You want your ministry to grow. That’s the point, isn’t it? As you blaze a new trail in ministry you are bringing fresh ideas and vision that will lead even more people to relationship with God. But history tells us time and again that growth for the sake of growth in the church can be harmful and even result in great loss. That is a road to avoid at all costs. Discerning God’s direction toward healthy church growth is key to producing generations of disciples.
With over 40 years in ministry, I’ve honed in on ten dynamics for healthy church growth. They are durable and timeless. Specific methods may change over time, but these dynamics hold true today just as they did when I started my ministry, and for many centuries before that. In fact, if you look carefully at any successful church multiplication movement, you’ll see these same principles at work there. This series of blog entries covers the ten essential dynamics that allow a church to grow in ways that are healthy, effective, and multiplying.
Dynamic #1 for Healthy Church Growth: Discerning God’s Direction
Discerning God’s direction: Following the promptings of the Holy Spirit as you move toward a clear and compelling vision that flows out of lived values and results in pursuit of the mission of Jesus.
For a church to be healthy and growing, it needs a purpose… a reason for existing. It needs an answer to the question, “What are we trying to accomplish?” How we answer that question is our mission, our direction from God. Of course, the Great Commission Jesus gave us—to make disciples of all nations—is the foundational starting point for the mission of any specific church. Consequently, any biblical mission statement should incorporate clear echoes of the Great Commission.
Yet at the same time, God is calling each church to something unique. We are each reaching different people in different ways in different times and places. To discern God’s calling for our specific church, we will need to listen to the Holy Spirit. We will not only need to listen once, but we will need to listen on an ongoing basis. Often God doesn’t give us all the direction we need ahead of time. He gives us some, then we are to act on it, and then return to a listening posture to determine what is next.
Spirit Driven Action
The direction God has for us will flow necessarily out of our values—what we hold to be important and the priorities we live according to. And that direction will result in the accomplishment of our mission—what God is ultimately calling us toward. As we listen for direction from the Holy Spirit, we can look to the needs around us, see the opportunities that lie there, model proactively moving in to serve and reach the world around us, and cast that vision to others in the church. With faith and tenacity, we can then move forward as the Body of Christ on mission in alignment with God’s direction.
6 Things You Can Do to Grow in Discerning God’s Direction
- Spend regular time in prayer, discerning the voice of the Holy Spirit.
- Familiarize yourself with God’s overall mission as set forth in scripture, then consider what part your church can play in accomplishing that mission.
- Engage in a cycle of listening, acting, reflecting, then listening again with each step forward.
- Identify then articulate your church’s values, mission, and vision.
- Cast that vision for others in your church so they are increasingly on board with the mission as well.
- Set faith goals and establish a workable plan to move into God’s direction for your church.
Listen to the Holy Spirit and take some time to assess how your church is currently doing in this area. Then identify some customized action steps you could take to strengthen this dynamic.
An Undivided Heart- It is possible to live in harmony with God and the world around you! If you need a bring-back-your-first-love moment, this book is for you. It is a journey in experiencing a renewed sense of opportunity and joyful fulfillment through growing closer to living and loving like Jesus.
Growth Barrier Coaching Guides- If your need is more practical, consider these coaching guides that are crafted to help you break through specific growth barriers. If attendance in your ministry has been stuck for some time, or you are experiencing growth but feeling spread thin, discover practical ways that you can shift your leadership to see healthy growth.