Thursday, June 25, 2015

Five Ingredient of a Growing Church: Insight From Bisagno

One of the books most, if not all, pastors new to the ministry ought to invest in is John R. Bisagno's Letters to Timothy: A Handbok for Pastors. It is a simple-to-read-and-understand guide for ministers. It is essentially a how-to guide for Protestant clergy. Bisagno touches on virtually every area of ministry from leadership to preaching to funerals to working with deacons, etc.

The second chapter discusses briefly five ingredients of a growing church - a list I want to highlight here. A few of the five "ingredients" are worth expanding upon.

1. Growing Churches Have Strong, Pastoral Leadership

To put it simply, an incompetent pastor-leader will stunt the growth of a local church. This is why leadership matters. It is not enough to preach or even to visit and cry with parishioners. A pastor must lead.

2. Growing Churches Believe the Bible

Unfortunately this point still needs to be made. To doubt the authority of Scripture is to place the local congregation on shaky ground. A church unsure about where truth ultimately lies is a church that will forever struggle with its identity, purpose, and mission.

Bisagno adds:
[Each pastor] were not attempting to be apologists. They were not defending the Bible, debating it, or trying to prove it. They wee preaching it, explaining it, applying it, and illustrating it. (6-7)
3. Growing Churches Are Characterized By Redeeming Love and Joy

Christians should not be a sour people. If one truly believes they were blind but now see or were dead and are now alive and were once enslaved but now free, we have abundant reasons to rejoice! A church entrapped by traditionism or moralism will be an unloving, dry church that will run off potential members.A growing church is a place of evident joy. The people truly love each other and enjoy each other's company.

4. Growing Churches Are Unified

Unity is the byproduct of redeeming joy and love yet at the same time unity produces redeeming love and joy. It is reciprocal. Unity is central to the local church. Unity is diminished when a congregation focuses on lesser, earthly needs instead of greater, eternal needs. The propagation of the gospel ought to be primary above all else.

A healthy, unified church is one focused on Christ and centered on his gospel. Focus on anything else, and church-unity is at risk.

5. Growing Churches Are Driven

Unless a church is serious about growing and willing to do the hard work necessary to grow, it will not grow. It really is that simple. A loving, unified church that does not enter its community and seek to reach the lost will not grow - regardless of its indomitable spirit.

Healthy churches are driven to see people saved and sanctified. But that takes work. It takes effort and purpose.


Conclusion

Admittedly, there is nothing surprising about this list. Even a cursory reading of the New Testament reveals the above list ought to be obvious. We could summarize these five ingredients into one: be the church. A church is one that model's Christ, foreshadows our future life and worship in heaven, and reaches people with the gospel.

Before concluding, however, consider these final words from Bisagno:
The tone of each of these five ingredients is clearly set by the pastor. It all starts in the pulpit. It starts in your heart. Keep your eyes on the Lord. Keep your ears open to the Great Commission. Keep your chin up and your knees down. The best is yet to come. (8)
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