Remaining a Healthy Church
Words cannot truly express what we have witnessed over the past few months. From the very first day that we arrived we were able to see the hand of God moving here at our church. It has been and continues to be the anointing of God upon each of us here. Each Sunday prior to the church service, I lay hands on each pew and chairs and invite the Holy Spirit and new people to fill each pew. It has been a true joy to see both occur each week. We are blessed each week to see our church grow both spiritually and physically. I get asked at least once each week what the secret is for why our church is growing. My best response is that God is in control. I read an article from the North Georgia Conference website (www.ngumc.org) that also describes what we are experiencing here at our church.
The Secret of Growing Churches
The All-By-Itself Principle
“The term ‘growth automatisms’ is at heart of our definition of ‘natural church development.’ The biblical concept behind this term is best described in the words of Mark 4:26-29:
He also said, ‘This is what the Kingdom of God is like.
A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps
or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.
All by itself the soil produces grain -
- first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head.
As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it,
because the harvest has come.
This parable clearly shows what they can and should do, and what they cannot do. They should sow and harvest, they may sleep and rise. What they cannot do is this: they cannot bring forth fruit. In the text, we find the mysterious description of the earth producing fruit by itself. Most commentators agree that this by itself is the key for understanding this parable. The term used in the Greek is automate -literally translated it means automatic. Thus this passage from Mark explicitly speaks of growth automatisms.
In the context of the parable, automate means simply with no apparent cause, and the underlying thought is performed by God Himself. In applying this idea to the life of a congregation, it indicates that certain developments appear to happen all by themselves, or automatically. Christians, however, know – even though it cannot be proven empirically – that fruit that develops seemingly all by itself is, in reality, the work of God. The automatism is really theomatism!
This is what we mean by the all-by-itself principle. I understand this principle to be the very essence of church growth. Growing churches utilize this principle. It is the secret of their success! Some do it deliberately, others by instinct. It does not really matter. Ultimately, what counts is applying this principle.”