Wednesday, April 21, 2010

William Willimon on growing churches . . .

Making disciples is the job of disciples in Acts. Mainline North American Protestantism, faced with steady decline in membership over the most recent decades, tends to waver between superficial techniques for church growth or unconvincing alibis for church death – “We are not really dying; we are tightening our ranks for service.” “Only the reactionary, conservative churches are growing. We are too liberal and socially progressive to attract new members.” Luke would not know what to make of a church no longer in the business of making more disciples. While the mission of the church is more than growth, it is not something other than growth. It is certainly not decline. We live in the gracious interim for witness (Acts 1:8). In Luke-Acts, any church bold enough to preach the Word, which dares to challenge the cultural status quo, which refuses to accept present political arrangements as eternally given, which is convinced of the truth of its message, which is willing to suffer for the truth will grow. God gives growth to such churches.

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