Who doesn't want their church to grow? Not only spiritually, but numerically? Most Christians, most pastors, would love to have more bodies in the pew.
So when some of us pitch a fit about the dangers of "Church Growth" I think the uninformed scratch their heads a little. "Don't you want the church to grow?"
Of course we do. But the right way. God's way. "Church Growth" has become a moniker for a certain approach - which is not God's way.
I surfed into the Lutheran Evangelism Association (LCMS?) web page, and found on their links this listing: The Church Doctor.
So I surfed on over there, and read the following:
Who shapes your life?
When you were a kid, did you ever play with Silly Putty? You could mold and shape it to do just about anything you wanted. What’s the power that shapes your life? The Bible says you’re to be like clay. And God wants to shape you.
The world has a different set of values. Shaped by the things of this world, you become kind of like Silly Putty. Want to be shaped and molded by God? Here’s my prescription: Do what He wants. Read the Bible. Follow its truth. Pray each day. Choose to be joyful. “God shape me! Show me Your will. Lead the way.” And put aside your comforts and desires. Let the Lord shape you up!
Gee... sounds like a lot of works righteousness to me. "Do what he wants" but not "believe and trust Christ". As if God molds you through your works, not by re-creating you in baptism.
Well... anyway, I read about their various programs and gimmicks, including:
The $375 "Apathy Quotient Inventory" (as Dave Barry would say, "I am not making this up..." and, "who cares about apathy, anyway?", but I digress). There you can learn just how little your congregation cares? Oh.. the process "activates people for ministry". Color me skeptical.
This whole website, in fact the whole "Church Growth" movement in general, seems to me more silly than silly putty. You don't crassly market God like a vacuum cleaner. Slick advertising and fancy inventories only distract from more substantial things - like faithful preaching, teaching, the sacraments. These are God's "Church Growth" strategies. The "Church Doctor". Christ is the Great Physician. And what this doctor prescribes is not "be good", but "believe" and "receive".