Monday, 11 June 2012

Growth, Division, Multiplication

Organic growth is achieved through cell division, multiple cell differentiation, expansion and adaptation.

In church, are we willing to divide cells and build new smaller units of fellowship that expand and adapt for new purposes? How will those new cell units need to adapt to grow in a very different environment? How will they develop? Will a few parts of the body remain relatively unchanged in purpose and size, like our eyes?
Paul says, 'I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God gave the increase’ (1 Cor. 3:7).

Christ’s own growth example involved pruning away unproductive aspects of our individual and corporate lives: 'I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.' (John 15:1 - 4)

Our two-service proposal for Sunday worship is a low risk initiative that foreshadows future growth: the development of interdependent units of community, outreach and worship. Units that can spread and demonstrate the message of God’s Kingdom in a wider context than is possible now.

That's the ultimate aim of church growth. Beyond the numerical outreach, this proposal is a test of whether the church cell is capable of the cell division and differentiation needed to adapt to the needs of our community. To do so, the church needs to draw upon the moral and emotional energy reserves bestowed by God on all its members.

Uncontrolled, rapid cell division does not provide normal healthy growth and adaptation to a changing environment. It is like cancer and it can destroy us by first disrupting existing useful functions and finally spreading to destroy vital organs.

As a pre-cursor, it is far better to spur change by challenging church members to re-group around smaller initiatives that may involve working towards a goal outside of each other's comfort zone.
Beware of inward focused self absorption. There are those who believe that the church's primary duty is towards the comfort of its existing members. It's not change in itself that they fear, but the disruption of the comfortable relationships and roles that they've built for emotional support and insulation. As you know, Paul faced major emotional upheaval when the Holy Spirit made it clear that he had to move on from Ephesus never to return (Acts 21:13)

Finally, what are the lessons to be learnt from our past outreach initiative, Taste?
Was the whole church involved?
What worked and what didn't?
Was the mission to invite outsiders and attend with them accepted by all members?
Did any of the existing church members reject the idea on the level of personal encouragement and involvement?
Did it end for natural reasons, or was too much responsibility for success imposed on too few church members?
Why won't history repeat itself this time?

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