4 Tires of Growing A Church
If you feel stuck, don’t know where to start, are frustrated, or just curious with how to help your church grow, this post is for you.
The following is the 4 Tires of Growing A Church. It’s found in the book of Acts. I’m not mechanical…at all. I barely know how to change the windshield wipers. Seriously, I have to watch a YouTube video almost every time. What I do know about cars is that if one tire is flat the entire vehicle is impacted. I believe it’s the same way with the local church.
A lot of churches are good at one or maybe two of the four tires, but in order to see long lasting milage and numerical growth a church has to make sure there is air in all four tires. I find the four tires in the book of Acts.
The book of Acts is one of my favorites in the New Testament. I believe it’s descriptive and not prescriptive for how we are to do church. That is I believe it describes what the early church leaders did and we can learn from them and adapt it to our modern context. There are some things in the book of Acts that we would struggle to duplicate today. For example, a couple of people dropped dead because they lied. If this still happened today it would make church discipline so much easier. I kid, I kid.
I know you are busy so I’ll quickly give the four tires. Below that I’ll go into more detail.
4 Tires of A Growing Church
If you visit a church you can quickly tell which of the 4 tires they focus on. There are some churches that focus on discipleship and they tend to be smaller in size. There are some that focus on strategy and they tend to be full of head knowledge, but at times miss connecting with the heart. There are churches that focus on Evangelism and they tend to be larger in size, but if they are not careful they will draw a crowd, but not make disciples. It takes a balance of all four tires.
Evangelism is all over the book of Acts. From Peter addressing the crowds at Pentecost and seeing 3,000 people become Christians, to Philip teleporting like an X-Men to evangelize, to Paul’s missionary journeys it’s difficult to escape evangelism. It’s all over the book of Acts. The one difference between the book of Acts and us today is that often when we evangelize it’s for a specific church. I believe we should invest in those that are unchurched and invite them to the church we serve. At the same time we need to remember that the goal is not to grow our church, but the Kingdom of God. Evangelism.
It’s tough to find a dynamic, growing church, that doesn’t have a heart for evangelism. For those that have a passion for discipleship it can be easy to neglect Evangelism. If you haven’t read it, Deep and Wide by Andy Stanley is a great book that helps churches balance evangelism with strategy.
In some church circles strategy is spoken about like it’s unspiritual. Tell that to the book of Acts. The early church grew fast because their passion for evangelism, but with more people comes more problems. By Acts 6 we see the first signs of trouble in how the church functions. The answer is a strategy. The disciples pick 7 men to help serve. Even before this we see a strategy. It’s not a good one, but it’s a strategy. Because of the vacant seat left by Judas we see the disciples execute a strategy to pick new disciples. It was casting lots and it seems really unspiritual and silly, but sometimes strategies are like that. A strategy is simply a plan. If you want to reach more people you have to look at your strategies. If you want to help people grow you have to look at your strategies. Church is more than an hour on Sunday. It’s helping people connect to God and others and that takes a strategy. For help discovering a strategy I highly recommend “When Your Church Feels Stuck” by Chris Sonksen.
In Acts 2 we read about 3,000 people joining the church. We do not have a lot of info as to what they did, but near the end we get a little glimpse. “They devoted themselves to the apostles teaching…” Acts 2:42. We know through Paul’s writings to churches that role of pastors is to equip the saints for the work of ministry. There is a part of this that I believe we often miss.
Part of equipping people is sending them out to do the work of ministry. We see this with the first deacons, but we also see this with Paul and Barnabas. Discipleship is more than a class. At some point people have to do the work of ministry. That includes being sent out.
The fear is that if we send people out we won’t have all of our needs met. That’s a fear of people without the unlimited resources of a Holy God. God provides what we need, but we often don’t ask because we truly don’t feel the need. As long as we hold onto our people with a tight fist we will be resistant to sending people out. Sending people is a great way to equip and disciple. It’s also a great way to make sure your church doesn’t have a leadership lid. There are only so many places to volunteer and lead. Becoming a sending church opens the door to never have a leadership cap.
A great resource for this is the book “Hero Maker” by Ferguson and Bird.
There are some churches that get this right and they tend to be really small. They have to be small because in order for people’s needs to be met by the pastor there cannot be more than a handful of people. At times care gets in the way of evangelism and growing the church. When that happens the church becomes unbalanced. Care needs to happen for the people, but it cannot be the pastors sole responsibility. Once again we see this in Acts 6. They chose deacons because, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables.” Care has to happen, but it has to happen through the people in the church.
A great book for this is “How to Break Growth Barriers by George & Bird.
The engine to all of this is prayer. Prayer guided the first Christians in everything that they did. God uses these four tires, and He guides us through prayer.
If you don’t know which tire of your church is low on air, start by praying and asking God. If you do know, start by praying and asking God.