I believe church growth happens through discipleship. To this end, Jesus chose a small group of men to train them for leadership. In my opinion, this is the model for the church – we train people in groups to become leaders in ministry. I believe effective small group ministry and leadership development are at the heart of a strong church. Small groups can be used for outreach/evangelism, discipleship, and leadership training – each group performing a function within the total ministry of the church. In addition to small groups, the church should have individuals trained to lead people through the process of discipleship. The church that wants to grow needs to have a series of systems that are essential to the health of the church and to the development of healthy disciples.
Systems For a Healthy Church
Healthy churches have systems for:
- Knowing the needs of the community and meeting those needs.
- Welcoming people into the church and helping them feel comfortable and confident.
- Helping people get involved in the life of the church (worship, teachings, small groups, and opportunities for service).
- Teaching people from childhood through adulthood to become fully committed disciples of Jesus. This should include inter-generational influence (in both directions).
- Identifying and training leaders both ministry leaders & spiritual leaders (Elders).
- Church discipline & restoration.
- Retaining members or helping them find a church that is a better “fit.”
- Investing resources (money, people, time, etc.) in other ministries (missionaries, church planting, parachurch ministries, and denominational causes).
I believe the church will grow when it has each of these systems clearly defined within the unique mission of the church and each system is adequately staffed with well-trained people. If any of these systems are missing, the church will be limited. In addition to these systems, the church must focus on Biblical preaching/teaching for life transformation and worship that inspires people to exalt God above all. Teaching and worship are central to every activity in the church.