A Bible Reading: Matthew 13. 31 – 33 He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.”
He told them still another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.”
Having recently been on the Leading your Church into Growth course (LyCiG), I discovered a reference to DNA in the manual. I am not a great scientist, so I decided to look up the scientific definition. DNA stands for ‘deoxyribonucleic acid’, which is the hereditary material in humans and almost all other organisms. Our DNA, carrying all the genetic instructions for life, is unique and identifies us as who we are. It also contains the natural ingredients to ensure that we grow, develop and reproduce.
Biology and nature teach us that all healthy living things grow. In church terms, our DNA carries all that we need for a healthy vibrant church, including growth (mission), development (discipleship), and reproduction (making new disciples). It’s worth considering what might help the church to grow in this way and what might hinder its growth.
Alongside the scientific definition, LyCiG offers another helpful one: Desire, plaN, Action. To grow effectively as a church, we will need to do something to help the growth process. Rather than acting on lots of random good ideas, it is more helpful to have a clear plan. This can help us differentiate between good ideas and the right idea for our church at the right time and in the right place.
However, before acting on the plan, it is important to have the desire to grow the church. Without desire, the DNA of church growth becomes NA (slang for ‘no’) or N/A (‘not applicable’)! Just like yeast permeates the dough and makes a whole batch rise, a conscious desire to grow must permeate the whole of church life. Not only will this lead to planning and action, it will also lead to change. This is where we may experience a few ‘growing pains’.
Over the past two years, Covid-19 has forced many changes within the church through the lockdowns and restrictions. Out of necessity, we have embraced those changes and found different creative ways of worshipping, studying, and supporting one another pastorally. As we learn to live alongside Covid, it is understandable to want church life to simply return to the apparent security and familiarity of how it was pre-Covid, but this will not nurture healthy growth. Let us now use the openness to change and the need for flexibility to explore new ways of being church, and let us see how God will rebuild his church in the coming year.
The LyCiG Prayer for Growth
God of mission, who alone brings growth to your Church. Send your Holy Spirit to give vision to our planning, wisdom to our actions, joy to our worship and power to our witness. Help our churches to grow in numbers, in spiritual commitment to you, and in service of our local community, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Come set your rule and reign