Church Growth: Beyond the Box

Posted: November 14, 2011 in Church Praise and Worship
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Praise and Worship for the Modern Age vs Church Growth
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Beyond the Box

And so, many of the church growth models that continue to spread around the church do far more harm than good. As the Church Growth crowd advances a host of “new” and “enlightening” methodologies to encourage churches to grow through relating to the culture, much of what the church has been identified with throughout the centuries has been lost in the process. As a result, the proponents of growth encourage pastors to throw out their long-held traditions in favor of promoting the latest of everything from the society around them that is considered to be cutting edge or hip. Dresses and ties are exchanged for Levis, shorts and flip-flops. Hymns are displaced by praise choruses.

Bill Easum and Dave Travis’ book Beyond the Box explains the intent here. These Church Growth sponsors admonished the
body of Christ not to stop at simply climbing out of the box of their traditional thinking. The call was to go much farther than that by promoting the utopian church as that which travels where no one has gone before. Don’t just get out of your box. “Go beyond the box,” the church growth advocate cries.

As one pastor who had taken this book verbatim to apply it with fervor in the church he ministered to explained, “We need to go for it!” To him that meant turning the whole church upside down – replacing all the of old with everything new. In these people’s eyes everything goes as long as the church grows.

In a certain Palm Sunday service the planning committee of a church that had come under the influence of new “Beyond the Box” church growth philosophies attempted to meld with society in an interesting manner. At the end of the service they had planned to have someone call out to our Lord, “Hey Jesus, where is the party going to now.” This trite statement made for the sake of “relating to the culture” not only cheapened the work of Christ who died the next Friday in history but also ushered out of a complete  misunderstanding of worship. These people consistently depicted celebrative praise as being likened to a drunken brawl and the band was known to play secular party music during Sunday morning services. Accordingly the Sunday service that was elevated by
the church staff as being “the greatest of all” was when the band played Cool and the Gang’s “Celebrate Good Times” while the congregation “partied” and jived to the beat. “We Are Family” was the next on the list. In the act of dumbing down their church services for the sake of the masses they fell further down the slippery slope.

The focus of much of our church activity today has been diverted to surface-level activities for the sake of growth rather than the dependence on old time religion that focuses on evangelism. Yet Charles Spurgeon in his book Soul Winner prescribed church growth in a much different tone than we are currently hearing. He was the pastor of the Metropolitan Tabernacle in Newington during the mid-19th century while leading a significant evangelical revival. This great English pastor talked about church growth in terms of preaching the truth with power and conviction. He hailed evangelism as the fruit of chaste Christian living. Many were saved as these simple principles were applied in his church.

A host of leaders in our modern Church Growth Movement see it another way. They seek to attract people from a more superficial worldly perspective. In so doing, they find themselves appealing to church hoppers who are only looking for the latest and greatest place to attend. Take for example John Wimber’s efforts to promote of church growth through signs and wonders. In reality this
model of “power evangelism” revolving around “doing the stuff” appeared to be a methodology of building up the early Vineyard denomination by feeding off established churches. As in the example of southern British Columbia, Wimber would convince churches to hold signs and wonders seminars only to set up his own Vineyard church in the vicinity near after. As a result, parishioners from these host churches would move over into this new Vineyard congregation. According to James R. Coggins and Paul G. Heibert in Wonders in the Word, “The interdenominational seminars had seemed a ploy to start a new denomination”.

This is more of a manipulative sheep-steeling strategy than anything else. It concentrates on the external while emphasizing marketing rather than the dynamics of evangelism and ministering to the body. Therefore few are actually saved in a feel-good church environment that is run more by carnality than reliance on the truth.

And so a group of pastors, who thought of nothing other than church growth spent every moment of their day in that pursuit. They read every self-help church growth book that came on the market, hired a Church Growth consultant and even came up with church growth theories of their own. During a particular meeting one attendee encouraged them to become involved with
evangelism as prescribed in the Bible. The pastors responded with nothing but blank stares as these words ushered from the advisor’s mouth. They had never thought of that. Neither did they take the hint. They just continued on with the contrivances that they had learned from their mentors. And the church never grew.

Stay tuned for more!

The preceeding blog is an exerpt from Don Wigton’s book “Holy Wars.” Click here to purchase: http://www.authorhouse.com/BookStore/BookDetail.aspx?Book=267348

For free praise music, charts and study helps go to the Wigtune Praise and Worship Sitehttp//www.praisesong.net

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