Book Review Church Growth 101 Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

In his 2012 book Church Growth 101: A Church Growth Guidebook for Ministers and Laity, Glenn Mollette offers valuable insights on pastoral leadership, evangelism, church ministry, church development, and other pastoral and church ministry aspects. With extensive reference to biblical text, the book is organised into 15 chapters. This paper offers a chapter by chapter summary of the book. After the summary, implications for the author’s personal life as well as ministry are offered.

The first chapter is about vision. The chapter is based on Proverbs 29:18, which states that “where there is no vision the people perish.” According to Mollette (2012, p.1), “vision begins with calling.” He narrates the encounters of Paul, Moses, and Peter to illustrate how calling is the basis of our vision, which is driven by our intrinsic drive and strength to serve God. Our internal drive is motivated by what we see or hear God doing in our lives and the lives of others. However, Mollette points out that living a vision-oriented Christian life is not an easy endeavour as one may think – it is a journey full of ups and downs, challenges, tribulations, and temptations. In spite of the hardships, vision is vital for the growth of the church. Having vision means we have a passion for living for God. We orient our lives to the service of God. We develop a strong relationship with God at the individual level, which ultimately builds our fellowship with other Christians. This creates a healthy church – an environment where love, forgiveness, help, and inclusiveness abounds.

Chapter 2 focuses on connecting people to God and man. The overarching message of this chapter is that a church that helps the congregation connect with God and fellow Christians will experience growth. This message is anchored in Luke 10:27, which urges Christians to love God with all their body, mind, and soul, and to love their neighbours as they love themselves. According to Mollette, connecting with God and fellow Christians contributes to church growth by enabling conversion. When we connect with God, we gain the power to introduce others to God, thereby expanding the congregation. Connecting with God also increases our commitment to the church. Commitment in this case means not only devoting ourselves to serving God, but also fulfilling our obligations to the church such as financial support and helping the needy. Connecting with God also gives us a sense of completeness. As explained by Mollette, we may find fulfilment in family, friends, work, and material wealth, but there is nothing that brings ultimate completeness than our relationship with God. The church achieves this completeness through such activities as ushering, music, providing an opportunity for prayer, and preaching.

The third chapter dwells on winning souls to the kingdom of God. Mollette explains that pastors and passionate Christians have a responsibility to bring the lost to the church – they have mission to help people get born again. It is important to note that the lost are not just people who do not go to church or non-Christians. Indeed, there are many people who proclaim to be members of the church, but they are lost – they are not born again. Paying attention to this group is important for building the church. Every church service presents an ideal opportunity to reach out to the lost. The lost can also be reached by ensuring relevant preaching, creating a welcoming church environment, inviting people to church, and visiting people in their residences. Mollette adds that outreach should also be targeted to people who have never heard the gospel. Essentially, Mollette’s message in Chapter 3 is that pastors and committed Christians must endeavour to win souls for God. This is indeed the core mission of Christianity.

Chapter 4 pays attention to the role of the pastor in the church. According to Mollette (2012, p. 19), “the pastor is a central figure in the community.” In the church context, the pastor wears several hats simultaneously. He is not only a preacher and a minister, but also a shepherd, a counsellor, a consoler, a healer, a leader, an organiser, a motivator, and a role model. These roles are especially important given the day to day hardships the flock goes through. From work difficulties and family problems to sickness and emotional suffering, church members often encounter adversities that might shake their faith. By offering spiritual, social, moral, and emotional support, the pastor can help church members overcome life’s tribulations. While church members have needs, Mollette reminds us that the pastor also has needs – the pastor is human too. Thus, church members must also be willing pray for the pastor and offer any support he or she may require. Chapter 4 is arguably one of the most insightful chapters of the book as it highlights the multiple roles the pastor plays in building the church.

In Chapter 5, Mollette talks about pastoral outreach. This chapter basically builds on the role of the pastor described in the preceding chapters. The pastor must be strongly committed to the growth of the church. The pastor achieves this growth by not only preaching, teaching, and leading, but also outreach. Outreach means visiting. Visiting may take several forms including moving door to door, telephone calls, office appointments, Sunday morning surveys, as well as evening dialogues with church members over the week. Outreach contributes to church growth by presenting an opportunity to not only convert the lost, but also gain new church members. The fundamental message Mollette is passing in Chapter 5 is that church growth cannot be achieved at the pulpit only. One may be a great preacher, but if the element of outreach is missing, it may be quite difficult to grow the church. This is without a doubt a challenge to many pastors out there – they must be personally involved in outreach. Nevertheless, the chapter does not fail to mention the challenges pastors may face in outreach – e.g. lack of the open-door police in urban areas.

The role of the pastor is further expounded in Chapter 6. This chapter explains how the pastor can demonstrate care through preaching. Pastoral care is a vital component of church ministry. In fact, pastoral care skills are important skills for an effective pastor. Pastoral care as explained by Mollette is about ministering to the needs of the congregation. This usually takes a substantial portion of the pastor’s time. Pastoral care may be done at home, the hospital, the pastor’s home, and the pulpit. The prayer, help, and encouragement the congregation gets through these avenues go a long way in not only ministering to the needs of church members, but also building the church. Mollette notes that pastoral care goes beyond preaching about salvation. The pastor should as well focus on life’s problems such as depression, parenting, failure, anger, divorce, and bereavement. These problems can cause one to question God and eventually minimise the individual’s commitment to church, hence the need for the pastor to talk about them routinely. It can be seen that Chapter 6 is an extension of Chapter 4, which talks about the multiple roles of the pastor.

Chapter 7 is about challenges associated with church ministry. Though preceding chapters have mentioned some of the difficulties pastors may experience in their pastoral journey, Chapter 7 specifically pays attention to this important matter. Common challenges include unwillingness of the part of communities to abandon deeply ingrained traditions, loss of identity, lack of fulfilment, family pressure, and lack of privacy. These challenges can be detrimental to church growth. Indeed, Mollette notes that such challenges may sometimes be overwhelming for pastors, ultimately causing depression. Mollette urges pastors to learn to overcome “pastoral headaches.” They must always bear in mind that since God called them to ministry, He will always be there in their times of need. When faced with hardships, they should always seek the counsel and wisdom of God. Mollette also urges pastors to maintain a positive attitude. One of the interesting aspects of this chapter is that it familiarises the reader with the difficulties pastors experience in the course of ministry. From the surface, one may view church ministry as a straightforward undertaking. Mollette challenges this popular perception in this chapter by demonstrating the troubles of pastoral work.

Recognising the challenges of ministry, Mollette offer useful guidelines for overcoming the challenges in Chapter 8. He notes that pastors must constantly talk about ministerial health. They must carefully balance between ministry work and personal matters such as attending to friends. This is especially crucial as ministry work may often be extremely demanding, leaving little or no time for the pastor to engage in other things. Pastors can overcome the pressure of ministry by drawing their own schedules, remaining aware of their humanity, reserving time for self and family, and cultivating friendships. Such avenues may offer immense relief from ministry pressure. Pastors are human beings just like everyone else…

Sources Used in Document:

Reference

Mollette, G. (2012). Church growth 101: A church growth guidebook for ministers and laity. Newburgh: Newburgh Press.


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