I’ve been thinking about how one would define a growing church this week as a result of a recent conversation who thought VCF was too small for their preferences. Last week, I discussed how smaller churches like VCF contribute to the body of Christ. This week, I thought about rethinking how to define a successful church in some new ways.
Last year, we introduced our 3-part vision of Look Up, Love Others, and Launch Out. Included in our vision were five desired outcomes we hope to accomplish at VCF, focusing on helping people discover what they are good at, then encouraging and resourcing them to do that ministry really well.
When everything has to fit within a pre-ordained box – even if it’s a good box – it stifles outside-the-box thinking. I’m pretty sure it is not theological correct to insist on Holy Spirit having limits on how He impacts the lives of God’s children.
There are some great, innovative churches doing wonderful work to get the message of the Gospel out in new ways. The limitations within small churches shouldn’t cause us to settle for business-as-usual; they should spark us to become more innovative as Holy Spirit leads us.
Virtually every historical innovation and revival in Christianity happened, not when everything was going well, but when we faced challenges. Smaller churches are encouraged often by necessity, to look for fresh, new ways of doing ministry instead of being forced into a preconceived definition of success.
VCF is blessed to have a much higher percentage of our budget devoted to staff than most churches. But we also can get the idea that the professionals will take care of our spiritual growth and responsibilities. However the biblical model is that all of us need to participate in and with “…to build up, and …equip the saints.” (Eph. 4:12-16) We can help and encourage each other to do this.
So, what might some of those new definitions of church growth look like? We won’t know until we create an environment where they can flourish and show us. But scripture sure gives us some guidelines.
- Growth by multiplication.
- Growth by sending
- Growth in influence
Next week, I’ll unpack these three guidelines.
Lack of numerical growth should never be seen as an excuse to settle for less. But it should also never be seen as a reason to criticize, diminish or ignore churches that don’t fit into our definition of success.
Every church has something they can contribute to the body of Christ.
What VCF is called to do in God’s kingdom may not be noticed by others, but if we are practicing the Great Commandment and the Great Commission, we should be encouraged and empowered to keep living, doing and pursuing Jesus.