Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Connection: Church Growth and Spiritual Formation – Part Two

One Sunday back in January Calvin and I worshipped at a little rural church tucked back in the woods at a very remote location up in Williamson County. Calvin had served this church in the early '60s though he was never officially appointed as the pastor. Indeed, in spite of the fact that it was no longer served, this little church soldiered on miraculously without an appointed pastor and refused to close. Calvin was serving a church in a nearby town when he responded to their request to hold services at the little rural church on Sunday evenings. Because of their tenacity he gladly complied with their request.

Unfortunately, Calvin's decision generated some hard feelings at the church that he was serving and as result he was moved to a new appointment the following June.

Ironically, the church in town closed a couple of decades later and the little church in the woods flourished beyond anyone's wildest expectations. In fact, Calvin and I had returned to the little church that day in January for the dedication of their new building which more than doubled their square footage. Amazingly, it appears they may outgrow this new space within 5 years!

How can one explain the paradox between the two churches, the one which once flourished only to close, and the one which all but closed but now continues to flourish? Could it be that, in spite of leading expert opinion claiming otherwise, location really doesn't play a significant role in church growth after all? What then, IS the determining factor? Try this radical concept on for size: A church which authentically lives out the Great Commission while possessing a passion for the Greatest Commandment at the heart of its culture.

Travels with Calvin and my service as CLS have taken me to a number of different churches, some flourishing and others in serious decline. Predictably, I've discovered that those churches which actively engage in outreach with their community have a vibrant, spirit of anticipation of fruit being borne from their efforts and a sense of expectation of blessings to come. A big part of their success is just attitude with the remainder being a willingness to leave the confines of the four walls of the church and engage their community.


Where do you see the church authentically living out the Great Commission while possessing a passion for the Greatest Commandment at the heart of its culture today?

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