Would you like our church to grow?
I think I know most of you well enough to say that pretty much all of us would answer that question with a “Yes!”
But how do we do that? If you look at our numbers, we are half the size we were twenty years ago. And society’s trends don’t look too promising. That same rate of decline seems likely over the next twenty years. If anything, it looks like that rate might decrease. We want to grow, but we are slowly-but-surely shrinking.
For several decades, there has been a whole industry around how to grow a church. Musical styles, marketing techniques, special programming – all of these have been recommended. Many churches and entire denominations have even tried to “smoothe out” some of the Bible’s less-appealing teachings, hoping to draw a better audience.
I believe I know the secret to church growth. It is growing.
Stunning, right? Really deep stuff, that.
But hear me out. I mean that the church that will grow in size is the church that first grows in depth. The church that grows its membership rolls is first the church where each member is growing.
There are all kinds of gimmicks that might get people in the door once, or even a few times. But that’s not really the goal, is it? The goal is to grow the kingdom of God. But that is a process that happens on a deeply individual level. And it is a process that we don’t fully control. The Holy Spirit has that charge – it is the Spirit that calls us by the gospel, enlightens us with God’s gifts, gathers us together, sanctifies us, and keeps us in the true faith.
At least, that’s what we all learn from Luther’s Small Catechism.
So, I ask again: would you like our church to grow? If the answer is yes, then the follow-up question becomes: are you growing? In 2 Peter 3:18, Peter wrote to the early churches that they should “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
Does that describe you? Are you growing in grace and in knowledge? If so, then the fruits of that growth will show in your life and in your relationships. If not, pray that God’s Holy Spirit would guide you so that you would grow. It is the Spirit that controls this process, but our hearts and sins can hinder it. So pray that God would make it plain if there is any way that you are preventing the growth that God longs for all believers.
And then pray if there is any way that you could spread that kind of growth to the others in our church family. Are there ways you could serve that you aren’t already? Could you be more generous in your financial support than you have been to this point? Could you make it a point to attend events in addition to Divine Service – Adult Bible Study, Midweek Suppers and Services, Fellowship Events?
Church growth is really pretty simple. The church that grows is the church that is growing. Or, more helpfully: the church that grows in members is the church whose members are growing in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
When the growth comes this way, it is not us, but the Holy Spirit that does the work. And, as 2 Peter 3:18 concludes, when we grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, then: “To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”
Growing with you in 2018,
Pastor Rob Morris
About Our Pastor Rob Morris:
Pastor Rob Morris has just celebrated his sixth year with us having moved here to Newtown on New Years Eve 2011. Pastor Rob comes to us having earned both a Master of Divinity and a Master of Arts in Biblical Languages from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in S. Hamilton, MA.
Prior to serving at Christ the King, he was a full-time staff member at Our Savior Lutheran Church in Topsfield, MA, focusing on both the youth and worship ministries. In the Fall of 2011, he attended one semester at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Pastor Morris is joyfully married to his high school sweetheart, Christy, and July 2017 marked their 17th wedding anniversary. They have been entrusted with two wonderful boys, Elijah (who turned 11 in March of 2017) and Isaiah (who turned eight in January of 2017). As a family, they love to hike, bike, explore, read, and play music together.
In his free time, Pastor Morris loves reading, playing music (guitar, bass, drums, piano, and a smattering of other instruments), and both road and mountain biking.
Though the journey to serving at Christ the King was not a traditional one, Pastor Morris is excited to serve in such a warm and vibrant congregation. He says, “Christ the King is the perfect name for this ministry, for it is Christ who reigns by grace through his Word and Sacraments. It is also the perfect name because Christ’s reign is extended by the faithful service of his saints here at Christ the King Lutheran Church in Newtown, CT and around the world.”