The best way to grow a church
January 12 2001 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

The best way to grow a church | Friday, Jan. 12, 2001

Friday, Jan. 12, 2001

The best way to grow a church

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor A number of books have been published lately on the general theme of "how to change your church." The basic premise of these books is that churches need to change, which is generally true. All churches must go through appropriate life-cycle changes, even if they are no more than generational. But not every church needs to convert to a contemporary worship model or revamp a discipleship program that is working well. If truth be known, some churches that currently meet the needs of a substantial segment of their community cannot simultaneously make the changes needed to fill their sanctuaries with newcomers. Like all other congregations, however, they can still be involved in church growth.

A vital way of promoting new growth while respecting the validity and integrity of established congregations is for those churches to birth new missions.

In a properly envisioned and well-supported new church start, significant growth is more likely and more harmonious.

In new churches, it is obvious that everyone is needed, so members have extra incentive to be involved and to accept responsibilities that they may never have considered (or have been offered) in a larger, established church.

In new churches, the sense of community is young and vital. New members are easily absorbed into the fellowship and may be allowed to express their gifts without earning tenure.

In new churches, outreach is natural. Members know the church has been planted for the purpose of bringing others into the family of God, and are naturally inclined to invite friends, neighbors and co-workers to attend.

New churches can also be targeted to meet specific needs of language groups and new population centers, or even to meet generational needs.

As North Carolina's population continues to boom, new congregations are not only ideal, but will be essential to the future vitality and growth of the church. Baptists have fallen far behind the curve when it comes to keeping up with the influx of new arrivals.

New church starts often begin with the vision of an individual or the prompting of a larger denominational entity, but they grow best when they are birthed and nurtured by other churches that are willing to invest time, resources and members in establishing new works.

Here's one example of how that approach can work. When the sleepy village of Cary began to blossom in the 1960s, First Baptist Church of Cary sponsored Greenwood Forest Baptist Church on what was then the southern fringe of town. Greenwood Forest grew and was healthy.

As Cary continued its southward march in the 1980s, Raleigh Baptist Association talked up the need for another new church, and Greenwood Forest joined with First Cary, Salem (Apex) and Ephesus (Raleigh) Baptist churches in sponsoring Woodhaven Baptist Church, in close proximity to Cary, Apex, Holly Springs and Fuquay-Varina. Woodhaven grew and was healthy.

As Cary pushed westward in the 1990s, the Raleigh Association again brokered an agreement in which several churches, including Woodhaven, Greenwood Forest, Collins Grove (Holly Springs) and Good Hope (Cary), with Greenwood Forest taking the lead, contributed to the birth of Westwood Baptist Church. Westwood grew and was healthy.

As cultural and generational shifts become increasingly apparent in the new decade, an embryonic "Generation X" church recently found a sponsor in Westwood. Now The Village, as the mission is known, has its chance to grow and to be healthy.

Along with this linear progression, several of the churches named have started other missions, including multiple language churches.

In some cases, the church starts have received additional assistance from the local association, the Baptist State Convention and the North American Mission Board. Through cooperative giving, even congregations not directly involved can still have a hand in church starts.

As we enter this new decade/century/millennium, many things will change - but the need to establish new churches will remain at the forefront of our calling.

Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
1/12/2001 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments
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