SGBC Modesto

Thoughts on Church Growth

March 13, 2024 by

William Heinrich

The evangelical Church, under the advice of the prolific writer George Barna, has learned how to sell itself to America . Most present day pastors with growing churches have placed themselves on the “Cutting Edge.” They have studied what people want or will buy and have ¬†learned how to sell it. This is called, according to Barna, “Marketing the church.” They have found that the majority feels that America ‘s Christianity is dominated by their parents’ generation. They desire a real spiritual experience and cannot relate to the music and the traditions of the generation before them. They are concerned for those of their own generation and want the church to become fitted to their needs. They quote surveys, polls, market analyses and experts demanding change. Traditional churches, desiring growth and believing growth is proof of God’s blessing, become contemporary churches. The gospel, which once was presented as good news for man’s offensive sins, is usually given without emphasis on “offensive sins.” Songs once classical like “Power in the Blood” are no longer sung because the mention of blood might be a put off to a so-called “Seeker.”

People looking for a church today are more often than not shopping for the best buys. They go to this church for the music, and that church for the children’s programs, and so on. Commitment is rare, membership is not desired, repentance is omitted, guilt from preaching about sin is unheard of and the old hymns, tried and proven for hundreds of years, are unsung.

The atmosphere must be warm, the sinner present must be supported, the message must be positive, short, simple and uplifting, the dress informal, the music moving, often to clapping and the uplifting of hands. Drama and skits draw many and serve greatly to satisfy a market of people desiring to be entertained. T.V. has exalted to popularity. In the past Christians gave up popularity when they accepted the gospel.

The church of today is changing to what the people want. Instead of catering to “felt needs” and encouraging focus on self, such as self-interests and self-centeredness, it should be showing people a
way out of self. Chuck Colson was right when he said, “The church is no longer regarded as a repository of truth, nor a source of moral authority, but merely a place to go for spiritual strokes.” The church has become obsessed with itself. They concentrate on what they want, how others can meet their felt needs and how God can relieve them of their burdens.

Isn’t it time for the true believer to evaluate the whole church growth movement? Is our situation improved or in serious trouble? We have come a long way. The evidence is available to all who will come out of the euphoria of it all and compare today’s “Church Growth” to God’s only standard, His Word.