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What have we learned?

From this series, we have learned that some are so internally focused that they are content to maintain stagnate congregations. Some, it seems, are only minimally interested in efforts to reach out to their own community. It appears that others would prefer to wrap their decline in the robes of denial rather than look at themselves honestly or search for new growth strategies. For this vocal minority, the gospel is less the powerful, living word of God and more a set of local operating rules.
Fortunately, we also have seen that there are many Christians who are deeply concerned about our lack of evangelistic growth in the church, are eagerly exploring and implementing new growth strategies — not new doctrine — to reach the world for Christ.
Many churches are seeking new ways to grow. Some are focusing on creating inspirational worship services and more seeker-sensitive programs. Others, acting as salt and light, are finding ways to reach out into the community to serve others and open missional opportunities. These churches are the focus of our series — churches that are reaching out, growing, united and biblical.
A recurring reaction makes us wonder if there is some fundamental fear of growth. We also have seen that when churches grow, others often vigorously criticize them, sometimes even contending that the growth is evidence of doctrinal drift and apostasy. We hope this is not rooted in defensiveness about the critics’ own failure to make converts. It causes one to wonder if there is some fundamental fear of growth among us.
For some, a change in methods always seems to equate with a departure from the truth of the gospel. For others, the communication of the eternal and unchanging gospel constantly requires adaptation to an ever-changing culture. Our failure to reach our culture with the gospel has opened many eyes to the importance of understanding our neighbors if we are to convey the gospel to a contemporary society that has basically rejected Jesus and formalized religion.
A change in methods does not mean a change in the gospel. Churches that change the gospel message in order to reach a larger audience may experience a temporary surge, but without a firm, biblical foundation, it will be a short-lived fad.
No matter where they are located or what their size, we’ve learned that growing Churches of Christ are nearly always deeply committed to sharing the gospel, to understanding their culture and to serving others in the spirit of Christ. They remember the Great Commission was the Savior’s call for his followers and the root of the church’s mission. They are vibrant churches that have a mighty influence far beyond the inner walls of their buildings.
Although it’s not clear how best to accomplish renewed growth, our readers want others to know about Jesus and his redeeming love. And when people respond in obedience to the call of Jesus, the church grows.

Filed under: Editorial Staff Reports

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