Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Nurture or Growth?

The question keeps coming up, at least in my mind, should our focus be on nurturing or growing. Should evangelism and outreach be our focus, or should we spend most of our taking care of our faithful attendees, the people who are already in the pews? Is our focus inwardly or outwardly directed? The two questions have to be asked in tandem: ‘where are we?’ and ‘where should we be?

And of course, there’s no easy answer, we have to do some of each; so the real question is: what’s the right mix? With the congregation that we have here, there’s probably a little more nurturing going on than at a many other churches along the Wasatch Front. The demographic breakdown of our church family means that there is a need for some things that a church filled with younger people might not need as much of. The fact that we are an older group also means that there are some things that we can’t do as well as we used to, and most of us, when it comes down to it, aren’t interested in going on a rafting trip through the Grand Canyon and shooting the rapids along the way.

Sometimes when I read blogs and books written by the pastors of mega churches, I think how fun it would be to have the multiple services, the multi-site churches, the big staff, the 50-100 first time decisions each week, the quarterly baptism ceremonies with several hundred people getting baptized in a river or lake. And then I realize that I would miss the contact and the friendships with the members of a smaller group. It’s nice to know everybody’s name, to know what people do or did for a living, to know who to call on when something out of the ordinary needs to happen.
But again, it’s important to have the right mix. If we spend all our time nurturing, we’ll be fine until there is no one left to nurture. If we focus totally on growth, those who aren’t getting their needs met tend to leave, and that often happens before the growth occurs.

And even the idea of growth tends to be misinterpreted. We want to grow the kingdom, and hope that along the way, we grow the local church; it’s just that not every church is the perfect match for everyone who wants to connect with a church. God is not going to bless full throttle attempts to fill up the pews downstairs and in the balcony, there has to be something more. I believe He will bless our attempts to grow the kingdom, and one of the ways those blessings will be made manifest is that we will see more people attending the weekly services.

We’re all a part of this together, the pastor, the board, or one or two individuals can’t do it all, so put on your thinking caps and ask yourself three questions:

1) What is our current focus as far as nurturing and growth?
2) What should that mix be?
3) What can you as an individual do to help us as a church arrive at that perfect mix?

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