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Theology of Church Growth: A Look at the New Testament

Profile image of Luke A Johnston

“We may not have a lot of people at our church. But, we don’t care about quantity. We aren’t all about the numbers like some other churches. We care about quality people and ministries.” Unfortunately, this seems to be a pervasive attitude among many plateaued and declining churches in North America. The argument can go on all day concerning quality versus quantity in a church from a philosophical perspective, but for those that hold to Scripture as instructive and authoritative, the church must develop a more robust theology of church growth. In other words, what does the Bible have to say regarding outreach and numerical church growth? This lesson will seek to provide a summary of the biblical perspective of outreach and church growth.

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As a church-en-route is called to be misisonal by definition theology needs to follow the requiremenst of the call of the Triune God. This paper provides a bird's eye view on the missional-biblical approaches, the misisonal-systematic reflections and the misisonal praxis and a farewell to the pilgrim church en route.

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This paper evaluates Keller's philosophy of ministry as articulated in Center Church. The critique concludes that Keller's approach is biblically off-center in three major areas: contextualization, common grace, and the church.

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BACKGROUND AND DEFINITIONS OF EVANGELISM But what does this word evangelism really mean and what is its origin? Well, let's start with a definition. Evangelism is the presentation of Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit so that others may come to put their trust in God through Him, accepting him as their Saviour and serving him as their Lord. (1) The word comes from the Greek noun euangelion which means gospel or good news. The verb form of the word is euangelizes that which means to preach the gospel (2) or to tell good news. A related Greek word is marturein which means to bear witness. (3) Less frequently used is a third Greek word kerussen or to proclaim the gospel used by Paul. EVANGELISM IN THE DAYS OF THE APOSTLES AND THE TIME OF EARLY CHURCH FATHERS What did this good news mean to the first century church and to the people with whom they shared? They knew the good news concerned the Messianic promises that God would bring salvation to His people, make it available to the gentile world and would be the Sovereign King of all. Luke records that it was in Jesus' hometown of Nazareth that Jesus announced the coming of His kingly rule. "He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was His custom. And He stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: 'The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.' Then He rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on Him, and He began by saying to them, 'Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing'." (Luke 4:16-21) In this passage we see the careful interaction of the three words we have defined. Jesus, using the written words of the prophet Isaiah, proclaimed the good news of His appearing to the people in the synagogue. They were the ones who then bore witness to what they had seen. The good news we have in written form, the four gospels that we know as Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, came from the first-hand accounts of witnesses to the original events. Many in the synagogue had their doubts about this man who grew up with them. Sometimes the disciples themselves had doubts about who Jesus was. However, Jesus was shown "through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by His resurrection from the dead"(Romans 1:4).This is what His followers witnessed, and then they bore witness by proclaiming what they had seen and heard. So several reasons emerge for the fervour of the disciples as they went bearing witness of Jesus to the world. First, there was the deep and abiding faith that they had for the Lord. They had been witnesses to His claims of kingship of a kingdom that was not of this world. Then He appears to them after His death in a glorified body! I would be convinced, how about you? This faith was strengthened after His resurrection when He shared with them the Scriptures which He fulfilled during His life before their eyes (Luke 24:27). Jesus had shared these Scriptures with them during His ministry but the disciples and His other followers did not understand them until after the resurrection (Luke 9:43-45; 18:31-34; Matthew 16:21,22; 17:11,12).Secondly, they had a deep and abiding love for the Lord Jesus. We do tend to love those we choose to be with. He cared for them, taught them God's truth and loved them (1 John 4:19). The disciples and other of Jesus' followers wanted to show their love in response to His love by obeying Him. For Jesus said "If anyone loves me, he will obey My teaching" (John 14:23).Thirdly, it was God's clear and consistent command to His followers to take the good news out into the world and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything Jesus has commanded us to do. This command to His followers and through them to all believers is found recorded for us in the following verses: Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-18; Luke 24:45-49; and Acts 1:8. We, too, are commanded to show our love for the Lord by obeying this command to share our faith with those with whom we come into contact with .Fourthly, Jesus promises to be with us to the very end of the age as we carry out this command (Matthew 28:20). Not only that, but He promised to send the Holy Spirit to be with us, to empower us, to be with us (a Divine Blessing in and of itself!) to remind us of Jesus' words, and to teach us all things (Acts 1:8, John 14:25). Sharing your faith with another person is indeed a scary thing to do by yourself. But these verses promise that the Lord is doing the hard work and we are but His mouthpiece or spokesperson. And at the same time the Holy Spirit is helping us, He has, is and will work in the other person's heart and life to demonstrate their need for a Saviour and to draw all men unto Jesus (John 16:8-11; John 12:32; 1 Thessalonians 1:4,5).The early believers came under heavy persecution for sharing their faith. Many events have transpired since then which hindered the spread of the Gospel in the time since Jesus rose from the dead. Yet people still share their faith and bring others into the kingdom of God. It was God's command to all believers to share their faith then, and to all believers which have preceded us, and it remains the believer's command and commission today. As these reasons motivated the saints of the early church, they should motivate us as well. We have come to faith in the Lord, have come to love Him, want to serve and obey Him and, of course, want to live in His presence and see His power transform lives around us.

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Mission is first and foremost about God and God’s historical redemptive initiative on behalf of creation. In this regard, the Third Lausanne Congress affirms that the Church is called to witness to Christ today by sharing in God’s mission of love through the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. The World Council of Churches states that ‘all Christians, churches and congregations are called to be vibrant messengers of the gospel of Jesus Christ’. How the Church participates in the mission of God is a question on which one should reflect. This article therefore discusses the mission approaches of Ghanaian Pentecostal churches. The article begins with a description of the Ghanaian mission strategic plan, their spiritual approach to mission, and then proceeds with other approaches in the light of Walls’ ‘five marks of mission’ (i.e. evangelism, discipleship, responding to the social needs of people through love, transforming the unjust structures of society, and safe-guarding the integrity of creation) and Krintzinger’s (and others’) holistic mission approach (i.e. kerygmatic, diaconal, fellowship, and liturgical). This article argues that mission should be approached with a careful strategy.

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  1. (PDF) PASTORAL LEADERSHIP AND THE PROBLEMS OF CHURCH GROWTH: A CASE

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  1. PDF Thesis on Church Growth in NWMN

    CHURCH GROWTH IN THE NORTHWEST MINISTRY NETWORK A THESIS SUBMITTED TO THE FACULTY OF THE COLLEGE OF MINISTRY ... rise.aspx#growth.pdf. 6 The Washington State average for 2005 to 2009 was 6.5 percent for 2011. "Population Estimates, National Totals: Vintage 2011," United States Census Bureau, December 21, 2011, accessed June 6, 2013, ...

  2. PDF An Analysis of Dissertations on Church Growth Published During ...

    on church growth principles have not been conducted, even though viewpoints or theories of common church growth principles should be reconsidered according to recent cultural situations or social needs. Most researchers have still accepted unintentionally these common church growth principles based on opinions of traditional church growth ...

  3. Strategies for 21st Century Healthy Church Growth through the Spiritual

    Dr. Taek Soo Kim in his dissertation notes that the growth of a church is not an option, but a necessity because the growth of a church is recognized 1 Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Church (Grand Rapids: Zondetvan, 1995), 102. 2 Ibid.,17. 130b Moorehead, The Church Growth Factor (Manila: Christ for Greater Manila, 1988), 1-131.

  4. PDF Understanding declining church attendance and stratEgies for Growth

    Evidence of a decades-long decline in American church engagement is now undeniable (Voas, 2016). Sunday church attendance declined 12% from 2009 to 2019 (Pew Research, 2020). Each generational cohort attends church at a lower rate than their predecessors (see Figure 1, where each colored line represents a 10-year age period).

  5. Perspectives on the Church and Church Growth Theory

    an aspect of Church Growth Ecclesiology. My thesis is this: THESIS: Church Growth ecclesiology represents an innovative and integrated combination of at least ten perspectives on the church that can be found in the history of the church. 1. The Church As A Fellowship Of Disciples Of Jesus: An Early Church, Organismic Perspective A. The Perspective

  6. The Impact of Presence and Touch on Church Growth

    the impact of presence and touch on church growth . a thesis project submitted in partial fulfillment . of the requirements . for the doctor of ministry degree . in missional effectiveness . by . bill berg . st. paul, minnesota . may 2020 . 2 . acknowledgments .

  7. PDF Pursuing Discipleship for Church Growth: a Practical Theological Study

    Relational discipleship is found to hold a great potential for church growth. The Methodist Church Ghana uses Small Groups, referred to in the Methodist tradition as the Bible Class as effective tool for relational discipleship for church growth. Bible Class has been used from the inception of the church for exponential growth of the church.

  8. Liberty Theological Seminary Effective Strategies for Healthy Church

    EFFECTIVE STRATEGIES FOR HEALTHY CHURCH GROWTH IN THE ... A Thesis Project Submitted to Liberty Theological Seminary in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree DOCTOR OF MINISTRY By Man Oh Han Lynchburg, Virginia November, 2006 . ii ABSTRACT

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  10. BALANCING CHURCH GROWTH WITH CHURCH HEALTH

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  11. PDF An Investigation of Leadership Approaches and Their Impact on

    Church Growth. According to Ikenye (2010), church growth refers to all that is involved in bringing men and women to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, have fellowship with Him, and into responsible church membership. The North American society for Church Growth (as cited in Rainer, 1993) defines church growth as that

  12. Biblical Strategy and Shift to Spiritual Driven Church Growth

    insists on "Biotic Paradigm," based on biblically and naturally oriented church growth. 4 4. Pastor Rick War ren asserts, "The issue of the church in the 21st century is not the growth of the church, but the health of the church." 5 5. Elmer Towns states that focusing on healthy and fruitful church growth is the goal to reach in the ...

  13. (Pdf) Pastoral Leadership and The Problems of Church Growth: a Case

    Chapter Dec 2013 C.B.E.M. Aalbers View Show abstract A Study of Pastoral Leadership that has had Great Influence on Korean Church Growth Focusing on Jae Gun Revival Denomination in Korea...

  14. Leadership Factors That Influence Church Growth for Western North

    The results of this thesis project will provide Church of God pastors experiencing growth stagnation with insight into how their successful colleagues and contemporaries are presently stimulating and maintaining church growth in the Western region of North Carolina. Words: 249

  15. PDF Church Growth As Part of A Wholistic Missiological Approach? by Jorg

    Church growth as missiological theory and methodology is a rather recent phenomenon, dating back to the fifties of this century. It has first rushed to prominence as the brainchild of the American missiologist Donald A. McGavran. The emphasis of this theory can be perceived in two parts, exactly as the name suggests. ...

  16. (PDF) A THEOLOGY OF CHURCH GROWTH

    Drawing from the strengths of two divergent missiologies (The Gospel and Our Culture and Church Growth), this paper proposes an approach to gospel, church, and mission appropriate for the 21st century Church in Western context. Download Free PDF View PDF PHILIP ADJEI-ACQUAH Download Free PDF View PDF Evan Alexander

  17. PDF Christian Evangelism and Its Implication on Church Growth: an

    There are various definitions of evangelism. It is from the Greek concept "euangelismos" meaning "a preaching of, a zealous effort to spread the gospel, as in revival meetings". It also means "any zealous effort in propagandizing for a cause". (Webster's 1978:434) Evangelism also entails "proclaiming the gospel.".

  18. Pastoral Leadership and Church Growth: A review

    2021. Pastoral leadership and church growth are like the head and the brain. The two function as one; none can exist without another. The Church is house of God. Its leadership should be divinely ordained. This is the only way to make disciples of the whole nation effectively. This study explores the pastoral leadership and church growth using ...

  19. (PDF) Analyzing Factors Inhibiting the Growth of the Church According

    According to Rick Warren, healthy church growth is multi-dimensional growth, namely a church that grows closer to each other through fellowship, grows more earnestly through discipleship, and ...

  20. Leadership Culture: An Effective Leadership Strategy for Church Growth

    In church settings, leadership culture not only creates change but also transforms ministry strategy. Often, church leaders do not perceive culture as the driving force behind effective ministry operations. At Gateway Church, the researcher encountered church growth issues that other ministries struggle with as well, from organizational

  21. PDF Church Growth and Evangelism in the Book of Acts

    25. Peters focuses on Acts as much as any church growth writers although he does not identify himself with the "Fuller" Church Growth Movement. The value of redaction criticism is that it presents Luke as an author who intentionally arranged his material in a precise order to communicate a specific message, i.e., the evangelistic mandate.

  22. Theology of Church Growth: A Look at the New Testament

    Theology of Church Growth: A Look at the New Testament Luke A Johnston "We may not have a lot of people at our church. But, we don't care about quantity. We aren't all about the numbers like some other churches. We care about quality people and ministries."

  23. PDF A Thesis Project Submitted to The Faculty of Liberty University ...

    early church, which was a church that was vibrant in the area of growth and spiritual life. Based on questionnaires sent to pastors and other ministry leaders, the project will reveal the need for a ... as an appendix to your completed thesis or dissertation. 6 Your IRB-approved, stamped consent form is also attached. This form should be copied ...