As a part of my summer reading, I have enjoyed 8 Virtues of Rapidly Growing Churches. With our focus on the WIG – the Wildly Important Goal of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world – the words leaped off the page: “Rapidly growing churches are singularly, relentlessly, and unapologetically evangelical. They see everything through the lens of inviting people to follow Jesus. . . . good churches are stretched so thin doing one hundred good ministries that it is easy to see evangelism as just another ministry.” (Matt Miofsky & Jason Byassee, Virtues of Rapidly Growing Churches, pp. 42, 43)
I have mentioned 8 Virtues of Rapidly Growing Churches a couple of times in previous blogs. It is written by Matt Miofsky, founding lead pastor of The Gathering, a multisite United Methodist congregation in St. Louis and Jason Byassee, professor of Homiletics and biblical Hermeneutics at Vancouver School of Theology. A part of what makes this so interesting is that Matt is a self-avowed “progressive evangelical.” He puts the two together calling all Methodists to embrace our heritage in a new and more faithful way.
Jason goes on to comment about his own pastor and the reasons he is a Methodist by saying, “I love Methodism – we’re a revivalist branch of the Catholic tradition that’s passionate about social justice.” (Virtues of Rapidly Growing Churches, p. 47) Later, in the fourth chapter entitled “Virtue #4 /Rapidly Growing Church Exist to Reach the Next Person”, they note: “Rapidly growing churches approach evangelism differently. It isn’t a side activity deployed as a means of counteracting natural decline. Instead, it is relentlessly pursued as a value every day in every aspect of the ministry.” Rather pointedly they add: “Methodism was born as a revivalist sect. the question is – if we’re not reviving anybody, what do we exist for? The answer is we won’t for long. And we shouldn’t.” (Virtues of Rapidly Growing Churches, p. 51)
Those are strong words. They are also profoundly true whether we like it or not. Our WIG is a reflection of the gospel, anchored as has been often stated in the commission of the resurrected Christ found in the closing paragraph of Matthew’s gospel (Matthew 28:16-20). Obedience to this commission by the risen Lord drives ministry and mission, outreach and service, love and justice! 8 Virtues of Rapidly Growing Churches is worth your reading.
Another WIG Milestone to Celebrate
And now for some great news about the Central Texas Conference in the midst of a time of tumult across the church. We have recorded eworship attendance growth for 17 months in a row!!
Jeff Roper reports a few of the highlights:
- Overall worship attendance grew 2% while churches which have received New Faith Community grants grew 5%.
- North and West Districts have already hit their worship attendance goal for 2019!
- We now have 136 churches growing, or almost 50% of our churches. That will be a big milestone when we have more churches growing than declining.
- At the halfway mark for the year, Professions of Faith are at 58% of our goal!!
- The Central District is leading the way with 46% increase in Professions.
This is truly outstanding and a real reason to celebrate. As previously shared, it also represents an increase in mission activity for the hungry, hurting and homeless as well as growth in intentional faith development. (Remember Clifton Howard’s “An intentional consequence of the WIG!”)
What else is on the reading list?
Oh, about summer reading, some of my other reading projects are:
- The Landscape of Faith by Alister McGrath
- Preaching: Communicating Faith in a Skeptical Age by Timothy Keller
- Upheaval: Turning Points for Nations in Crisis by Jared Diamond
- Radical Inclusion: What the Post 9/11 World Should Have taught us about Leadership by Ori Brafman and Martin Dempsey
- Plus a lot of fun Science Fiction