We are in a world that has stopped growing! Up until the last few weeks, our world has been based on Growth, exponential growth. But a small virus has prevented us from growing, over the next few months the world economy is likely to contract to a level unseen in almost a century.

Sadly many of our church models have followed the world, in believing that growth is the most important thing. But we have forgotten that growth without reproduction is fairly pointless. Even church planting models – like HTB “resource” churches are not based on new growth but breathing life into dead things.

Most church growth models intend to reach new people, by making their services attractional. This often include a focus on professionalised worship, simple teaching, wide use of social media, high quality children’s work, and emphasis on Millennials and young families. And while this does indeed attract people from outside church, the unintended consequence is high levels of transfer growth.

What this means is that often there is a drain from small inner city or rural churches to city centre and town centre, so while the churches in the centre do grow, the cost is paid by smaller churches that cannot match the “quality” of these highly resourced churches.

So while church growth models are commendable, they also come at a time when the church as whole is in decline. We need something better!

So I believe we need not church growth but church generosity, churches need to give away rather than hoard, and while many churches do give circa 10% of their income away, I wonder if we could think about Tithing (a tenth) in a different way. What about it every year, churches looked to give away a 10% of their people. So how could that look like?

  • Churches between 100-200 people could give 10% of their membership to a smaller, struggling church (including their giving) to help enable that church to engage in strategic mission in their area
  • Churches over 200 could give 10% of their people to plant a new church, 20 members could be a sustainable small church in an under churched are
  • Churches of 500+ churches could plant several churches in their local area, or a mix of church planting and assisting a small church locally

I wonder if we saw Church Generosity as the aim, the result would be a Kingdom of God focused Church Growth strategy, seeing the whole Church grow!

 

Michael Shaw

Michael Shaw is the pastor of Devonport Community Baptist Church in Plymouth.