Growing Churches — What do they have in common?

In the summer I was invited to participate in a survey on growing churches.  I was asked as the minister of Westminster because we fit the requirements–that, according to the official records of the denomination, we have grown consistently by at least 5% annually between 2008 and 2011.

The study was done by David Moody, Assistant Minister of Chippawa Presbyterian Church.

I appreciated the fact that the research was being done.  Why?  Because in today’s world we can so often focus on the negative.  The Presbyterian Church in Canada is not a big denomination–in fact, we’re quite small in the grande scheme of things.  So when there’s positive things happening, it’s even more important to look at them carefully, notice what’s happening, and share those insights.

Of course, it’s important to keep in mind that in this context “growing” refers to numbers.  And I feel strongly that we’re called to be faithful, not successful by the world’s standards.  But one of the findings of the survey that I found encouraging was the centrality of Christ and of prayerfully discerning the movement and leading of the Holy Spirit.  Without Jesus, nothing we do really matters.  It’s not about numbers; it’s about discipleship.

The complete first draft of the results (pending some feedback from participants) can be read by clicking here.  (You’ll be re-directed to the Westminster Church website.)  But, so that you can have a quick taste, here is the list of primary ministries that are “vital” or “very important” in these churches:

1. Relevant Preaching. 2. Inspiring Music in Worship. 3. Sunday Morning children’s programming. 4. Local mission. 5. Corporate prayer (outside of worship). 6. Pastoral care.

Just seeing titles doesn’t tell you much.  For example, what is meant by ‘inspiring worship’?  The survey tells how many use what kinds of music etc.  So I encourage you to click on the link above and check out the results and the narrative portion of the paper.  How people describe their results is very telling.

I leave with an encouraging word to Westminster.  We are well on track in many areas.  We are on an ascending road, a journey.  We should always be prayerfully working on how to deepen our sense of calling and service; but should rest secure knowing that it’s all about Jesus and the good news about him.  If we keep focussed on that, God takes care of the rest.

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