Sunday, February 25, 2007

CGM=Church Growth Methodolgy

For your further enjoyment, here are a baker's dozen of theses I sketched out about CHURCH GROWTH METHODOLOGY (CGM).

1. CGM makes outreach and church planting so expensive and complex that many Christians and congregations have no chance to succeed. The Gospel, on the other hand, requires only voices to speak and feet to carry it where it is needed. God's Word does it all.

2. CGM makes a false distinction between "nurture" and "outreach" ministries. It does not recognize that all preaching of Christ must be a preaching of repentance. Christians are always sinner-saints, and must always be “evangelized” with Law-Gospel ministry, because of the sinful Adam in each of us. Much CG ministry does not focus on repentance but reduces evangelism to “sharing good news” and nurture to “celebration services.” This "Gospel Reductionism" does not make disciples.

3. CGM selectively targets the ministry to types of people who are statistically "more receptive" to its message. This procedure, pioneered by cults, disobeys Christ's command to teach all nations and to scatter the seed on all types of soil. We cannot foretell or determine where God's Word will bear fruit.

4. CGM is enthused about “human care ministries” and schools, because they can be used to attract (maybe even buy) a listening ear—not as an act of disinterested Christian love, or an opportunity to teach. This creates a credibility gap. The result is “bread Christians” or “tuition-break Christians” who will fall away the moment the ministry has served out its usefulness to them. Meanwhile, how are you using your opportunity to "witness" to them? Are you still waiting to break the full truth of God's Word to them? Some "ministry"!

5. CGM proposes to “make Christians first and worry about Lutherans later,” or to hold back on “Lutheran distinctives” for a while. When does “later” come? How will our Christians feel when we finally reveal what we’re really about? Since when does Lutheranism teach anything but the pure Word of God? If it does, how better to make Christians than to teach Lutheranism? If it doesn't, then why are we here?

6. CGM canvasses the community for their interests and desires, then tries to serve up what the community wants. Where is discipleship? Where is the call for repentance? Where is the transfer from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light? When we’ve done such a good job reflecting the people, where does God come in?

7. CGM contradicts its own statistics, which show that Church Growth happens when members invite friends and neighbors to their church where sound doctrine is preached well. The classic CG methods aren’t a factor in real Church Growth!

8. CGM disregards the church’s history, theology, and traditions; but since no church can exist without them, it starts from scratch with brand-new traditions, teachings, and historical perspectives that will not stand the test of time...still less the other kinds of tests that are sure to come.

9. CGM disregards the pastoral ministry as if it is only one possible model among many, and not the one instituted by God. Without a distinct sense of a shepherd tending a flock, the church collapses into a network of therapy/support groups whose competing agendas and constituencies will consume and divide the church.

10. CGM disregards the means of grace and distrusts the Holy Spirit, relying on man instead and cutting the Church off from her real source of power. It is a Reformed discipline that will make mainstream Protestant churches of everybody, differing only in “signature ministries.”

11. CGM declares that “style doesn’t matter” in regard to worship, but at the same time insists that the style you must adopt to make CG happen is “contemporary.” However, this reduces the message to cheap cliches and demotes worship to music theatre, lacking the integrity and reverence that mean “church” to most people.

12. CGM begins its theology at Matthew 28:18 rather than, say, John 3:16. This turns the Gospel into Law and has all kinds of other as-yet-unexamined effects on theology. By making CG the end-all it creates ministries exclusively devoted to making “new Christians” but without any established membership to assimilate them, mentor them, or retain them. They recognize this but as yet do not view it as a major weakness.

13. CGM declares that if we are on fire with passion to save the lost, we must craft a church environment where unbelievers will fit right in - a "nonthreatening" place that will not offend or alienate them. This can only be done if the church becomes unbelieving as well. And when CG methodologists declare (as one pastor did in my hearing) that they would sooner offend 100 churchgoers than 1 unchurched person, they are signaling that their church is no place for a Christian to be.

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