One of the biggest criticisms against the Church Growth Movement of the 1950s to the 1980s was that, although it started with the best of intentions — reaching people with the Gospel in a more structured and systematic way, thereby growing more churches and bigger churches — it degenerated into a formula-driven, social-science-based, “get ’em in the door at all costs” approach to missions, evangelism and … church growth.
Well, today nobody reads C. Peter Wagner and Donald McGavran, except maybe as required reading for a seminary class on The History of the Church Growth Movement in the Mid-to-Late Twentieth Century. But we still have the millennia-old problem of how to effectively reach the lost and win them to Christ, organize them into local, self-governing bodies as Christ and the New Testament writers said (following Old Testament example), while keeping these churches vibrant, growing and reproducing and making new disciples on a continual basis in their communities.
Solving this seemingly unsolvable dilemma in a reliable and biblically consistent way is the kind of thing that keeps covenantal-theology-embracing, Reformed evangelical Christians up at night… praying.
It is also the kind of thing that gets discussed at great length and in great detail at regional evangelistic church conferences — like the one that was held last July in Reading, Pennsylvania by the MId-Atlantic Reformation Society. It was titled, “The Future of Christendom Conference 2017”.
There was a LOT of discussion about evangelism and missions at this conference. Among the featured speakers was Dr. Gary North. Dr. North spoke via Skype from his home in suburban Atlanta, GA. He gave two 90-minute presentations. The first one was on Church Planting. The second was on Church Building.
I wrote about the first presentation in a previous post. You can read that here. Today, I’m publishing the second.
One thing you’ll notice here in this second presentation is that it is intensely practical. Lost of “actionable” material. Yes, like the first one — and frankly, like EVERY presentation that Dr. North gives — there is also a lot of history: interesting, vividly recounted, highly relevant history. (What else would you expect from a B.A., an M.A. and a Ph.D. in History, who has a penchant for public speaking and has been lecturing on these subjects for the last half century!)
But, in addition to the historical backdrop, he also provides a very helpful doctrinal-theological overview of the church and its historical struggles in both beliefs and practices with regard to evangelism and missions.
Then, in keeping with good Pauline (and Puritan) fashion, he follows the doctrinal discussion with practical application. It is a detailed discussion of “what to do” and “how to do it”. Here is how I sum it up:
- Problem: How to More Effectively Evangelize and Grow the Body of Christ.
- Solution: Do What Jesus Said and What the Old and New Testaments Teach (as well as what history has taught us to do and not do).
After two thousand years, we’re still trying to figure that out!
So, do watch this video. At the very least, listen to the audio first if you’re busy, then sit down and watch the whole presentation later. It is extraordinarily insightful and incisive (Dr. North’s hallmark “attributes”). It is, ultimately, a “call to action” with a comprehensive game plan and strategy that every local congregation and every church leader ought to follow and implement… IMMEDIATELY!
To supplement his talk, by the way, Dr. North mentions a web page on his site that is dedicated to this topic. He calls it: Sustained Revival.
Here come ninety minutes very well spent…