From the mail bag

I was recently asked, via email, for my answer to two questions regarding the multiplication of healthy churches. Given the nature of email, I composed a relatively quick, but hopefully helpful reply. I’m going to reproduce it below and perhaps tease it out some more in the days ahead. I suppose a test of whether anybody is still reading this blog would be to ask those with questions about any of these statements to send me an email via the mailbag function. Anyway, here goes:

What do you see as long-term consequences of failing to produce healthy reproducing churches?
(1) Disobedience to Christ!
(2) Existing churches become ingrown, consuming all resources on themselves instead of mobilizing them to advance the Great Commission.
(3) Eventual decline as existing churches age and begin down the backside of the health cycle.
(4) Failure to develop a new generation of leaders because existing leadership slots are all full.

What in your analysis are the causes for the failure to produce healthy reproducing churches?
(1) Tendency to view the focal point of the Great Commission as merely evangelism rather than making disciples and forming congregations. Net result is lots of professions, but no deep level commitment to spiritual transformation and building leaders.
(2) View of church growth that focuses drawing more and more people into a single congregation which results in more and more resources being consumed to serve and house that congregation rather than spread out by planting new congregations. Net result is that resources that could be unleashed for church planting and missions are tied up in facilities and support ministries.
(3) On the mission field, failure to adopt reproducible strategies for church planting (e.g., using missionary funds to build a church building that the indigenous people cannot afford, thereby sending the message that they can’t really plant churches themselves). Really, this is merely a variation of the same problem happening on the field that was described in the point before this.
(4) As congregations become more ingrown, they become less effective in evangelism and discipleship, resulting in fewer converts, increasing pessimism about being able to give up resources (money, people) for church planting, and growing distance from the culture around it.

I suppose I could tease this out a little more, but I think these are the big roots.


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