Lessons from church growth research
Here are 14 lessons which John Slack learned in his church growth research with congregations of the Southern Baptist Convention. This is an example of what can be learned from demographics, spreadsheets, surveys, interviews, and historical studies by analyzing the information secured from various sources.
1. New units grow faster than established churches.
2. Aging within a church almost inevitably ushers in a "come-oriented" ministry in
contrast to a "go-centered" ministry.
3. Older churches do not start as many new churches as do younger churches.
4. Churches and church planting drift upward on the economic scale.
5. The longer a church is in a community, the less like that community the church
6. Existing, established churches have normal plateau and ministry limits.
7. Only as a church effectively expands its discipleship base will it sustain
infinitely reproducible church growth and church planting.
8. More baptisms and greater membership growth occurs in zones or areas that are
farther from the existing church and its come-oriented activities.
9. The difference between so-called "responsive" and "non-responsive" peoples is not
in the average number of baptisms per church but in the number of new units --
churches -- that are started.
10. Churches in resistant cultures tend to begin as or soon become cosmopolitan
rather than community. In resistant cultures, community churches have far
greater influence on the culture than do cosmopolitan churches.
11. As beginning models of church planting, training, and materials are repeated and
age, they become hallowed -- and almost "unchangeable" -- patterns even when and
if they are no longer relevant.
12. If a lost person or people group is illiterate and poor, the chance of their
being evangelized decreases proportionately to the heights of their illiteracy
and the depths of their poverty.
13. Training in most theological programs has become more academic than functional.
14. Bible teaching, including the Sunday School and other forms of discipleship, to
be effective, must be done in the context of evangelism.