Sunday, October 15, 2006

Gimmicks and church growth

I recently received an email asking if I’d like to see my church double in 100 days. Who wouldn’t? The email was, of course, an ad for the latest gimmick that will bring church growth.

I’ve noticed that church growth is a lot like investing in the stock market. There are some who try every trick and short-cut in order to make a lot of money fast. If it’s not China, it is India, gold, Russia, or the Iraqi Dinar. They are gambling. A few will get lucky and strike it rich. The majority who lose money are rarely mentioned.

Some investors conservatively invest in mutual funds and ignore the hype. They use the tried and true methods of investing a little bit each month and end up with a respectable return.

I’ve noticed that some pastors and denominational leaders want church growth to be quick and dramatic. They go to seminars, read books, and subscribe to newsletters. Whenever some pastor “strikes it rich,” he is the latest expert and sells his own seminars, books and tapes. If it’s not cell churches, it’s purpose driven or emergent.

Like the market mavens who try (and fail) to spot the latest stock market trends, church growth experts tell us that we need to get on board with the DaVinci Code phenomenon which followed the Passion, 40 Days on Purpose, the Prayer of Jabez, Left Behind, Experiencing God, etc. None of these things significantly changed the American church. Some churches have experienced good results but, most often, gimmick growth results in the transfer of bodies from a small church to a larger one.

The church has been around a long time. I’m sure there have been many gimmicks in the past. Ultimately it is the power of the Holy Spirit that draws people to Christ. It is his grace that changes hearts and builds churches. This can happen fast but it usually happens at a slower pace and rarely results in a Megachurch.

1 comment:

Josh R said...

I noticed that the fastest growing churches in my neighborhood are the ones that are not afraid to preach the "Repent" sermon. A church full of loyal attenders who are unrepentant the rest of the week doesn't stand out.

When people begin to trust and obey, their lives are different, and people around them notice, and want to find out what makes them different.

Stock prices go up and down, but in the long term, it is the quality of the product that makes or breaks a company.