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Focus on America

Healthy churches

Healthy babies grow, and so do healthy churches.

Babies grow because they have proper care and nutrition, not because their parents talk constantly about growth. Whether it’s a baby or a church, words alone are not a substitute for doing the right thing at the right time.

Growth in a church that takes place too rapidly without the proper support system can actually be a negative.

When I began my pastoral ministry, the church averaged less than 100 in attendance on Sunday morning. My major goal was church growth — not spiritual or foundational, but numeric. I wanted a full house, no matter what.

An evangelist left me the names and addresses of 300 people who visited our church and were not involved in any other church. What a gold mine! But we were totally unprepared to disciple and integrate new people who had little or no Assemblies of God background, much less a Christian background. We did not get one person from that crusade.

At first, we blamed the evangelist. Then we realized we were the problem. He had done his job; we had not done ours. It took months to bring the church around to any degree of interest in reaching the lost and seeing new people in our congregation. The negative response was based on the fact that we had new people once, but we could not hold them. I determined that would never happen again.

We prepared for growth, a long and difficult task, and it was worth it. We never had 300 prospects at one time again, but when a baby was born into the Kingdom who was a part of our church family, we were ready. Much to my surprise, the numbers automatically came. Numbers are important, but they are like a thermometer — a thermometer lets you know if there is any fire in the furnace, but it does not put the fire there.

Let’s concentrate on church health rather than numbers. Let’s use numbers as a check-up tool rather than a goal. People are looking for healthy churches. Let’s make sure they can find one.

— Charles Hackett

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