30 Aug

Church growth is becoming one of the cutting edge of studies in these end times. Many Christians, who are committed to the fulfillment of the Great Commission are showing tremendous interest in the growth of their churches. Many previous non-Pentecostal and spiritual churches are changing to full gospel and Pentecostal churches. God is working mightily in these end times. However, many pastors and ministers who have shown keen interest in church growth are yet to see the much desired growth in their respective churches. They are confused and at a loss on how to lead their church to growth. They moan and lament the conditions of their churches. And this is largely so because of the following points that I am going to enumerate.

1. Negative Passions
Every church is being ruled by one passion or the other. There is no single church that does not possess a ruling, consummate passion. These passions determined the growth or non-growth of the church. Negative passions that hinders growth are traditionalism, do doctrinal correctness, maintenance, Providence, Messiah status, vocation/profession, Competition, Ignorance and self satisfaction.

2. Patriarchs And Matriarchs Ruling
In churches where the elders, deacons and influential members have taken over leadership from the pastor, growth will be a mirage. When the position of the pastor is undermined and is not given the free hand to lead the church, growth cannot come. When the lay leaders have taken over the mantle of leadership from the pastor, then bye-bye to church growth. When you pastor a family church or a church founded by woman growth will be difficult.

3. Myths About Church Growth
Myths are farce, lies and half-truths. There are many of these myths that are flying about or have been deeply ingrained in many pastors sub-consciousness and thereby effectively hinders the growth of their
churches. Some of these myths are:
Is okay not to grow. The small church is the perfect will of God
God has called us to be faithful, not successful
Growth will happen without cause or effort by the church
Growth is akin to compromise
Quality is more important than quantity
Faithful remnant/negative piety
The church will grow when God wants it to
The church is for the saints only
Vision is not really important
Dedication is all we need.

4. Pastor's Personal Life

The personal life of the pastor has much to do with the growth of the church. Even though many think otherwise, yet, the pastor's personal life is like a smoke that cannot be hidden in a church. It goes a long way to determine the spiritual thermometer of the church.

A healthy spiritual life consisting of holiness, integrity; consistent obedience, prayerfulness and watch fullness will go a long way to influence the church 'in positive ways. Pastors that fail to embark on a
Journey of personal development and improvement, studying, leaning, being current and informed will fail to gain marketability. They will become obsolete and backward, unable to minister effectively to this
present generation.

5. Ignorance
Ignorance is the bane of church growth. Many well-meaning pastors are averse to training or learning regarding the growth of the church. They believe that the Holy Spirit will do everything. However, studies of growing churches have shown that their pastors are people who desires and promote continuous learning. They take course in church growth, attend seminars, conferences, not minding the cost and their churches reflect their efforts.

6. Clear-cut vision
When the church vision is too vague, there can be no growth. Vision of what God wants the church to do, who to reach and area to focus on must be clearly imbibed. God has a vision for every church and until the church is clear, convinced and pursuing the vision, great growth cannot be experienced.

7. Statement of Faith
Goals are the statement of faith regarding the growth of the church. Without courage to set achievable and concrete goals, the growth of the church will be put in abeyance. Goal setting is the act of believing God for the impossible. Goals must be set for numerical, material, physical and spiritual growth of the church.

8. Refusal to change

Change must come before growth. Pragmatic decisions must be made regarding our methods, systems, strategies and programmes. Institutionalism is one of the greatest enemies of church growth.

9. Oppression of workers
When the workers are blamed, condemned and castigated, but not trained and motivated the church will not grow. Instituting training that will serve to mobilize, motivate joint effort for the growth of the
church is one fact we cannot ignore any longer. In churches where there is no purposeful trainings, the people will be non-challant, non-committal, casual, wayward and unserious.

10. Strong Prayer Foundation
Growth cannot really come without strong prayer base in the church. The foundation of prayer must be strongly laid, else, growth will remain a mirage. Serious prayer is what will bring the mighty presence of God into the church for supernatural growth. Powerful and prevailing prayers are what will nullify and thwart all demonic activities that they may want to hinder growth.

11. Demonic Activities
In churches where there is low presence of the Holy Spirit. There will be high presence of demons. Demonic activities through curse, sin, stronghold poverty serve to effectively hinder the growth of the church. Church growth cannot really come without defeating demonic deities in the community and neighbourhood.

Dr Francis Bola-Akin

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