Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I,” send me (Isa. 6:8).
God had a message to send, and Isaiah volunteered. Money was never the issue. Money is also not the main problem for the absence of local church growth. The absence of the Holy Spirit in the life and work of the local church is the number-one inhibiting factor. After that comes the absence of dedicated members: volunteers. Then comes the absence of a systematic program to mobilize the members. i.e., absence of leadership. Only then is the absence of money a problem.
There are several possible reasons for the absence of the Holy Spirit: sin in the life of the local leaders, lack of prayer on the part of the members, an amillennial eschatology that is suspicious of church growth and openly hostile to revival. An ethnic enclave mentality that resists “gentile” visitors, or the Spirit’s present unwillingness to bring salvation to the local church’s prime audience (this sometimes happens on the foreign mission field). Until these reasons are pursued and shown to be irrelevant to the local congregation’s situation, no new program for church growth should be adopted.
If you attend an anti-growth local church, it may be time to transfer your membership. Your efforts to build the local church will be frustrated. But if your congregation is willing to take some simple steps in order to grow, you should stay. Here are same relatively easy and inexpensive steps that could help. Suggest some of them. See how much resistance they meet.
Church growth should begin with a congregation-wide program of systematic prayer for church growth. Begin this prayer project with a time-table of anywhere from six months to a year. All organizational substitutes for this initiating prayer program must be abandoned. Systematic prayer comes first. Members should be encouraged to volunteer to pray at certain times each day for the souls of specific people or specific blocks in town, checking off on a printed sheet when they prayed and for how long. They should hand in or mail in this sheet weekly. This prayer program must be planned and monitored by the elders. It must be official, formal, and structured. I think the data on the sheets should be stored in a computerized data base program. This information is in Gods data base; why not in the local church’s? Only if there is too much resistance to actual records should the reports be abandoned. Military scouts report to headquarters. Why not church members? The idea here is to make this program an organized effort with measurable input and output.
Having begun a program of systematic prayer for church growth, the local congregation must now make plans for a positive answer to prayer. These plans must be systematic. Volunteers must be requested from the pulpit, by elders, and any other way that the leadership thinks will work.
Invite Your Neighbor to Dinner
Begin a program that shows families how to invite neighbors to dinner. Our generation has forgotten how to do this, which is why nobody knows the name of the families three doors down the block on both sides. The dinner invitation strategy is part of a multistage invitation plan. The first evening should be for breaking the ice. The prayer before the meal may be the only sign of the religious commitment of the host.
The point is, friends invite friends to church. Every church should organize regular training sessions on how to make new friends. This can become a major benefit to members, not only for evangelism but also to teach people how to make new friends. The congregation’s most successful friend-maker should be recruited to teach these skills.
(For the rest of my article, click the link.)