Rev. Dr. Olasupo Ayokunle
His Eminence, President, CAN and NBC
It is the desire and prayer of every Pastor and every faithful Church member that their Church would grow. The Church owes its existence to God. It is His creation through Jesus Christ. A Church is a congregation of the children of God. This is clearly stated in 1 John 3:1 that “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God”. God’s will is for us to live in loving fellowship and partnership as brothers and sisters within the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27). As we do this, God will make use of the contemporary Church to pattern itself after the New Testament Church, as God’s agent to motivate His people to: Joyfully worship Him, Fervently proclaim the Gospel, Lovingly educate and motivate His people in Christian living and service, and To compassionately and sacrificially follow the example of Jesus Christ, in ministering to the needs of the people.
The Command of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in Matthew 28:18-20, asking us to go and make disciples for all nations is not a suggestion or an advice. It is a command the Church must obey. Church growth has its root in our obedience to this command. Indexes to be considered for Church growth includes: Numerical growth, Spiritual growth, Biological growth, Extension growth and Cross-cultural growth. These are some of the salient indicators of Church growth. In addition, we must follow the pattern of Jesus Christ as recorded in the second and third Chapters of the book of Revelation. In His address to the seven Churches of old Asia, the Lord brought out the shortcomings in each of the Churches before giving specific instruction on the way out. Our diagnosis must be right for our treatment to be effectively right.
Dear people of God, we must know that restructuring never causes a Church to grow. However, it does help a Church to grow. We must therefore avoid beginning transformation or transitioning by restructuring. It is better to wait and ensure that our structure is not getting in the way of measurable Church growth before restructuring. Restructuring is to be done when needed or when we are sure doing so will defrost the system to ensure the ease of beginning new ministries.
According to Patricia  in christhoodinternationalministries.com, the seven keys to Church growth are:
Know where the Church is going by having a measurable and well defined vision, mission and values statement. This will help to set the direction for any organization and in developing a strategic plan. It will also help in mapping out the steps to get to the desired end.
Create an inviting atmosphere. Remember that people are naturally drawn to an aesthetically appealing environment. They like to be proud of where they worship vis-a-vis the comfortability, the cleanliness and the orderliness.
Create a welcoming experience. We must avoid ignoring or being inhospitable to Church visitors. We must make every Church member feel loved and welcomed into the family of Christ.
Care for Church Members. Understanding the felt and unique needs of Church members and ensuring that their needs are met within the scope of the Church vision, is critical to Church growth.
Provide opportunities to serve. The Church must follow the example of Jesus Christ by providing opportunities for members to use their gifts and opportunities to help others within and outside the Church. A well-defined strategic plan can help identify the kinds of service opportunities that support the vision of the Church.
Proper management of Church resources. We must never forget that God’s money is the most important money in the world to manage well. Churches that are good stewards of ministry funds, and are diligent with their budgeting processes, are better prepared financially for the needs of expanding facilities, updating equipment and in holistically meeting other needs of the Church.
Enjoy what you are called to do. The call of God should be enjoyable, fulfilling and balanced. Spending quality time with God regularly and religiously, is imperative for fueling the call and the anointing to do what needs to be done in a Church.
SUGGESTED RESTRUCTURING OPTIONS FOR EFFECTIVE CHURCH GROWTH
MULTI PASTORAL STAFF MINISTRY:
There are many Churches where the Pastor is the only one who does every ministerial duty. This can be the reason why many of our Churches remain small. One person can only attend to a certain number of people. If one person tries to visit, counsel and help everybody, it will surely be a herculean task. There is a limit to what one person can do. It will be beneficial for our Churches to exploit the blessing of multi Pastoral staff ministry in our Churches. There are challenges of trust in this but we must not give in to fear. The senior Pastor is not to be afraid of trusting people. Living in fear will let Satan have access to one’s ministry. No one can do everything. Give room for failures. People must be trusted with responsibilities under supervision. They must be allowed to do important things. This will multiply the number of capable Pastors in the ministry, this will reduce the number of unengaged Pastors and will ultimately boost our collective Church planting and Church growth efforts.
MAXIMIZED SUNDAY USAGE:
The option of using Sunday to the fullest can be effective because of the following reasons: — Traditionally, many Christians especially in Africa, have dedicated Sunday to both resting and going to Church.— Our contemporary Church members living and working in big towns and cities are increasingly finding it difficult to attend weekly Church programmes and activities except on Sundays because of the challenge of work and traffic. We are to consider the option of making maximum use of Sunday for Service, Counseling, Discipleship, Visitation, Bible Study, etc.
SMALLER SUB-DIVISIONS OR CELL GROUPS:
Smaller sub-divisions within the Church allow for better Pastoral care and Koinonia consequently leading to Church growth. Questions that cannot be asked or well responded to in a large Sunday service could be accommodated in the small groups. The small groups become the family units or cell units to which Church members belong. Breaking the Church into smaller divisions will ensure that every member can receive adequate Pastoral care. Our people want to feel important, they want to feel necessary, they want to feel loved and they don’t want to be lost in the crowd. This will be adequately addressed in smaller groups.
CARE, AGAPE LOVE AND HOSPITALITY FOR ALL CHURCH MEMBERS AND VISITORS:
History has shown that the population of the world has increased because people are being kept alive and not because more people are being born. The Church must learn from the early believers. The book of Acts 4: 32-35 makes it clear that: ‘’All believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles ’feet and it was distributed to anyone as he had need’’. If we can follow this apostles’ model, our Churches will grow and both the old and new members including new converts and seekers will be maintained and sustained.
Human beings are so varied. We must never forget that we deal with large number of people with different needs. We are compelled by the love of God through Jesus Christ to make variety available if we don’t want to lose those for whom our structure has nothing to offer. Some of the services may be formal whilst others will be relaxed depending on our target. The worship atmosphere must appeal to those who are to attend the service. The Church is to structure her services to cater for the needs of her targets such as: the youth, the children, the appropriate language spoken and understood by the specific target, etc. The principle of multiple services will address this need. Each of the services will be different in order to cater for the needs of our targets. May God bless our Churches as we provide variety for more people in Jesus Name, Amen.
DYNAMISM, DIDACTISM AND DRAMATISM IN CHURCH SERVICES:
Our worship services are to be dynamic, didactic and dramatic to reach, attract and positively impact our contemporary audience for the Master. The goals of each service is to be different, our time management must be superb, the meeting place must be contemporarily inviting, the music must be contemporarily relevant in spiritual content, mode of presentation, lyrics, melody , style and syntax while all worship leaders must appear modestly in contemporary smart and presentable ways. In addition, the Church must prioritize making alter calls at every service to give our congregation and visitors the opportunity to respond to God’s message, call, touch and invitation in positive ways. A friendly atmosphere for post worship service time interaction, fellowship, greetings, etc. is to be created, motivated and encouraged to ensure that our members can mingle with one another as members of the same family of God through Jesus Christ. The Pastor is to take the lead in doing this. A good and true shepherd is not to run off after Church service. The shepherd’s place is in the field amongst the sheep. He is to care for them, play with them, smell them, clean them, provide for them, know their challenges, empathize with them and protect them at all cost. This is the call we have received from the Master. May God help us to be faithfully obedient to the call, Amen.
MAKING GOOD USE OF CONTEMPORARY TECHNOLOGY AND RESEARCH:
We must adequately make use of Information and Computer Technology (ICT), Survey, Surveillance and other contemporary relevant tools and techniques that will appeal to, be acceptable to and will attractively invite our contemporary audience. We must have functional departments for accurate data and statistics, pastoral care and monitoring, telephone and mail addresses of our members and visitation roster to ensure that the team will visit every Church family member at least once every month, or give a call to know how they are doing. In addition, the audio-visual system of the Church must be faultless to avoid hiccups during service and programme time of the Church. Furthermore, the Church must have regular evaluation periods to assess and reassess every Church department beginning with the pastoral team for better and more effective service.
TARGETED DISCIPLESHIP TO RAISE NEW LEADERS AND WORKERS:
The contemporary Church leadership is to follow the model of Jesus Christ by spending quality time in discipling and raising selected few people in the Church for discipleship, mentoring and leadership development. This will provide human resources for Church growth.
CONTINUOUS EDUCATION FOR MINISTERS:
For a minister to remain relevant in our contemporary world there is the need for continuous learning and education. Pastors should develop themselves educationally. Paul the apostle was a reader of books and parchments. He deemed his books so important that he asked Timothy to bring them to him —–‘’When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments’’ [2 Tim 4:13). People like Paul and Daniel succeeded in ministry because they continually updated themselves through reading of books. Contemporary ministers should be knowledgeable in familiar topics such as: administration, medicine, law, history, politics, geography, accounting, information and computer technology, music, management to be able to meet the needs of the congregation and to be able to guide and counsel the members appropriately under God’s leadership and guidance.
HOLY SPIRIT’S POWER IN MINISTRY AND EVANGELISM:
This must not be downplayed. The Holy Spirit’s power to heal, deliver and wrought miracles must not be taken out of our Scriptural message to our Congregation. Our members are to be taught and discipled on how to discover their spiritual gifts and on how to make use of the gifts to bring glory to God. The Holy Spirit wants to manifest Himself and bless the people of God. It is therefore very important for the minister to pray for the congregation and allow God to use him or her to minister God’s power to them.
PRIORITIZING PRAYER MINISTRY:
There is no other way to make any progress in ministry than to depend on God through fervent prayers. The Bible says in Colossians 4:2 that Epaphras was always laboring in prayer. Prayer is imperative for effective Church growth. All Church members are to be motivated to be part of intensive prayer programmes of the Church. The leadership is to also organize prayer seminars, lectures, training and programs to continually make the spirits fire to glow continually. There is no other example than that which has been set by Jesus. Peter said in Acts 6:4 that he wanted to give himself to prayer and the Word. We must do likewise.
ACTIVELY INVOLVING LAY PEOPLE IN MINISTRY:
Discipled Lay people or discipled voluntary Church workers are great assets to ministry. This will even help the Church to save some cost because these people will render voluntary services. It will also give every member the assurance that everyone is important in God’s ministry. Some bivocational Pastors can also serve voluntarily without collecting a dime from the Church. Making use of unpaid people is a key to peaceful and stable Church environment.
My dear people of God, I believe that if the aforementioned steps are followed, our Churches will be restructured for effective Church growth, our ministries be effective and God will surely use us to ensure that the Kingdom of this world becomes that of our God through Jesus Christ our Lord in the shortest practicable time. May God depend on us all. Amen.
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