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Much of the problem inherent in the traditional Church growth movement is the misunderstanding of “evangelism” and “making disciples”. “Evangelism” comes from the Greek word “euangellion” from which we translate the word “gospel” or “good news”. It has come to mean literally bearers of the good news. However, the practical understanding is that somehow we are to go into the entire world and make converts of every nation-to make Christians. What’s interesting is, this misguided emphasis has proven to be most ineffective. We have had no net increase in followers of Jesus in decades in the United States!
Most Church growth organizations today use Matthew 28, where Jesus commanded his followers to “Make disciples of all nations!”, as their mantra and vision for evangelizing the world. It’s clear that Jesus is directing his followers to make disciples-make learners and followers of him. It is not declaring open season on converting the world! It’s also clear that Jesus wants communities of followers-churches, assemblies, gatherings-of his followers to do life together in community. His intent is for each church or gathering to be truly community-interactive and participatory. Instead, using our man-made methods of Church growth, we tend to establish gatherings for spectators to watch and very little opportunity to participate. The result is like a football game: 50,000 people in the stands greatly in need of exercise and 22 players on the field badly in need of rest.
Jesus’ idea in launching a global movement was to begin, continue and end with “making disciples of all nations.”
In Church growth strategies, whose kingdom are we really promoting? If Jesus is the King of the Kingdom and is the Head of the Church, why don’t we pay more attention to his teachings? Jesus would never be hired by most Churches today.
We are convinced that God is calling people to himself from every culture of the world. This is the good news of Jesus and the kingdom. We are seeing this as the largest and fastest growing movement in the world. Some international studies have dubbed this group the “NONES”. They are not affiliated with any traditional religious group, yet spiritually attuned. This movement consists of former and practicing Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, Christians, Animists, Atheists, and Agnostics. This is where the “Jesus Movement” thrives.