I'm so interested in church growth and reaching young unchurched people. I've read books, taken classes and attended seminars, but I'm unable to translate their success into my own ministry, at lest on a large scale. While in Oklahoma one of the two little churches I served grew and had significant changes, but since being at my current appointment we've not. Which causes me to wonder...is it the pastor or the people that make a church grow. Now before any of you have the chance to say "neither, its the Holy Spirit." let me say you are absolutely correct, but in all practicality there is some kind of incarnational thing happening in the church that allows the Spirit to work. Does that come from the pastor, or the congregation?
I suppose it's a bit of both, but I'm leaning towards the later. I think a lot of it comes down to the people in the congregation. Are they warm? What kind of reputation does the church have in the community? What do they value and do they really value what thy say they value, i.e "we value children, but we have no children's ministry." Pastors come and go. We set the tone, we vision cast, we delegate and lead by example, but if a church is to grow all those things must be second to the hospitality of a church. If I were to plant a church the thing I would focus most on would be hospitality. You can get by with average music, average preaching, average programing, but not with average or worse, poor hospitality. Hospitality is the key tenant to a growing faith community. God hates inhospitality. God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah for their inhospitable ways and it seems like so many of our churches are experiencing this same kind of judgement for their inhospitality. I hope to change the culture of inhospitality in my own churches so that we can grow.