Infant to adolescent church growth


Mark Driscoll’s Confessions of a Reformission Rev. (see a full review on Challies.com) has given me loads of food for thought and encouragement. As a result of reading it, I’ll keep going with two strands of ministry. First, Christ centred systematic bible preaching. Second, setting up teams with the same aim of introducing people to Jesus as he walks off the pages of the bible.

I’ve made some great blunders in my first year as a vicar and so Driscoll’s opening comment:

Confessions of a Reformission Rev

I have made so many mistakes as a pastor that I should be pumping gas for a living instead of preaching the gospel.

and this one:

After much work and many mistakes, we had finally grown to the adolescent phase of church [p96]

remind me that it’s not about the pastor’s perfection but humility, vision, focus and biblical determination to make Christ known.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog you’ll know that one year into being a vicar we’re trying to put clear and simple structures in place with the right people. There is a difference between the church plant which Mark Driscoll began and taking on a congregation with a history. It takes time to make cultural and structural changes in an existing church which might or might not bear fruit for Christ.

I don’t know how long I have to make these changes, it might depend on the patience of the people in church. However, Driscoll says:

Adolescence is achieved after the long and painful season of doing the hard work it takes to get a church functioning with healthy system, competent leaders, and clear expectations of its people. This season is marked by a number of critical beginnings, such as getting the wrong people out of the church and getting the right people to commit to the church and doing whatever it takes to accomplish the mission. Getting to this phase is exhausting, and if the leaders’ plans fail, they lose credibility and the church settles into a lethargic state of decline.

This is not a comment about the relative maturity of individual church members as there are lots of mature Christians at Holy Trinity. It is a comment about making systems which work together in mission.

I am exhausted. There’s lots of systems which need to be set up and maintained. I don’t know how long this will take, especially I think slowly about structures and struggle to convene team meetings. Another church leader said to Amanda that it took him seven years to get the right team and systems in place in a semi-rural church. It would be great if adolescence didn’t last that long, my kids will be teenagers soon, I don’t want to go through both phases together!

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