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Fall 1991 · Vol. 20 No. 2 · pp. 50–65 

Biblical Perspectives of Church Growth Which Mennonite Brethren Should Embrace

Responses by Chuck Buller 20/2 (1991): 66–69; and Vern Heidebrecht 20/2 (1991): 69–71.

Herb Kopp

My assignment is three-fold: first, to outline the fundamental character and tenets of the Church Growth Movement (henceforth abbreviated to CGM); second, to note both the positive and negative influences of the CGM on the Mennonite Brethren Church; and third, to outline the basic biblical perspectives which the Mennonite Brethren Church should embrace.

The church growth movement has nudged the church toward greater faithfulness, but what about the step-by-step recipes for success?

BASIC TENETS OF THE CHURCH GROWTH MOVEMENT

It is only fair that in establishing the basic tenets of the Church Growth Movement (CGM) we should go directly to the founding fathers and their writings. Every worthwhile movement soon attracts a fringe element which distorts the defined centre by highlighting one propositional aspect of the movement at the expense of others. The CGM deserves to be defined, not by the fringe element, but by its most serious thinkers.

C. Peter Wagner is correct when he claims that after thirty years of dialogue, testing and writing “. . . the CGM is [now] {51} commonly recognized as a permanent feature on the religious landscape of America and the world.” 1 There are four fundamental issues at the centre of this movement.

The CGM as a reaction to a unique historical/cultural setting

Four distinct ideas came together to give birth to the Church Growth Movement. The first flowed directly out of the experience of missiologist Donald McGavran. While reviewing the records of a year’s missionary enterprise in India in the early 1950s, McGavran became deeply disturbed that only fifty-two persons had been added to the church, although $125,000 had been expended in the effort. Surely, he thought, there must be a better way to do missionary work.

Responsible church growth writers freely admit that pragmatism is at the center of the movement. However, it is not a bald, crass pragmatism for its own sake; rather, the pragmatism is an ethical issue. McGavran was of the mind that too many missionaries were working with the attitude: “Sow the seed and leave it to God to produce the harvest.” McGavran became convinced that the missionary enterprise ought to be evaluated, not on a well-meaning “sowing of the seed,” but by results. He argued that too many financial and personnel resources were being used in inefficient ways.

The second factor was the inroads of liberal theology into missions. Peter Wagner, who surfaces the argument repeatedly, sets out the case bluntly:

Back when The Bridges of God was published, liberal Christianity was having a heyday. The social gospel was in, and a massive effort had been mounted to redefine the terms “mission” and “evangelism.” Mission means fulfilling the cultural mandate. Evangelism meant giving a cup of cold water in the name of Jesus and helping Muslims or Buddhists become better people. Advocating conversion to Christianity was regarded as distasteful, something akin to coercion or manipulation. Donald McGavran, who himself had once advocated these positions, now saw their spiritual emptiness. He launched a thirty-year crusade to bring the meanings of mission and evangelism back to their classic, biblical moorings. 2

Wagner sees the rise of the CGM as filling the vacuum created {52} when “. . . the rebellious anti-establishment social psychology of the 1960s” 3 began to ebb and when, finally, “. . . the negative correlation of liberalism and membership growth and the positive correlation of theological conservatism” 4 had been established by leaders of declining mainline denominations.

Church growth leaders brought a combative style to missions, a tangle between conservatives and liberals.

Dr. McGavran’s combative style reflects the polarisation which existed in the mission debate in the 50s through to the early 70s. Then evangelicals were attacking what they considered to be the syncretism and universalism of the liberals, while the liberals accused the evangelicals of preaching a truncated gospel of personal salvation to the exclusion of social justice as an essential element of the Good News. 5

The third factor in the emergence of the CGM was its understanding that missions was not in need of another plan, but rather, of a strategy-a theory which would research and embrace the universal principles of church growth. Emerging, during this time, from the shadows of the pure and applied sciences, were the social sciences. Liberal theology had already embraced the social sciences and used them to propagate the notion that the missions era was over.

McGavran and friends disagreed and began to use these same social sciences, but with the difference that they married them to theology, to arrive at their church growth principles. McGavran was the first to bring these together. Wagner pursues the same goal.

Students of church growth strive to integrate the eternal theological principles of God’s Word concerning the expansion of the church with the best insights of contemporary social and behavioral sciences, employing as the initial frame of reference the foundational work done by Donald McGavran. 6

And fourth, a special vocabulary, with specifically defined terms, emerged to give respectability to the movement. Since the CGM was fighting liberal theology, which argued that the day of missions was over, and since McGavran himself had admitted that “sowing the seed and leaving the results to God” wasn’t an adequate answer to the missiological questions of {53} the 1950s, a new, clearly-defined and specifically-interpreted set of words needed to be established. So particular are church growth scholars about definitions that they not only produce glossaries (e.g., almost 200 words and phrases appear in the glossary of Church Growth: The State of the Art), but they also argue that they continue to have the exclusive right to define terms. One church growth writer puts it this way:

I use the terms “Church Growth Movement” or “Church Growth Theory,” to refer to the body of teaching associated with the approach of Donald A. McGavran, Alan R. Tippett, C. Peter Wagner, Win Arn and others of the so-called “Fuller School.” 7

In summary, the CGM was born through the frustration of insufficient church growth in comparison to the financial and personnel resources being expended. Giving impetus to this new look at missions was a very particular milieu characterized by the advent of liberal theology which was eroding the historic missiological stance of the mainline churches, and the emergence of the social and behavioural sciences as valid fields of study.

Defining Church Growth

The CGM, as indicated earlier, is fussy about definitions. It accepted, for example, the fine definition of evangelism, as carved out by the Anglical Archbishops in 1918:

To evangelize is so to present Christ Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit that men and women shall come to put their trust in God through Him, to accept Him as their Saviour, and to serve Him as their King in the fellowship of His Church. 8

J. I. Packer approves this definition as do many others. 9 The CGM, however, soon parts company with Packer in its application. This is so because the CGM is not so much concerned with a general definition of evangelism as it is in defining, in precise terms, the principles of church growth which its advocates see as a particular part of evangelism.

Church growth is that discipline which investigates the nature, expansion, planting, multiplication, function and health of Christian churches as they related to the {54} effective implementation of God’s commission to make disciples of all people. 10

McGavran warms the heart by saying:

We are increasingly perceiving that all men and women have the inalienable right to follow Jesus Christ and be members of his special family, a basic human right too often denied or ignored in the recent past. 11

It is C. Peter Wagner who articulated how the CGM regards the relationship between church growth and evangelism. Wagner suggests that there are three major theologically-driven views of evangelism. 12 These three are: presence, proclamation and persuasion. “Presence” evangelism consists of helping persons who are in need, in the name of Jesus (Matt. 10:40-42; Mark 19:46; Luke 10:25-37). “Proclamation” evangelism puts the emphasis on verbalizing the gospel so that unbelievers hear the Word of God and understand it (Rom. 10:14ff). As Packer notes, “Evangelism is not producing converts, but rather, it is faithfully making known the gospel message.” 13 The third is “persuasion” evangelism. McGavran, very early in the history of the CGM, rejected the idea that “sowing the seed” was enough. So it was logical that CGM leaders would say:

Persuasion does not reject either presence or proclamation. Both are regarded as necessary for biblical evangelism. But it does not accept either as a goal. The goal of evangelism for the Church Growth Movement is to persuade unbelievers to become followers of Jesus Christ and responsible members of a Christian church. No matter how many times they hear the gospel, if they do not become confessing and practising disciples of Jesus Christ they are still regarded as being unevangelized. 14

The view about “persuasion” is centered in Matthew 28:19-20, a text which takes precedence over all the other words of Jesus. 15 CGM leaders forthrightly reject “holistic” evangelism. Holistic evangelists insist that good deeds and evangelism are inseparably tied together and cannot be separated. 16 The Church Growth Movement not only disagrees; they, in fact, deliberately separate the two and give priority to evangelism over social ministries. The CGM declares flatly that “. . . evangelism is more important.” 17 CGM writers {55} describe the relationship between the broader definitions of evangelism and the narrower focus of the movement in the following terms:

The fields of evangelism and church growth are distinct, but they enjoy a close and often symbiotic relationship. The field of evangelism is broader than church growth in educational, theological, social and methodological aspects. The field of church growth is broad in missiological and ecclesiastical aspects. The two intersect and become synonymous when the goal of evangelism-the bottom line on which success or failure is evaluated-is to bring unbelievers into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and into responsible church membership. 18

CGM as a Theological Movement

“We stand in the sunrise of missions,” 19 the oft-repeated, optimistic, missiological catch-phrase coined by Donald McGavran, is more than a blithe missiological slogan. It is rooted in CGM’s biblical understanding that the age of missions is not in the sunset phase of activity, as many have proclaimed it to be. Rather, it is just now dawning.

This conviction was born in the fertile soil of conservative, biblical theology. In looking back over thirty years of church growth, McGavran noted:

The Church Growth School of Thought [sic] is deeply theological. If you understand the church growth position at all, you must see it cradled in theological concepts-doctrines-which have been common to all denominations from Baptist to Roman Catholic. Only an unshakeable conviction that God wants His lost children found produces or long maintains biblical mission. 20

McGavran asserts that where there is no faithfulness there is no growth. 21 Growth is what God wants; he desires it. McGavran explains:

God’s obedient servants seek church growth not as an exercise in humanity, but because the extension of the Church is pleasing to God. Church growth is faithfulness. . . Church growth follows where Christians show faithfulness in finding the lost. The purpose is not to search, but to find. . . . Church growth follows where the lost are not {56} merely found but [are] restored to normal life within the fold-though it may be a life they have never consciously known. Faithfulness in proclamation and finding is not enough. There must be faithful aftercare. 22

The CGM is not interested in the lesser definitions of evangelism, but brings together a comprehensive, intentional strategy which includes proclamation, persuasion, the intentional finding of the lost sheep, and the deliberate nurturing of these new converts so that they will become active, mature members of the local church.

CGM as a Methodological Movement

While asserting that its primary focus is theological, the CGM nonetheless is probably noted more for its methodological genius than for its theological formulations. Certainly, much of the CGM’s writing in the past decade has been in the area of methodology. Donald McGavran, early in the formation of the CGM, tried to understand why the gospel took hold in some regions more easily than in other regions. This is where the social sciences entered the picture. While contending that the CGM is “. . . no mere sociological process” 23 (that is, ultimately and finally, it is God who builds the church), it nonetheless draws heavily on the social and behavioral sciences in its methodology.

Two ideas are linked in classical church growth procedure: first, the social, economic, political, cultural, behavioral patterns of a society are studied (this is called “contextualization” for the gospel); and second, pragmatism is married to social sciences (that is, does it work?).

McGavran notes that to spread the Christian faith effectively one needs to take into account the cultural context. No two cultures respond in the same way to the gospel. But some sociological principles are constant. For example:

The faith spreads most naturally and contagiously along the lines of the social networks of living Christians, especially new Christians. Receptive undiscipled men and women usually receive the Possibility [sic] when the invitation is extended to them from credible Christian friends, relatives, neighbors, and fellow workers from within their social web. 24

{57}

The second driving force of the CGM is pragmatism. Does a methodology work? If not, throw it out; if it works poorly, refine it until it does. Wagner declares: “. . . church growth accepts evangelistic methods which make disciples of Jesus Christ, while rejecting those which are supposed to but don’t. Effective evangelism results in church growth.” 25 This approach has resulted not only in a plethora of how-to-do-church-growth books flooding the marketplace, but also has led to the formation of church growth consulting companies. Systematized church growth manuals are available by the dozens and, it seems, every rapidly growing church offers its particular version as the latest break-through in how-to-grow-a-church theory.

The language of these systems is surprisingly similar, reinforcing CGM’s argument that certain principles have universal application. For example, the phrase “. . . paying the price for growth” 26 is very common. It describes the necessity to abandon all interests and ideas which get in the way of singleminded church growth. The pastor pays a price; the congregation pays a price.

In summary, while the CGM argues that it has a theological centre, much of its energies are directed to the research and development of sociological principles which are easily transferred into how-to manuals. Indeed, the very language it uses in these manuals, such as “audit, quality check, goal setting, evaluation of methodology, people blindness, planned parenthood, resistance/receptivity axis” (and dozens of other such words), 27 gives the movement a very pragmatic face. The CGM accepts this as a compliment-it is indeed a pragmatic science.

POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE INFLUENCES OF THE CHURCH GROWTH MOVEMENT ON THE MENNONITE BRETHREN CHURCH

Wagner is correct when he suggests that the CGM is a permanent feature on the religious landscape of North America. Moreover CGM is also a permanently etched feature on the religious landscape of the Mennonite Brethren Church.

Positive Influences

The positive influences of CGM have not only strengthened and nudged the church toward greater faithfulness in {58} ministry, but have also reinforced the direction which we have understood the Scriptures to teach. First, the Mennonite Brethren church has always been a missionary movement. This is well documented by writers such as G. W. Peters, 28 J. B. Toews, 29 and J. J. Toews. 30 A missions mindset is deeply ingrained into our thinking and in our past. The strong biblical affirmation by the CGM that the age of missions is not over wears well with us.

Second the Mennonite Brethren Church historically has been a radical, Bible-reading movement. 31 We read the Scriptures; we allow the Scriptures to say what they want to say; and we encourage our members to live out in daily life what they call us to do. We understand following Jesus to be risky, costly business. When McGavran confesses, in straightforward terms, that the CGM is based on the truthfulness of the Scriptures and its directives are to be followed in daily life, we nod in agreement.

Third, we also affirm that faithfulness to God and dependence on his Spirit are the necessary driving force which allows the church to make an impact within the society in which it has its life. An accommodating church is a weak church. We are convinced that it is God’s intent that none should perish, but all should have eternal life (John 3:14ff). We affirm the CGM for holding this premise strongly and uncompromisingly. We also affirm the idea that God wants us to be much more intentional in seeking lost persons. Though we may not accept fully the recent trends toward charismatic groupings, we, nonetheless, applaud CGM’s openness in examining both the biblical basis and the empirical evidence which such a movement presents for examination. 32

Fourth, since all truth is God’s truth, we instinctively know that the social sciences have something to add to our understanding of human behaviour. We know from experience that the gospel travels most naturally and productively along the lines of social networks. Therefore, when church growth thinkers suggest that the church pay attention to social and family networks, we muster no opposition to such parlance.

Fifth, if pushed hard enough, there is sufficient pragmatism in all of us and our churches to make us admit that we want “value for our missionary/church dollar.” Evaluation is difficult business. We frequently allow inefficient but goodhearted efforts to continue to swallow meager resources {59} because we have no taste for the brutal task of evaluation.

In summary, we are much richer and well-served by many of the emphases which CGM has highlighted. We have been instructed and nurtured by much of their work; and our churches have experienced authentic growth.

Negative Influences

As is so often the case, the seeds of destruction are contained within the strengths which give a movement its self-sustaining energy. A movement becomes vulnerable when it refines and pushes one facet of truth at the expense of another. This is the “Achilles heel” of the CGM.

First, while we agree and affirm the priority of evangelism and church growth, the CGM moves onto shaky ground when it sets one word of Jesus (the Great Commission, Matt. 28:19-20) over another word of Jesus (the Great Commandment, Luke 10:25ff). Clearly, Jesus fully expected both words to be read and to be obeyed. He wants the Great Commission to be as enthusiastically embraced as the Great Commandment. It isn’t one or the other; it is both-with full heart, mind and will. By setting one over the other, the CGM takes upon itself the right to elevate one important word of Jesus over the other. Every serious Bible-reading believer is nonplussed by this act. What the church needs is not more of one and less of the other, but rather more of both. The degree to which the church narrows the mandate of Jesus is the degree to which it cannot address the needs of the world.

Second, while affirming the axiom that all truth is God’s truth, a caution needs to be expressed against the idea that we can explain the mysterious moving of God through sociological data. While sociological principles provide much valuable insight into human behavioral patterns, not everything runs true to sociological form. The curious human penchant to put God into a predictable behavioral model and to plot on a graph how the church will grow frequently flies in the face of God’s interaction and intervention in the affairs of humanity. We do well to take note of Richard Mouw’s caution, “Our faithfulness cannot be realized through programs of epic proportions-God himself seems to avoid such programs on a regular basis.” 33 It is easier to articulate sociological church growth principles than it is to articulate and codify the mysterious workings of God. The evidence for this is all around us. {60} Look at the plethora of “How-to-Grow-a-Church” handbooks and manuals that have innundated the marketplace in the past dozen years, and the few books that help us to understand the nature and character of God.

We become somewhat edgy when how-to manuals, replete with step-by-step recipes for success, become the primary stimulants for thought. When George A. Kelly was asked why he wrote the provocative book entitled, Who Should Run the Catholic Church? Social Scientists, Theologians or Bishops? he answered, “Because it was apparent to me that Social Science was being misused to promote changes in the Catholic Church which would in the long run be unacceptable.” 34 Though it is true that God usually works within the established sociological patterns of human behavior, he just as often works in other ways. For example, it is well documented, particularly in our history, that renewal movements and accelerated church growth go together. 35 Renewal movements tend not to follow the carefully charted lines of sociological methodology, but rather, against all odds, they simply follow the mysterious winds of the Holy Spirit.

Third, the highly centralized form of church government required to put in place growth theory is problematic. While it is agreed that Wagner (particularly) 36 encourages the training and sharing of leadership in the local church, the CGM places inordinate emphasis and power into the role of the pastor. In certain settings this might be appropriate, in others it is not!

Fourth, while it is certainly necessary to evaluate and critique every program in missions and evangelism, and while it is necessary to make tough, objective decisions (if that, in fact, is possible) regarding the mission enterprise, it nonetheless is not the entire story. Not everything can be evaluated on such grounds. If our definition of evangelism is only broad enough to accommodate our pragmatic inclinations-that is, if it works, keep it; if it doesn’t work, scrap it; if it works poorly, make it work 37-then we will lose something that is hard to gain back again. The idea proposed by J. I. Packer that evangelism occurs when the Good News is proclaimed 38 (even though positive responses are not forthcoming) means that the Good News, nevertheless, is sent forth as God has instructed it should be done, and it will accomplish what he intends for it to do (Isa. 55:10-11).

Fifth, the CGM asserts strongly that it is a theological {61} movement. By this they mean that they find the impetus for the movement within the Scriptures. This we applaud. However, the CGM is hardly a theological movement. It has not added very much to our understanding of the Scriptures; rather, it has read the Scriptures with a certain bias (as we all do) to justify the philosophical and sociological directions its major research has taken.

When pragmatism rules in the church, that is, when the question of “how” something is done takes centre stage, then the “Who” of the One behind the church gets lost in the shuffle. Even a cursory reading of the Acts of the Apostles leaves us in no doubt that it was the power of the risen Christ indwelling the infant church which was the sole impetus for the remarkable growth of the early church.

THE BASIC BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVES WHICH THE MENNONITE BRETHREN CHURCH SHOULD EMBRACE

The genius of the Anabaptist reformation was that our forefathers read the Scriptures with the intent that they should be obeyed. A faith, they argued, without obedience isn’t faith at all. The Anabaptist leaning toward biblical theology was quite deliberate-let God be God; let the Lord of the church set the terms for discipleship; let the Scriptures speak even if they create tension for us.

What, then, are the biblical perspectives we ought to embrace? Here are four for discussion.

First, at the center of the church is Jesus Christ. He is not only the primary, but also the only focal point of the church. If we do not actively teach and affirm that the church exists only through the redemptive purposes and intentions of God and that we are incorporated into a body of which he solely is the Head, by and through his sovereign will and grace, we begin to lose the majesty of being part of a King who has a kingdom. At the centre of God’s purposes are not the pragmatic growth schemes of the church, but rather his majestic glory. Too much church growth writing is sociological scheming-of course, with the honorable intent of making disciples. I fear for a church that loses its God-consciousness. I fear for a church more interested in providing a full-service agency (with amenities such as adequate parking, innumerable programs designed to make our worship life easier, etc.) for a consumer-oriented {62} society, than existing for the glory of the risen Christ. The amazing growth of the first century church cannot be attributed to slick churchmanship; rather it is attributed directly to a church caught up in wonder, in prayer and in worship of the risen Christ.

Second, we need to reaffirm our openness to hearing God’s word even if it creates tension for us. It might be easier to do church if we simply “prioritize” God’s complex word to us. It might make churches function more smoothly, but we will soon be the poorer for it. The church needs to affirm that all of God’s words represent his will for us and are to be obeyed. This means we will often struggle to bring balance to our witness. Indeed, a cup of cold water, given in the name of the risen Lord, is witness. It is also obedience to his command. No one may notice this act, but Jesus knows and commends such action (Matt. 10:40-42). The narrower the definition of evangelism, the less able the church is equipped to respond to God’s world with the Good News which changes humanity fundamentally at the core of their being. Therefore, we must embrace equally “presence” and “proclamation” and “persuasion.”

Third, we need an ecclesiology which embraces actively the priesthood of all believers. To separate the church into the artificial categories of leaders and followers is to fall into the trap that bedeviled medieval, middle ages Christianity. Jesus was very clear that there are to be no barriers between the members of his kingdom. The basin and towel are eternal symbols of how we are to serve one another. In a day when power in society gives persons the right to order the lives of others, the church must increasingly reaffirm the call for humility and servant leadership. Indeed, the church needs fewer Chief Executive Officers and more servants.

Fourth, the conflict of the ages which has raged since the announcement that the Son of the woman will crush the head of the serpent (Gen. 3:15) is most certainly a passionately-contested spiritual war. The early church knew that the spiritual disciplines of prayer, fellowship around the Eucharist, and the study of the Scriptures were the way to develop strength for this ongoing struggle. Jesus said that the issue was not one of flesh and blood, but of principalities and powers. He warned that some things can only change and be won through fasting and prayer. The Mennonite Brethren Church will not rise or {63} fall on the smoothness of its administrative, decision-making capacity, or on its willingness to embrace sociological formulations that are true and helpful; rather, it will rise or fall on the willingness of the whole church to become involved in the life and death struggle of spiritual warfare.

Eugene Peterson warns that anything, including the gospel, can be sold if it is properly packaged. 39 We need to acknowledge that we do the church, which is the visible sign of the Kingdom of God on earth, much harm when we package the gospel so that it becomes attractive, marketable and saleable.

CONCLUSION

The CGM was created in response to a very particular set of personal frustrations, cultural and theological trends. It has developed rapidly through the past three decades becoming a powerful influence, shaping the direction and form of the evangelical church of the Western world. Its strength is the single-minded devotion to church growth which it elicits from those who embrace its teachings. It has as its primary objective the task to outline, in as precise terms as possible, the reasons why churches grow. This it has done boldly and openly.

The spin-off effect of all of this is that in attempting to create singlemindedness in church growth, it has also tended to create single-dimensional churches. No one church tradition or movement adequately represents the wholeness of the church, the body of Christ-neither the 19th century pietism nor the 20th century social gospel movement; neither the intellectually-oriented student movements of the past century nor the compassionate ministries of the Salvation Army; neither the revivalist movements of Jonathan Edwards nor the charismatic renewal movements sweeping our day-the church is more than any one of these.

The CGM, like all of these other movements, is part of the work of Christ’s church, which is the visible sign of the Kingdom of God. We do well to hear its call to us to be faithful in seeking and finding “the lost sheep.” We also do well not to make it the only focus of our church life and ministry. We must be open to hearing God call us to the widest possible range of ministries so that all of his purposes will be expressed within {64} the church and within society.

NOTES

  1. Thom S. Rainer, ed., Evangelism in the Twenty-first Century: The Critical Issues. Wheaton: Shaw, 1989, 23.
  2. C. Peter Wagner, ed., Church Growth: State of the Art. Wheaton: Tyndale, 1989, 23.
  3. C. Peter Wagner, Leading Your Church to Growth. Ventura CA: Regal, 1984, 15.
  4. Ibid, 33.
  5. Eddie Gibbs, I Believe in Church Growth. Eerdmans: Grand Rapids, 1981, 21.
  6. Rainer, Evangelism in the Twenty-first Century, 25.
  7. C. Peter Wagner quotes Ebbie C. Smith, of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, in the opening chapter of the book Church Growth: State of the Art, 27.
  8. Wagner, Leading Your Church to Growth, 21.
  9. J. I. Packer, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God. Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1961, 40.
  10. Rainer, Evangelism in the Twenty-first Century, 25.
  11. Donald McGavran and George G. Hunter III, Church Growth: Strategies That Work. Nashville: Abingdon, 1980, 22.
  12. Rainer, Evangelism in the Twenty-first Century, 27-28.
  13. Packer, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, 40.
  14. McGavran and Hunter, Church Growth: Strategies That Work, 27.
  15. Ibid, 28.
  16. Ibid, 28.
  17. Ibid, 28.
  18. Ibid, 33.
  19. Wagner, Church Growth: State of the Art, 15.
  20. Ibid, 38.
  21. Donald A. McGavran, Understanding Church Growth (rev. ed.). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1980, 5-8.
  22. Ibid, 5-6.
  23. Ibid, 6.
  24. McGavran and Hunter, Church Growth: Strategies That Work, 31.
  25. Rainer, Evangelism in the Twenty-first Century, 31.
  26. Wagner, Leading Your Church to Growth. All of Chapter 2, pages 41-71, “Church Growth Is Not Cheap,” covers this subject matter.
  27. Wagner. Church Growth: State of the Art. See the glossary of 22 pages.
  28. G. W. Peters, Foundations of Mennonite Brethren Missions. Winnipeg: Kindred, 1984. Peters celebrates a sweep of 120 years of M.B. missions. He notes that it was the intention of this small church denomination to “reach around the globe with the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
  29. J. B. Toews, The Mennonite Brethren Church in Zaire. Winnipeg: Christian Press, 1978. Elmer Martens in the preface cites statistical evidence to support his {65} claim that “Mennonite Brethren, representing a small segment of the Christian world, have been strongly involved in missionary outreach in their 118 years of history,” 5.
  30. J. J. Toews, The Mennonite Brethren Mission in Latin America. Winnipeg: Christian Press, 1975. Paul G. Hiebert, in the “Introduction” (11), focuses attention on the strong Mennonite Brethren grassroots interest in missions. He cautions readers not to forget “. . . the thousands of people who worked and gave of their means to support the work.”
  31. J. A. Toews, A History of the Mennonite Brethren Church. Hillsboro: Mennonite Brethren Publishing, 1975. Toews repeatedly describes the gathering together of church leaders and of local churches to hear the word expounded to them.
  32. Rainer, Evangelism in the Twenty-first Century, 32-33.
  33. Richard Mouw, “A Kinder, Gentler Calvinism,” The Reformed Journal (October 1990): 12.
  34. George A. Kelly, Who Should Run the Catholic Church? Social Scientists, Theologians or Bishops? Huntington IN: Visitor, 1976. (See “Introduction”)
  35. J. A. Toews, A History of the Mennonite Brethren Church. Note: Toews traces the histories of all of the provincial and district conferences of the Mennonite Brethren church in North America. Repeated references are made to the renewals which broke out in the church. These renewals triggered a renewed sense of mission both overseas and in the local area.
  36. Wagner, Leading Your Church to Growth. Note: For a fuller treatment of the leadership question, see Chapter 2, “Church Growth Is Not Cheap,” 41-71.
  37. Rainer, Evangelism in the Twenty-first Century, 33.
  38. Packer, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, 40.
  39. Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction. Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1981, 12.
Herb Kopp is pastor of the Lendrum Mennonite Brethren Church in Edmonton, Alberta.

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