Church Growth Strategies: Building Biblically or User Friendly?
I tried. I really tried not to go here but you got to do what you got to do.
When I wrote my dissertation for Bible College, I was expanding upon the "Church Elements to Fulfill the Great Commission" chart in chapter 1, which was the foundation for my entire work. Due to the nature of the content and building a Biblical church, it goes without saying that it is very important that discussion be made of how so many are following the pattern of the "user friendly" seeker church which is so popular today.
My hand being forced, I tried to keep this section in my research to 4 pages or less. I just didn’t want to go there. I ended up with over 29 pages and I was just getting started! I just don’t have the time but the problem is the bigger the problem, the more effort is required to reveal it. What is the problem that requires such study?
Many churches today are more into raising church attendance and getting as many people in the pews as possible. Why? The more people, the more money! So building their church by comfort and convenience instead of building God’s kingdom through the church by commitment to the word of God, Jesus Christ Himself and serving Him, many have gone in the way of the modern church growth movement.
Most church growth today is run by money, programs, philosophies, TV, Radio, internet and all of the different things we have at our disposal today. The problem with these areas are most of it is very rarely based on the word of God. If these were merely ministry tools based on Gods word, perhaps it would be different, however, unfortunately, the end result is what I call the "user friendly" seeker church.
Although we’ll hear terms such as the emerging church, mega church, the purpose driven church, of course it sounds real Christian, but the end result is the church and a large part of the body are powerless in dealing with people’s lives just as the disciples of Jesus Christ were powerless in casting a devil out of a man’s son who was possessed with a devil in Matthew 17:14-21. While Peter, James and John were with Jesus at the mount of transfiguration, the other disciples were confronted with this issue. They were powerless because they were trying to deal with it themselves. The people brought the possessed boy to the disciples and they tried to deal with it themselves. They failed to help him because they lacked the consecration, intimacy and reality with God even though they were with him every day (Matt 17:19-21).
It’s the same reason the church has no power in people’s lives today because it is trying to deal with it itself. Churches are working feverishly without Jesus and wonder why there are problems.
The outside world sees a powerless church and want nothing to do with the bride of Christ. So in attempt to combat church decline, church growth ideas from modern pragmatists to populate the pews and tickle peoples ears. Church growth seminars are even given to pastors to teach them the latest tricks, techniques and marketing to get people in their attendance.
As the disciples lacked power in the life of this possessed boy because there was a lack of the living Word in dealing with the issue, "seeker friendly" pastors in the "user friendly" church lack a reality in the Word of God in dealing with people’s lives today. They tailor church growth sermons and the church service to suit unbelievers and attract them by appealing to their flesh. Special attention is placed on their "felt needs", "fears", and "hang-ups" so that they can be as comfortable as possible. They focus on appealing to the carnal nature or these "felt needs" of unbelievers rather than the true needs of God’s people, equipping them with the word of God so they can carry out mission of the Great Commission.
The seeker friendly church, also known as the emergent church, doesn’t have their focus on equipping the body to accomplish the mission of the Great Commission. Instead the seeker church stresses entertainment over preaching, appealing to the flesh and felt needs of it’s people instead of equipping them in the word of God.
Instead of focusing on spiritual growth through a Biblical pattern of church discipleship which leads to Biblical church growth, instead emphasis is placed on drama skits in the sermons, music for the world, having proper lighting, quality sound equipment and an attractive building. Again, not that using those things are wrong, but it is when that is the focus and God’s word is not the central issue.
Methods are often used to trigger a change in people’s thinking and to appeal to their emotions. The seeker church is involved with activities that appear as a circus inside the church. The church service becomes a dog and pony show in order to create a non-offensive environment. The catastrophic result of this activity is without the focus and emphasis on preaching the word of God, there is a lack of consecration, intimacy and reality with God. Even though they may attract large numbers, even thousands of people at every service, these types of churches lack power in impacting people’s lives today for the sake of carrying out God’s mission.
Let’s continue on to learn what the Bible says about Biblical church growth and what constitutes growing churches and healthy churches according to the word of God.