From the Editors: North American Mennonite Brethren Consultation on Church Growth
Church growth was of interest to Luke when he wrote about the results of Pentecost in the Book of Acts. Any church which lays claim to the same tradition cannot ignore the subject of church growth. Heading into the current decade, the Mennonite Brethren adopted a set of goals to be reached by the year 2000. One of these goals was for an increase in church membership from 45,000 to 65,000. The goals, proposed by the Board of Faith and Life, called for fifty multi-cultural churches to be established.
To provide orientation and incentive for church growth, major boards of the denomination arranged for a North-America-wide consultation. Apart from the nature of the topic, the broad-based sponsorship for this consultation, and the high attendance made the event especially significant. The papers and responses presented at the consultation in Vancouver, B.C., in April 1991, though at times abbreviated, are found in the following pages.
The focus on church growth is helpfully augmented by a scriptural study on Paul and the conversion of Gentiles provided by a New Testament scholar. Two writers from Germany and Japan put the discussion of church growth beyond the borders of North America-a healthy addition!
A historian writes about the spiritual awakening in India in 1905-06 and the way in which Mennonite missionaries at Coimbatore were affected. It is commonplace to claim that church growth requires the work of the Holy Spirit. Moderns and Post-moderns who are occupied with techniques might do well to revisit Coimbatore for help on church growth.
The Spring issue will be devoted to a report on a three-year research project on “Caregiving Within the Congregation.”