CHURCH GROWTH PHILOSOPHY
Part of the LifeandLeadership.com ministry resources on Church Leadership, Church Health and Renewal. It discusses perspectives that were important to the first edition of the site in 2012, and is now part of the site archive.
In church leadership, many materials are based on the assumptions of the church-growth perspective, usually suggesting more effective efforts to attract outsiders and help them be more receptive to the gospel. They affirm the minority status of the church and the need to be missional, but still convey hope for established churches to redefine strategies to appeal to those who may be attracted to the gospel. On a more pragmatic level, church growth does all it can to reach people while preserving a more conservative Evangelical theological orientation. Given that it tries to find relevant ways of connecting with people, adapting cultural preferences in ways that are congruent with Scripture, some refer to this as “accommodation without compromise.”
This approach peaked in the 1990s with the seeker-sensitive movement. It is strongly criticized among many missional and emergent authors. Certainly to the extent that church growth minimizes theology, is overly pragmatic, fails to truly make disciples, minimizes deep spiritual transformation, is tied to the old cultural assumptions of American Christendom, etc., the criticism is just. Yet these weaknesses are not necessarily characteristic of all who follow a church growth philosophy. Depending on the author, church growth has enduring value in helping churches remove obstacles to evangelism and become more intentional about reaching people.
Ministry Resources on Church Growth Philosophy
- George G. Hunter, III, The Apostolic Congregation: Church Growth Reconceived for a New Generation — A thoughtful recasting of the church growth philosophy for the current era. Offers of healthy defense of principles such as attraction, relevance, reaching receptive people, target evangelism, change, strategic planning, etc.
Other Helpful Resources:
- Thom Rainer, The Book of Church Growth: History, Theology, and Principles — An academic level overview of the history and theology of church growth. Presents a theology of church growth through the lens of the classic categories of systematic theology, alongside a thorough discussion of church growth as it relates to all areas of church life and effectiveness.
- Gary McIntosh and Paul Engle, Editors, Evaluating the Church Growth Movement: 5 Views (Counterpoints: Church Life) — A thorough analysis of Church Growth, with pro and con articles.
- Gary L. McIntosh and R. Daniel Reeves, Thriving Churches for the Twenty-First Century: 10 Life-Giving Systems for Vibrant Ministry – Discusses the ten most significant components of effective congregational ministry in the postmodern era from a church growth perspective.
- Gary L. McIntosh, Church That Works: Your One-Stop Resource for Effective Ministry — One of the most widely respected writers in the field of church growth distills his insights into over 250 pages of short, quick-access articles on most areas pertaining to church effectiveness.
- Gary L. McIntosh, Biblical Church Growth: How You Can Work With God to Build a Faithful Church – A solidly evangelical presentation of the biblical heartbeat of church growth leaders.
Related Ministry Resources
Other Resources on Church Leadership, Church Health and Renewal:
- Church Leadership, Church Health and Renewal, Index
- Church Leadership, Church Health and Renewal – Theological Foundations, Ecclesiology
- Church Leadership, Church Health and Renewal – Philosophical Foundations – e.g. Church Growth, Missional, Emergent, and Other Missionally Responsive Trajectories
- Church Leadership, Church Health and Renewal – Practical Foundations, Church Dynamics and Research
- Church Leadership, Church Health and Renewal – Practical Foundations, Congregational Culture, Church Identity
- Church Leadership, Church Health and Renewal – Practical Foundations, Church Size, Size Transitions
- Church Leadership, Church Health and Renewal – Practical Foundations, Research and Case Studies on Effective Churches
- Church Leadership, Church Health and Renewal – Special Situations, Small Church Development
- Church Leadership, Church Health and Renewal – Strategies for Renewal
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