Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Theology and Church Growth

"Yeah but that kind of theology doesn't grow churches" I remember about Christmas last year, going to my cousins church and going up to speak to the preacher to air some differences of opinion I had with his sermon.

Having just completed the most faith-screwing-with year of my life, I was at a stage where I pretty much didn't have any idea at all what I really believed, and was having enough trouble with that as it was, then this. I think I raised some questions that were racing around in my head re the Bible, how we got it, who wrote it etc, questions I still mull over.

And then he said that. Now for me, as someone who is massively passionate about seeing people come into relationship with Jesus (yes I still believe that despite the cliche-ness of it) this totally troubled me.

I have always held that it is God who calls us to him, that if chrches grow, its because of God. So... Would God not grow a church I was leading because I didn't think the right thing? That question massively screwed with my head.

So should I just conform to standard Christian belief and ignore all of my questions? I crtainly hope not.

You look at a guy like Spong, somebody with ome pretty 'different' understandings of God to what you would find in most churches. And in the area over which he presides church attendance has halved int he time he's been there.

Then you look and see the churches that are often pretty conservative, maybe fundamentalist (crappy terms, but I know what I mean by them) in their theology, and they seem to be the ones growing.

I think maybe there are some sociological reasons behind this, in terms of people's need and desire to have answers, and to avoid difficult questions without solid answers and to know that they're right etc, but I still reckon God plays a massive part in churches growing.

And before anybody starts ranting about numbers not being the measure of success or whatever, i am well aware of that. But at the end of the day i think the world would be a better place with 100 switched on disciples rather than 10, and at the moment, churches are the main places producing passionate disciples of Christ.

Sorry about the long post, but its abig one for me.


Anonymous said...

Hey Digs, Storky here. Great blog site mate, and this last posting is a doozy! Have to concur with you on why some of the churches with more "strict" interpretations of Christianity (presented in a rock-concert dressing with a Guru-Bob homily) are rolling in the numbers (and the $$$$). In times of uncertainty, people want security, certainty and absolutes.

Anyway, one comment that Sarah makes, that makes a lot of sense - "There are so many different denominations and churches, because God made so many different personality types." One or two variations just wouldn't suit everyone - especially in the age of Post-Mod diversity.

Faith in the grey zone ain't easy, but it may be more authentic (in a true-to-yourself sense), and lead to more reliance on God than on yourself.

Ontario Emperor said...

I'm curious if the Rick Warren movement (purpose driven this, purpose driven that) is making headway Down Under. It's fairly controversial in the U.S., and critics claim that it's more interested in growing attendance than serving God.

Digger said...

Yeah it's pretty popular over here, particularly in your big lets-try-and-be-Saddleback churches.

From what I've heard from most people its done great things for churches, but obviously hard to tell whats going to happen to all those people in the long run.

There a few over here who don't like it, but my feeling is they're just your standard disagree with anything from a big church people. Wouldn't call it controversial though.

Whats the feeling like in the States towards the mega-churches? Does everybody try and copy them or is there a bit of a backlash against them generally?

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