pastor McKean’s congregation in Boston?
The answer to this question must be carefully framed.  If we were to select the right men and women in each congregation, train them, work with them, encourage them, pray with them, and help them, we would beyond doubt be able to turn many non-growing churches around.  We would without doubt be able to field a good many new congregations.  We would beyond question be able to start many vigorous Spirit-filled house churches.  On the other hand, in some congregations we in this room, no matter how much we tried, could not find the right men and women.  Possibly this would be due to the way we went about it.  Possibly this would be due to decades of belief that all such work is the work of the pastor.  He is paid to do it.  Why should we do it?
Nevertheless, my friends, I trust that many gathered in this room will seek to create one or more bands of laymen or laywomen who will be effective evangelists, who will start evangelistic home Bible studies, who will learn how to speak winningly, pleasingly, and effectively to their neighbors and friends.  All across America, congregation after congregation, Presbytery after Presbytery, union after uni9on are becoming wakened to the multitudes of the unreached and to eternal God’s command to disciple them.  The ways in which they obey this command will be multitudinous.  The effectiveness of each unit will beyond question vary enormously.  But that the total will be impressive is hard to doubt.

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