Question 11.  What do you believe that it would take for a church in a growing area to get over a plateau of 400 and move on to 500 and beyond?

We must have faith that God can cause growth.  This may not be as easy as it first seems.  We do not cause the church to grow; that is God’s work.  We are only the farmers, the ones who prepare the ground, sow the seed, water the field, and reap the harvest.  That certainly requires work on our part, but it is a much different focus than “growing the church.”  I believe Jesus would tell us to focus on what he commissioned us to do (prepare, plant, water, and reap), and let him worry about the growth.  This is probably not the “corporate” answer, but I believe it’s biblical and truthful.  The farmer who frets about whether or not the seed will grow, and wants to “run out to the field” and dig up the plant to see if it’s growing, is showing a remarkable lack of faith!   

We must pray without ceasing, and open our eyes to the harvest around us.  Jesus told his disciples to look around; the fields were ripe for harvest.  I believe that’s truer today than it has been for the past 50 years.  He said, “Ask the Lord of the harvest to send workers into his harvest.”  We need to pray that God would prepare and send harvesters into the field right here in Clear Lake.  We need to equip ourselves and others with the tools to harvest a field that is teeming with people who are searching for answers to spiritual questions. 

We must use our gifts to build up the body of Christ.  Each person must be doing their part within the body, and the leaders must give them the equipment to do the ministry to which they are called.  When the body is healthy, and members are doing what they are called to do, the body moves forward to impact the community, just as Christ did when he was in his physical body.  We are now the physical body of Christ, and, just like him, we should be about the business of telling people that the Kingdom of God is at hand. 

Every disciple must be serious about identifying people who can relate to them and the story of their journey to faith, and share that story openly.  There is no sermon more powerful than the story of one person whose life was impacted by Jesus Christ.  We must each develop our story, and initiate relationships with people who may benefit from our story. 

Maturing disciples need to take seriously their responsibility to become shepherds and mentors to newer followers.  If new followers look only to the Sr. Minister or another staff person to shepherd and mentor them, the church will never grow beyond what the staff can manage.  This is why many churches never grow beyond 150.  I believe small groups are critical to this process.   Whether these groups are formal or informal, the church needs to recognize and support them.  One church I know of in Florida actually ordained these mentors as pastors, enabling them to visit hospitals as a pastor, perform marriages, etc.  The staff and elders mentored these small group pastors, who, in turn, mentored and ministered to others.  Regardless of how it’s done, it’s critically important to raise up capable, spiritual leaders who can provide shepherding to smaller groups within the church, freeing the staff and elders to focus on the broader work of reaching the city for the Kingdom.