A young couple are expecting their first child. Already in their seventh month they explain to a group of friends how excited they are that things have been going smoothly; regular check ups, eating healthy, plenty of rest. They are ready.
One of their friends asks them what color did they paint the baby's room. Another asks what bed did they get. Another couple asked if they will be needing additional diapers and things since they were courious why there has been no baby shower, at least not one they were invited to.
The young couple looked at everyone and them each other as if to say, "what are you talking about?"
"We haven't done any of those things!" The husband exclaims. Shocked the group of friends start shooting off a check list of questions: "Have you baby-proofed your house?" "Car seats?" "Do you have a crib?" "Are you going to nurse or use formula?"
The questions just kept coming. To every one's shock the young couple just looked at everyone and said, "We've been just so excited about the new growth to our family that we thought the baby would be fine just to be a part of who we are. We had no idea we'd have to make so many changes for just one addition."
The above story is made up and crazy to say the least. I don't know of anyone who has ever been expecting a baby to not do some things ahead of time to get ready for the new addition.
As crazy as the above scene sounds, would you believe this is all too common outlook when it comes to church growth?
There are three common types of thoughts when it comes to growing a church. The first is called, "The Revivalist" style. This method believes, "all we need is a good revival and the church will grow." While that certainly is a good thought, unfortunately it's not only grossly unbiblical, it's just not true. The second is called "The Programmatic" style. This thought process follows the belief, "if we can get the right programs and events and ministries in place then the church will grow." Again, this is a good thought and when done does produce a level of growth; however if that's all that's done then growth will halt and level off quickly.
The third is called, "The Natural" style. This group comes to the table with the same understanding as the previous two, which is, "God provides the growth, He is in charge" but before the "naturalist" start on any program or ministry they first ask the question, "what do we need to get rid of that is hindering us from growing?"
Now that is one painfully honest question to ask. Because lets be honest, most things at the church are there because we like them. We may have even been the ones to make them or invent them or even "birth" them. But the truth is every level of growth your church or organization goes through will bring new changes. Much like a family with five children will look, act, operate differently than a family with two children, why?
Growth changes everything.
Don't fall victim to getting so focused for new growth that you don't first answer the tough questions, how will be handle and take care of these new additions? Are there systems in place to help outsiders become insiders?
Are there things in our church, even good things, that are unknowingly prohibiting us from growing?