I’ve read several of Gary McIntosh’s books, but I found Biblical Church Growth very interesting. Mostly, because I was raised spiritually in a movement that tends to shy away from anything formulaic and seek to rely on the leading and power of the Holy Spirit. So a book even by this title would get the kind of treatment that the Book of Mormon would get 🙂 However, I found this book to be totally the opposite of my conceived notions. This book has a way of walking the line between recognizing that “useless the Lord builds the house, the laborers labor in vain” and that God also uses systems and structure to facilitate he addition of new believers into a church.
The books lays out 9 characteristics of churches that God blesses with growth. I was amazed by the wonderful exegesis of the early church and honestly, I didn’t find anything wrong with the book and was challenged by it. The book is very careful not to lay out methods or techniques. Instead, it talks in terms of characteristics and the heart of the church.
There’s several take-aways for me, but here’s the biggest one: God has called us to be faithful and fruitful. God cares about lost people. His Son died for them. So to sit back and say, “God has called me to be faithful to teach the Bible and that’s it, is nothing short of a complete cop out of your responsibility as a Pastor!”
God calls Pastors and church planters to communities to reach the lost and build them up in the faith. If we get stuck in the mentality that we’re just here to “entertain” Christians with our vast Bible knowledge (intersting how there’s all kinds of talk about churches entertaining non-christians to get them in the door, but little talk of churches entertaining Christians with messages that don’t move us to act and live out our faith), then we’re quite mistaken. We are called to teach God’s people the Scriptures absolutely. But we are saved to serve and to send laborers into the harvest. Friends, discipleship isn’t knowing a bunch of stuff. Discipleship is constantly learning and that learning constantly moving us to put our faith into action.
This book was refreshing and challenging for me. It was balanced and written from a Pastoral perspective. I recommend that Pastors read it. You may not agree with everything. But there’s plenty of meat on the bone to make it worth your while.