Monthly Archives: May 2008

Why Do Mission Churches Grow?

“Mission church” is a good example of faulty nomenclature. Not only is it faulty, it is misleading and damaging. It is misleading in that such terminology assumes there can be churches which are not “mission churches.” It is damaging for the same reason. There really shouldn’t be any difference between churches in the so-called “mission field” and churches where the Christian population is thicker, like my home town of Abilene, Texas.

In Abilene, with a church of some kind on every major street (many of them churches of Christ), you still can’t throw a rock without hitting someone who needs to hear the good news. So does that make Abilene a “mission field?” I would argue that it does. Does that make Abilene churches “mission churches?” In theory, it must. In actual practice, however, few churches in Abilene conduct themselves as such.

I think we will all agree that not all mission fields are in other countries. Churches in the U.S. send missionaries to places in this country where the Christian population is thin, such as the Northern tier of states. My definition of a “mission field” is any place where there is a mission to fulfill. So, what constitutes a “mission field?” It must be a place where people need to hear the gospel. In fact, I walked through the door of my Abilene home today to run some errands and backed out of the driveway into the “mission field.”

In these first years of the new millennium, we find ourselves moaning and groaning about the fact that churches of Christ in the West are not growing[1]. We actually have this in common with the evangelical denominations including the Southern Baptists. Thirteen years ago, Dr. Flavil Yeakley, Jr. wrote,

The good news is that Churches of Christ are not declining as some reported. The bad news is that they are not growing and have not been growing for over 13 years. It is not that we do not know how or that we do not have the necessary resources. We have the man power; we have the money power; we have the brain power; and, most of all, we have the power of God. All that we need is the will power.[2]

Now, another 13 years later, The Christian Chronicle has featured a series of articles asking, “Are We Growing?”[3] In one of those articles, Rich Little and Charles Cook, had this to say: “There has been a disconnect between the doctrine of evangelism and the practice of evangelism,” said Rich Little, a minister in Naperville, Ill. “While we passionately believe we should reach the lost, we are not passionately seeking them.” Charles Cook, now working with Sunset International Bible Institute’s new branch school in Singapore says, “We primarily convert only our offspring, and only a small percentage of these are remaining active in the church as grownups. Not until the whole church again catches the evangelistic spirit … will we experience growth and retain our young people.”

Mission churches grow because their leaders understand the mission and diligently pursue it. Missionaries and their senders understand they are sent to make disciples. Unlike their counterparts in plateaued and declining churches at home, they know they are not sent to build buildings and hold “worship services.” Every person they meet, every situation they encounter is seen as a potential opportunity to make disciples and gather them into fellowships; God-powered growth results.

“Swelling” will not do. Real growth only occurs when a lost person is saved, discipled and added to the body of Christ. The process is simple: we become salt and light by living lives that adorn the gospel which is consistently planted and watered. God then causes the growth. That’s the way Jesus and the apostles did it. That’s the way we must do it.


[1] This is most certainly not true in developing countries. It is estimated that at least two thirds of members of churches of Christ live in Africa, India and other “developing nations.” But this illustrates the point: mission churches grow because of intense outreach.

[2] Church Growth Magazine 10 (January – March, 1995): 9 – 11. Accessed 25 May, 2008 at http://4churchgrowth.com/chur4148.htm

[3] The Christian Chronicle, “Are We Growing?” Accessed 25 May, 2008 at http://www.christianchronicle.org/article611~Population_outpaces_church

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Filed under church, conversion, discipleship, Ekklesia, Jesus Christ, Kingdom Growth, Missions/Evangelism, Religion, Uncategorized

There is no Middle Ground

I want to refer my readers to an excellent article by Robert P. Odle that you will find thought-provoking, inspirational and convicting.

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Are All Theists the Same?

As you may know (and if you don’t know you are soon to find out), atheism has declared war on theism. One of their tactics is to lump all of religion together. Here is the obvious problem with such generalizations: all religions are not the same. They do not all believe the same things; they do not all act the same ways.

Religion is not even settled on whether a supreme being exists. Those who believe in a supreme being are not in agreement on who or what he is. There’s not even agreement on his nature and expectations of those he created. The god of the Muslims, for example, is quite different from the God of Christians and Jews. The Muslim God expects his followers to rid the earth of the infidels. If you can’t persuade them, kill them. If you have to kill yourself, your children, your babies to eliminate a few of them…so be it. Then again, not all Muslims would agree with this, but they are strangely silent.

Atheists delight in pointing out the horrendous acts of religious people they lump together as “Christians.” A favorite target is the Roman Catholic Church with its crusades, persecutions, executions, edicts, etc. Next on their list are the Protestants with much of the same. Not only are these vastly different from each other, but they are quite different, in varying degrees, from the primitive Christianity exposed in the New Testament. They are the results of virgin Christianity being interfered with by the likes of Calvin, Luther, Wesley, Smith, Zwingli, popes, assorted false prophets, and various televangelists.

Now, if you don’t believe that most atheists lump together all religions, especially those claiming to be Christian, just have a look at their blogs and websites.

While you’re at it, have a look at John Clayton’s article, “Atheists Declare War on Faith

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Filed under Apologetics, Atheism/Theism, Culture Wars, Religion, Science, Supernatural, Theism