If you haven’t gone through Gary North’s Critical Mass articles, you really, really should.
From Part 1, North gets to the heart of the problem:
The problem that the Reconstructionist faces is this: because ideas are what motivate him, and so few Christians are motivated by ideas, he is almost always perceived as a loner. He may be perceived as a peculiar person, a utopian person, obsessed person, or some similar pejorative term. This makes it even more difficult for the individual to locate people of similar persuasion.
I will be dealing with this critical problem of the critical mass in the next few issues of Christian Reconstruction.
The point of Christian Reconstruction is not to remain a small and isolated group of superpure theology irrelevant-types, but to gain and build the Kingdom of God to cover the earth. The keys to do this is what North covers in his Critical Mass series: to get the number of Christian Reconstruction believers large enough to begin to reshape the church, and then the world.
I have already covered some of the Critical Mass contact: I plan to cover the rest in this post.
One Man, One Vote
Church elders should be meat eaters, yet we all know of milk drinkers who have wound up as elders. There are even bottle-fed elders whose wailing can sometimes be silenced with pacifiers. How do they get elected? As representatives of milk drinkers who recognize their own.
The problem that every congregation faces is that the milk drinkers always outnumber meat eaters. Yet in most Protestant congregations – and all independent congregations – the milk drinkers have the controlling votes. Churches give the vote to every baptized adult member. Some Presbyterian churches even give the vote to children who are eligible for communion. There is no acceptance of two-tiered church membership: communing members and voting members. There is no church that limits the vote to tithers. If only the tithers could vote, meat eaters would be more likely to be in control.
The men who pay the bills should have the final say.
The structure of authority in the modern church is socialistic. The Protestant church provided the operational model for socialism’s graduated income tax. Everyone votes, and those who do not tithe have more votes than those who do tithe. The church set the standard for politics. The Protestant church adopted democratic socialism as a government ideal long before the modern State did.
Time to get the meat-eaters in charge! Unless you actually like the insipid, powerless churches who have created the current culture by their spinelessness….
Well, perhaps that’s going too far: snakes have spines, after all.
Perhaps that should be rewritten into:
“Unless you actually like the insipid, powerless churches who have created the current culture by their belly-crawling behaviour before powerful pagans, their preference for meekness before secular authority, instead of being meek before God.
A God who, among other things, would demand that they stand up and fight for what’s right… and pay the price for putting His will above that of wealthy and powerful men.”
A lot of pastors talk revival; I have yet to meet one whose church is even remotely prepared for it. How about a really big revival, with a ten-fold increase of every congregation in three months? Single mothers by the hundreds, welfare clients by the dozens, homeless drug addicts trying to get off heroin but not succeeding, and every one of them asking for help, every one in need of counseling. Sorry; this is not what the revivalists have in mind. What the modern church has in mind is this: a million more in ’94, and every one a tither! But this is not how great revivals work.
The sad fact is: talk about the need for a great revival is either bogus or pathetically naive. It is the equivalent of the socialist’s quest for something for nothing or the child’s quest for a diet of cake and ice cream. The church does not want mass revival. The church wants the status quo with controlled growth.
The church wants milk.
Meanwhile, some six billion souls are now in this world, most of them under age 25, and most of them in need of salvation. We have about 50 years to bring in this harvest. If we fail, hell will begin to fill up as never before.
All that Satan has to do to reap this enormous harvest of souls is to maintain the status quo. He has the modern church rooting for this. Satan’s task is essentially passive. He would prefer zero growth for the church, but he is surely willing to settle for controlled growth. Controlled growth for the church means historically unprecedented compound growth for Satan. If a huge revival does not come, Satan will howl in derisive glee at God: “They were fruitful and multiplied as never before, but I reaped the harvest!”
Let’s emphasize this:
Controlled growth for the church means historically unprecedented compound growth for Satan. If a huge revival does not come, Satan will howl in derisive glee at God: “They were fruitful and multiplied as never before, but I reaped the harvest!”
There just isn’t any time for controlled growth. We need wild, sprawling, uncontrolled growth, and a church that has enough spiritually mature meat-eaters to handle it.
God knows that the modern church’s prayers for revival — and how often have you heard one? — are the prayers of children: ice cream and cake prayers. If God honors such prayers, He will blow the circuits of the modern church: the ultimate overload. But if He ignores such prayers, the blood of billions is on our hands.
We all know what the denominations have chosen – the safe and sure route, the way that doesn’t disturb their settled routine, the plan that hands Satan the harvest.
Christians who actually want to redeem the world and save the souls of billions, on the other hand, had better start restructuring their lives and their churches to handle a massive local revival.
“The Bible has the answers for every problem.” How often have you heard smiley-face Christians chant that fundamentalist mantra to you? But repeating this mantra has become a substitute for doing the hard exegetical work of searching the Scriptures for answers to difficult questions. The same smiley-faced person, when asked to provide one or two specific answers for modern social problems, has two other mantras in reserve: (1) “We’re under grace, not law”; (2) “The Bible isn’t a textbook for [the problem].”
Evangelical Christians have survived on a diet of milk for so long that they are suffering from lactose poisoning.
The need of the hour is a solution to the milk consumption problem. Until churches find a way to overcome the judicial dominance of milk drinkers, they will remain institutionally unprepared for the equivalent of nuclear fusion: where the critical mass of fissionable material produces an even greater explosion.
Limiting the franchise of the Church to baptized members who tithe would be a great way to start ditching the baby fat, and getting the spiritual muscle, God expects.
What everyone formally agrees on is that the church must meet the needs of everyone. What creates the problem is the definition of church: local congregation or international organization? That the international church must seek to meet the needs of every tribe and tongue does not mean that every congregation should seek to do this. The division of labor in the institutional church is cross-congregational, not intra-congregational.
The church, it is said, is the most segregated institution in America. This is true, but only if we are speaking of the local congregation. The church is the most integrated institution on earth when considered as the body of believers. Its only rival in this regard is Islam. Each local congregation is segregated. This is the international church’s crucial institutional advantage over all of its rivals.
The advertiser knows that any advertising campaign that is aimed at everyone will fail. The ad cannot produce in a large number of individuals sufficient motivation for them to buy the product or service. To motivate individuals, the ad must offer benefits to specific users. The narrower the market, the stronger the appeal. The ad should be designed to meet the desires of people who are highly motivated, but only with regard to a unique set of solutions. (…)
The uniqueness of the gospel is that it offers an individually applicable solution – eternal life – to a universally shared problem: original sin. But to persuade an individual of the truth of the gospel, the presentation of the message must be tailored to his specific situation. The three-year-old is not ready to respond to the Epistle to the Romans.
Who Is Your Audience?
Who is your church’s audience? This will be a tiny subsection, highly segregated, of the population of your town, your state, your nation, and the world.
Within a congregation there are subsets, e.g., infants, toddlers, teenagers, married adults, single adults, and the elderly. At what time in the service are the needs of each subset of your audience met? To find out, examine the liturgy.
Here is the problem: no liturgy can meet the unique needs of all subsets in one hour. It can meet the general needs, but this leaves most needs unmet. Generally, the liturgy meets the needs of those who pay the bills. Money talks. Examine the liturgy to see who is buying.
One Lord, One Confession, Many Liturgies.
One Universal Church, One Divine Law, Many congregations – independent, or (better yet) under a Protestant bishop (a far better plan than the megachurch structure).
Liturgy will become a unifying factor as narrowcasting spreads. McDonald’s shows that there is a market for general tastes. But no one over age six wants to eat every meal at McDonald’s. Similarly with liturgy: for a congregation or denomination to attract and keep large numbers of people, it will have to adjust. Local worship will have to become diversified. This means that worship will have to become much longer and more detailed. But most middle-class Americans will not accept long worship services. Long Greek Orthodox services and long inner city music services will not soon spread to the middle-class suburbs.
Within a congregation, there are varying needs and varying abilities to sit through a service. These specific needs cannot be met in one hour. The solution is to redefine what constitutes total worship: from one service to one day.
Worship begins for a few at a morning prayer meeting. Attendees tend to be older. They are not parents of young children. They can get out the door at 6:30 in the morning. This meeting is in preparation for the evangelistic services of the two morning meetings.
After morning prayer comes the first morning worship service, aimed more at the older, mature, traditional members. The morning prayer people attend early morning worship. The rule is: no guitars, no overhead projector ditties, and well-worn hymnals. This service should last at least one hour.
Then comes Sunday school.
After Sunday school comes late-morning worship. The liturgy here depends on the evangelism strategy for a targeted audience. The walking wounded must be kept awake. The liturgical lowest common denominator drops lower. Weekly communion is not practical as the congregation grows large. The evening service is for the hard core. It should emphasize theological training and the Lord’s Supper.
Set it up right, and you can get a proper conveyer belt, bringing in milk drinkers and issuing out meat-eaters, to further expand the Kingdom of God on this world.
The worship service is defined broadly. It meets the specific liturgical needs of a broad sweep of members, but not in one session. For the spiritually mature and the leadership, worship begins at morning prayer and ends with evening communion.
Structure and Content
What should structure the form of worship? The five-point covenant model. Liturgically, worship is divided into five sections. First, a confession of faith, such as the Apostles Creed, declaring that a transcendent God lived among us. Second, public acknowledgment of subservience to this God; the Lord’s Prayer would be appropriate here. Third, a reading of the law: the Ten Commandments. Fourth, sanctions: the sacraments. Fifth, a call to go forth to extend the kingdom of God.
Let’s get it done!
The language of thousand generations was invoked by God for the sake of comparison with the generations of covenant-breakers:
Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for l the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments (Ex. 20:4-6).
The word thousands is here contrasted with third and fourth: number vs. number. Now we are up to 80,000 years, minimum. I do not think this is literal language; neither does any dispensationalist. Then what kind of language is it? Hyperbolic? Rhetorical? Symbolic?
It is covenantal language. it denotes law and promise. It refers to the huge blessings God has in store for covenant-keepers compared with short-term blessings and long-term defeat for covenant breakers, beginning no later than a few generations. God “repayeth them that hate him to their face, to destroy them: he will not be slack to him that hateth him, he will repay him to his face” (Deut. 7:10).
When God speaks of the stars of heaven and the sand of the sea, He is speaking of a comprehensive triumph, just as when He speaks of a thousand generations. The sky is filled with stars. This does not imply that God’s enemies will have ten skies filled with stars for each sky of Abraham’s heirs, or ten seas of sand compared to Abraham’s one. It implies the opposite: Abraham’s heirs win, while their enemies lose. Who are the heirs of Abraham today? Christians: sons of the promise, sons of faith. (Rom. 4:12-13; Gal. 4:6; Gal. 3:6-7, 14).
Christians just don’t believe that Christ has gained the victory.
It makes me wonder if today’s Western Christian actually has any faith in God at all. Does such a defeated people really understand that Christ has crushed the head of the snake, that He has actually risen from the dead, that He really sits at the right hand of God, as the Father brings all His enemies under His feet?
It looks as if they are mouthing Christian words, but behaving as if Satan actually rules the world: that evil will always increase, and good always decrease.
Don’t they even recognize that evil is naturally self-destructive, naturally sterile, naturally dark and ignorant, naturally impoverished, short-sighted, and incompetent?
This sort of comprehensive victory has eluded Christians so far. I am not speaking here of literal generations and literal skies full of stars. I am speaking of the covenantal reality that undergirds such symbolic language. Christians today have advanced only marginally beyond what Abraham had accomplished in Genesis 15, despite the definitive legal advance due to Christ’s ascension to the right hand of God. At least Abraham had just won a great victory over Chedorlaomer (Gen. 14) when God gave him the promise. When has the Church won a comparable victory? Not recently, surely.
Far too many Christians crying out Retreat, Retreat! in direct contradiction of Christ’s command to advance, and topple the enemy’s gate.
Abraham had a multi-generational view of the future. Modem Christians do not. Moses had a view consistent with Abraham’s. Modern Christians do not share Moses’ outlook. Moses knew that God’s people would conquer Canaan even though he would not enter the land. In contrast, God’s people today are sure that Canaan has already conquered Christendom, and all traces of the Church would be stamped out soon were it not for (1) the imminent Rapture or (2) the imminent parousia. Even to speak favorably regarding the ideal of Christendom, let alone its future inevitable victory, brings down cries of outrage from amillennialists – “Constantinianism!” “theocratic tyranny!” – as well as from dispensationalists: “New Age optimism!”
Some Christians just want to be spat upon by their repulsive, explicitly anti-Christian enemies.
I am not one of them. And you should shouldn’t be, either.
We should be meek before God, rather than before those who hate God.
Moreover: It is God’s Law that should – and will! – triumph, not some morally and economically bankrupt band of certified incompetents.
Abraham expected growth. Today’s Christians expect contraction. Yes, we are told, there will continue to be successful missions efforts, but this legacy will fill, at best, only one small segment of the stars of the sky – Pisces, perhaps. When God promised Abraham heirs like the stars of the sky, he must have meant the stars of the sky on two or three evenings. What God apparently did not reveal to Abraham was that on all the other evenings, the stars of the sky would be Satan’s.
Funny thing, though: when the Book of Revelation speaks of the stars of the sky, only a third of them are Satan’s, and they get extinguished. “And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise” (Rev. 8:12). But in the non-literal calculations of dispensationalists and the nonsensical exegesis of amillennialists, the darkened one-third symbolizes victory. And the shining two-thirds symbolizes defeat.
Pessimillennialists argue that the stars refer to angels in the Book of Revelation. indeed, they do. But stars reflect earthly processes. Abraham’s heirs are to be numbered as the stars of heaven. Which stars? God’s or Satan’s? The winning stars or the losing stars?
Eschatology influences the degree of commitment. But the degree of commitment influences eschatology. Those who have a long-run eschatology are willing to commit a little each day on a long-term basis to rolling back the darkness. Those who take a short-term view of the time remaining must make a huge commitment, since there is little time for compound growth to take place. But even this commitment is too large, Christians cannot roll back humanism before, say, the year 2000 (“Rapture!”). They must define away the zones of Christian responsibility, so that a small commitment will be acceptable to God.
“Let’s give the tiniest possible offering to God, so we can
keep our own wallets nice and plump remain safe and secure in our ever-shrinking comfort zones. Challenging the (aging and failing) Secular Authorities and (the disintegrating) Media Mouthpieces is just too much risk! Why waste time expanding the Kingdom of God, when football season calls?
Just like any antiChristian atheist, we are absolutely certain that God’s Kingdom must shrink, and Satan’s Kingdom must grow – in direct contradiction to Biblical teaching, of course. We know this because the Completely Unbiased and Totally Trustworthy Media tells us so, as does the Eternal-Retreat Rapture men.”
Critical Mass – Part 25: Low-Budget Steps to Church Growth
Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I,” send me (Isa. 6:8).
God had a message to send, and Isaiah volunteered. Money was never the issue. Money is also not the main problem for the absence of local church growth. The absence of the Holy Spirit in the life and work of the local church is the number-one inhibiting factor. After that comes the absence of dedicated members: volunteers. Then comes the absence of a systematic program to mobilize the members. i.e., absence of leadership. Only then is the absence of money a problem.
There are several possible reasons for the absence of the Holy Spirit: sin in the life of the local leaders, lack of prayer on the part of the members, an amillennial eschatology that is suspicious of church growth and openly hostile to revival. An ethnic enclave mentality that resists “gentile” visitors, or the Spirit’s present unwillingness to bring salvation to the local church’s prime audience (this sometimes happens on the foreign mission field). Until these reasons are pursued and shown to be irrelevant to the local congregation’s situation, no new program for church growth should be adopted.
If you attend an anti-growth local church, it may be time to transfer your membership. Your efforts to build the local church will be frustrated. But if your congregation is willing to take some simple steps in order to grow, you should stay. Here are same relatively easy and inexpensive steps that could help. Suggest some of them. See how much resistance they meet.
The steps North mentions include:
Church growth should begin with a congregation-wide program of systematic prayer for church growth. Begin this prayer project with a time-table of anywhere from six months to a year. All organizational substitutes for this initiating prayer program must be abandoned. Systematic prayer comes first. Members should be encouraged to volunteer to pray at certain times each day for the souls of specific people or specific blocks in town, checking off on a printed sheet when they prayed and for how long. They should hand in or mail in this sheet weekly. This prayer program must be planned and monitored by the elders. It must be official, formal, and structured.
No half-wit job, please: take this seriously!
I think the data on the sheets should be stored in a computerized data base program. This information is in God’s data base; why not in the local church’s? Only if there is too much resistance to actual records should the reports be abandoned. Military scouts report to headquarters. Why not church members? The idea here is to make this program an organized effort with measurable input and output.
Having begun a program of systematic prayer for church growth, the local congregation must now make plans for a positive answer to prayer. These plans must be systematic.
Get it done; get it done well; get it done often.
Volunteers must be requested from the pulpit, by elders, and any other way that the leadership thinks will work.
Invite Your Neighbor to Dinner
Begin a program that shows families how to invite neighbors to dinner. Our generation has forgotten how to do this, which is why nobody knows the name of the families three doors down the block on both sides. The dinner invitation strategy is part of a multistage invitation plan. The first evening should be for breaking the ice. The prayer before the meal may be the only sign of the religious commitment of the host.
People are important: go see them!
The point is, friends invite friends to church. Every church should organize regular training sessions on how to make new friends.
Greeters can be of two types: those who have invited specific visitors and those who volunteer to have a meal ready for first-time walk-ins. The first type of greeter must do everything that the second type does, but with a targeted family. Let us consider in detail the second kind.
The visitor may be part of the walking wounded, or a newcomer in town, or a church shopper-hopper. In each case, his immediate need is for a sense of belonging. This need is intensely personal. He is probably not walking in the door in search of better theology.
The typical visitor isn’t interested in better theology? GASP!
He is not looking for a more biblical liturgy. He is looking for emotional support in a desert of loneliness. He is looking for an extended family. If your church can offer this, it will prosper. lf it can’t, it probably won’t.
The greeter’s crucial task is to serve as a surrogate friend initially and maybe a real friend later. The way to initiate this is through a shared meal. (Let’s see: Where do we learn this principle?) The greeting family’s wife should be ready to prepare a meal such as chili, stew, or soup. Better yet, the meal should have been prepared before the worship service. If no visitor shows up, the wife can serve the extra portions as leftovers. Families should be ready to eat the same meal two days in a row if no newcomer shows up.
The Yellow Pages Listing
Your church is already paying for this. Your money is almost certainly being wasted. You should run a display ad as large as you can afford. The ad should lead with a statement of your congregation’s unique service in your community, preferably one that no other congregation offers. Problem: if that service is either liturgy or theology, nobody will call. People don’t care about theology and traditional liturgy. Believe me; they really don’t.
Rest assured, you can take North’s word on this. One hundred percent!
Unless your home missions program is self-consciously a program to pick off members of other churches, list a benefit for the non-Christian visitor. Write it in bold face letters, but not all capital letters, which are difficult to read. Try to keep the promise to 17 words or less. Do not list a slogan; offer a benefit that your congregation really can fulfill. It may take several meetings with members to draw up a list of the benefits for joining. Then pick one for the Yellow Pages headline. Here are samples:
We offer service opportunities for dedicated people who are ready to make a difference in [town].
We train young people to become successful: in school and in life.
We help families struggling with financial difficulties to get control of their budgets and their lives.
Forget the Yellow Pages: get it on your webpage.
The Mailing List
The name and address go into a mailing list, even if this list is kept in a card file with 3 by 5 cards. Buy a cheap used computer. If you have almost no funds, buy a used Apple Macintosh SE; don’t pay over $300. It is small, easy to use, and has a built-in screen. Buy three programs: Claris Works, My Advanced Data Base, and My Advanced Mailing List. The last one costs under $50.
This article was written in 1995: there are sure to be low-cost data base programs out there, some built specifically for church use: or just use Excel.
This will get your mailing list started. The program is amazingly powerful. Start tracking the data: name, address, phone. dates contacted, responses, interests, business. children. etc. It is far easier to persuade a caller that your church offers him real benefits than to build up a congregation through cold-calling, door-knocking, and tract-passing.
If the church is worth attending, it must get this message out to those who ought to be attending, in terms that these people will understand and respond to. This requires a coordinated plan. Set numerical targets for these recruiting programs: number of new visitors, number of repeat visits, number of dinner invitations from members to people on their blocks, number of contacts by mail per quarter, number of follow-ups by greeters. All of this should go into the computer. The elders should know how well its projects are working. The members should know that they are part of a team with a plan. A bad plan is better than no plan. A bad plan can be revised.
And there you go: it isn’t the best plan, but it’s a good start.
(Especially when you replace the Yellow Pages – that no one uses anymore – with a well-designed web page, for the interested non-Christian visitor.)
Peter’s first sermon was an uncompromising presentation of the gospel. It produced rapid and spectacular fruit. Some 3,000 people accepted his message. This incident proves that there is no necessary connection between doctrinal truth and shrunken, stagnant congregations.
Nevertheless, there has been an historical connection between the two in the twentieth century. For a local congregation to become known as a defender of strict theological truth is almost automatically to position itself as a permanently tiny congregation. The exceptions to this rule are few.
There are many reasons for this. Let me list only a handful. First, orthodoxy runs counter to everything taught in the public school system. It also runs counter to most of what passes for Christian education. The doctrines of election, postmillennialisrn, and covenant theology are anathema to both humanism and modern pietistic evangelicalism. Second, orthodoxy increases men’s responsibility by increasing men’s knowledge. The comprehensive nature of the Great Commission is a great personal burden compared to the “souls-only” evangelism of Protestant pietism. Most Christians avoid responsibility whenever possible. Who needs it?
People who intend to shape the future, thats who!
Third, orthodoxy is detailed, difficult, and complex. Modern man is not prepared to master detailed statements of faith and catechisms running hundreds of questions. Fourth, those few who are attracted to such detailed confessions tend not to be equally committed to programs of evangelism based on friendship, neighborliness, and personal discipling. They believe, as Warfield said, that the essence of evangelism is logic.
The part that Apologetics has to play in the Christianizing of the world is rather a primary part, and it is a conquering part. It is the distinction of Christianity that it has come into the world clothed with the mission to reason its way to its dominion. Other religions may appeal to the sword, or seek some other way to propagate themselves. Christianity makes its appeal to right reason, and stands out among all religions, therefore as distinctively “the Apologetic religion.” It is solely by reasoning that it has come thus tar on its way to its kingship. And it is solely by reasoning that it will put all its enemies under its feet. (Warfield, “Introduction to Francis R. Beattie’s Apologetics” ; reprinted Selected Shorter Writings of Benjamin B. Warfield-II edited by John E, Meeter [Nutley, New Jersey: Presbyterian & Reformed, 1973). pp. 99-1 00].)
The trouble is, this statement is wrong. Not a little bit wrong, or somewhat wrong, but comprehensively wrong. Christianity puts its enemies under its feet by means of God’s saving grace, which saves the whole man, a totally depraved man, in one definitive act of grace: God’s sovereign imputation of Christ’s comprehensive righteousness to a fallen man who is definitively dead in his trespasses. Everything about man is saved, including his reason. The agency of this salvation may be reason in a limited number of cases, but most people are saved by other means: fear of final judgment, or a personal crisis, or the realization that there is a better life available, or any of a hundred reasons, none of which is grounded on logic.
It’s about saving grace: not logic. Fundamentally speaking, it isn’t even about law, except as a driver that points to our need for the salvation that only the Sinless Christ offers.
What went wrong? Calvinist denominations after 1776 could not supply enough ministers, since their ministers had to learn Latin and graduate from college. In the seven years before the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, the College of New Jersey had sent 75 men into the ministry. Over the next eighteen years, it sent only 39, an average of two men per year. At the same time, the population of the middle and southern states, where Presbyterianism was strongest, rose from 1.75 million in 1783 to 2.75 million in 1790. Two new pastors per year could hardly be expected to keep pace with this population growth, let alone carry the gospel to other regions, especially the Western territories, which were growing even faster. As members moved west or south, older congregations gradually died off. Calvinism died with them.
Oh, how Calvinists love their seminaries – which have no place in the Bible, the words of Christ, or the acts of the Apostles.
But, seminaries do have a place as a top-down command and control tool, and it’s a great way to stifle the power of the Holy Spirit from moving the church forward, out of the controlling grip of any man. Seminaries also has the benefit (in Establishment eyes) of crippling growth wherever it appears.
And so, the power of the Holy Spirit moved from where He isn’t wanted, to where He is wanted.
Waves to the Charismatics and the Pentecostals: imperfect theology, yes, but they do have their hearts open to the Spirit’s leading… and no interest in bogging down the Spirit in tons of man-made rules and regulations, so some intellectual types can feel safe in a bland and predictable facsimile of Divine Reality.
A growing community at some point reaches critical mass. it becomes a magnet for outsiders. The division of labor reaches a point where opportunities multiply faster than the local population does. Without planning, the community begins to grow steadily, then rapidly, usually for no single reason that anyone can put his finger on.
Christian Reconstruction can get on the growing side of the equation.
They can, and they should. Indeed, they MUST, as God Commands It.
The Good Guys must expand and win and rule: the Bad Guys must shrink and fail and serve the Good Guys.
Certainly, with their socialism and their perversions and their hatred of family and children, the Bad Guys are holding up their side of the deal.
When will the Good Guys get going, to where God wants them to be?
Church growth can take place without planning, but this is rare. Those who seek to build a growing church should begin with a plan. This is what I have tried to provide in this series: the outline of a plan. It has the following features:
1. A congregation-wide commitment to growth
2. An organized, congregation-wide prayer program for growth
3. A worship day with specific services devoted to the wants of specific groups
4. A unique service proposition (USP) that the local church offers the community
5. This USP must meet people’s wants, not their spiritually mature needs
6. A program for advertising this USP, beginning with the Yellow Pages
7. Leadership training
8. Church service programs broken down into step-by-step instruction manuals
9. Members’ personal contact programs: neighborhoods, service clubs
10. Church visitor follow-up program
The Motivation for Church Growth
Peter set forth in his sermon in Acts 4 the fundamental motivation for church growth: “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” First, people are perishing. Second, society is ignoring Christ. This must be stopped. Evangelism is the only biblically approved way to stop it.
All other motivations are secondary: denominational expansion, more business contacts, larger Sunday school, upward social mobility, and salary increases. When these motivations replace the first two – personal and social salvation – or when either of these two replaces the other, then the church has compromised her message: the Great Commission, the discipling of the nations. Liberals want to save society without saving souls from the hell they do not believe in. Fundamentalists, pietists, Eastern Orthodox, and Lutherans want to save souls from hell without saving society, the possibility of which they do not believe in. The Great Commission mandates both.
God rightfully demand victory.
Guided by the Victorious Holy Spirit, we should go and get it for Him!
If churches were committed to growth, they would grow. They are committed to growth in the way that small-town America is committed to growth: verbally but not operationally. If McDonald’s Ray Croc had been committed to growth in the way that the twentieth-century church has been committed to growth, there would be a sign above the McDonald brothers’ restaurant in San Bernardino, California: “Over 31 million burgers sold.” Not billion . . . million.
People get what they pay for – not what they want at zero price, but what they actually pay for. If the church is not growing today, this is because Christians are not paying the price required by God to grow His church. The church has grown in times of persecution, mass poverty, hand-copied Bibles, suppression of Bibles by governments, suppression of Bibles by the church, wars, and every other conceivable external restraint. If it is not growing in this time of ease, the fault is not in its members’ lack of physical capital. It is the church’s lack of dedicated human capital.
Western Christian churches are lazy and corrupt failures, content to wallow in their disgrace as Satanic filth drowns and kills the West.
Time to clean out the pulpits.
Bojidar Marinov says, “Every single positive change in history starts with change in our hearts, and change in the pulpit. Which means, concerning the standing occupying army of police, we need to first change our hearts and trust God that maintaining a social order is not the same as having a standing army for terrorizing the population. Then we need to purge the pulpits of any preacher who supports the existence of police, or the existence of any other tyranny. At the very least, do not support with your money pulpits which support tyranny.
Once preaching is changed, the change in the culture will come very quickly.”
And from Blame Your Theology, not the Sodomites:
And it is the theology of the modern church that tipped off the sodomites to the possibility of defeating Christianity without much effort.
First, the modern church openly declares that it won’t involve in politics. This declaration is present everywhere in the theological statements of the modern pulpits in churches and seminaries. It is present in the reductionist statements of churchian celebrities who beat themselves in the chests that they are “only preaching the Gospel and nothing else”; the “gospel,” of course, defined as a few propositions for personal salvation, not as the Gospel of the Kingdom of God which takes over the whole world. It is present in their rejection of the concept of a Christian culture. It is present in their rejection of the Law of God as the only valid standard for justice in the society, thus leaving justice to be defined by secular politicians. It is present in dualistic theories like the “two kingdoms” rhetoric, or dispensationalism, or radical “grace vs. law” dichotomies which cripple Christian efforts in the legislative arena. (…)
Second, the modern church openly declares that it won’t resist the decrees of the political authorities. The theological justification for this is a twisted, dualistic, heretical reading of Romans 13:1-7 and of 1 Pet. 2:13-14 which declares the legitimacy of all political power and all political decrees, and forces the Christian conscience into submission to the state no matter what. (After all, Paul was speaking of the Roman authorities, right?) The declaration is present in the sending of millions of Christian children to the government schools. It is present in the pathetic idolatry and worship of the police state by Christians, and even official church ceremonies of “honoring” the standing army of government oppression called “police.” (…)
So, third, the modern church openly declares that it doesn’t believe in victory for the Gospel in history. Or at least that victory doesn’t really matter, what matters is that we are saved. It is in everything the modern church says, and not only the modern church, but all the conservative news sources and pundits. It is in the defeatist, pessimistic eschatologies of amillennialism and premillennialism. It is in the “exile theology”: the theory that claims that the church is analogical to the Hebrews mourning by the rivers of Babylon. It is in the false theological dictum that the Kingdom of Christ is “here but not yet.” (Of course, eventually, the “not yet” is what’s applied to the culture.) It is in the false humility of applying total depravity to politics but never applying Christ’s redemption to it; because, you know, God is not redeeming civil institutions. It is in the pretended piousness of the call to “live godly lives among a perverted generation,” instead of actively preaching and working of turning a perverted generation into a godly generation. Etc., etc. (…)
OK, back from the need to purge the pulpits, as spelled out by Bojidar Marinov, and back to the incompetence of the Church, as spelled out by Gary North:
The members’ primary motivation for church growth has faded. They do not believe that the Great Commission is operational. Its stated goals supposedly cannot be achieved in history. It is not seen as a guide to action; it is seen as a justification for inaction. “It just isn’t realistic. No use striving to attain the unrealistic.”
As the fear of hell has faded from modern man’s culture and mind, so has evangelism. Even Christians prefer not to hear about it. The only sermon devoted entirely to hell that I have heard in over two decades was at Kennedy’s church. This downplaying of hell began with the ministry of D. L. Moody, who rarely preached on the subject. “Terror never brought a man in yet,” he proclaimed. “I’m saved by grace,” evangelical Christians occasionally proclaim. The crucial question, “Salvation from what?” is no longer asked in polite circles.
Motivation must be followed by dedication. We need both to be successful. The modern church is short on both. Until it regains both, the implementation of plans for church will be sporadic. A few congregations will do things instinctively that lead to growth, but their success will not be repeated systematically. The church was the first successful international franchise operation. It spread across Europe and the New World, where it concentrated its efforts. A civilization followed in the wake of its pioneering efforts. But in our day, the church has fallen on soft times. It has little motivation, little energy, and less vision. Taking the “last days” scenario literally, Christians have regarded the church as a rest home for the elderly. The church resembles a bedridden elderly person with tubes down his nose.
It makes me wonder when God will cut the tubes, push the doddering geezer out of bed, and tell him, “You’re only 35 years old. Walk.”
Get out of the Christian ghetto, and win.