During a discussion on church growth and effective ministry I started doodling along the lines of what made for an effective ministry and facilitated growth in our various (and many) churches.
One of the biggest problems is that all too often the measure used to determine a growing church is that of BOPS (Bums on Pews) or money, subjects that most conversations will come round to when the knotty issue of sustainability crops up!
The reality is that a growing church is not always one that can pay its way and this is especially true in the missional expressions of church that find themselves inhabiting Estate churches or ministering in Urban Priority Settings? The problem is that unless 'generosity' becomes more than something that is accompanied by a wistful sigh from bishops, the reality is that we are sometime soon going to find ourselves in a place where the neediest places will be the most bereft when it comes to ministry provision.
Of course there is always the hope that a new generation of worker priests will spring up but the reality is that the demands of such places often puts too much stress on those clergy who seek to function in the SSM/NSM (Self Supporting/Non-Stipendiary Ministries) and although this can be addressed by using OLM (ordained Local Ministers) the reality among many of those is that they function well as assistant clergy but many feel the pioneering and pastoral demands are outside of scope in terms of calling, ability and training (something I'm sure we will address in the years to come).
So what makes for a growing church if it is not BOPS and Pound coins? Here's some of my addled thinking of what makes for a growing church for you to ponder and challenge me over (in no particular order) where we are seeing people:
i. Come forward to take part in courses which develop Biblical understanding (Bishop's Certificate, etc.),
ii. Come forward to develop skills/abilities to enable them to be effective in ministry areas,
iii. Called out to minister in the local church - Covenanted Teams, lay or licensed lay/ordained ministry,
iv. Seeing people called out to minister in the wider church in licensed lay/ordained (stipendiary) ministry,
v. Come forward to be involved in the various ministry roles and projects as team members,
vi. Show a willingness to take responsibility and lead when needed and follow when called to,
vii. Come forward and give of their time without being asked in a consistent and reliable manner,
viii. Take pleasure in seeing others come to faith and grow in it such that they become peers,
ix. Put aside their own pleasures and interests to be at services or to fulfil commitments,
x. Want to spend time in prayer, study and fellowship.
I've limited the points to ten (and I could have gone on - and perhaps will sometime soon) and as I did I was blessed as I saw the faces of those to whom each point applied and saddened as I saw the faces of some for who each point did not apply (wondering whether I could have done more to facilitate or support).
How many people do we know for whom one or more of the above points apply? I would content that a happy, growing church is one where the members can lay claim to them in some measure. Not only that but I will be thinking and praying over each one of our members to see where I think they are and what I need to do to help them fulfil their baptismal calling and and take more ground for God in their lives. All-member ministry is the only way to grow church and the elements above are indicators and encouragement of same.
More soon - please come back to me and challenge - dialogue - amend and offer correction/suggestions.