Introducing… The Church Growth Translation of the Bible!

CGDo you want to grow your congregation? It’s simple! Just follow these two easy steps.

1) Read the Bible.

2) Do the exact opposite.

See! Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

But don’t worry, if you’re so apathetic to the Bible that you won’t even bother cracking it open to figure out what not to do, look no further: The Church Growth Study Bible has arrived! It is guaranteed to help you grow your church (or at the very least, to guilt your congregation into giving more money) or your money back, guaranteed!

Now we don’t want to give all of our secrets away (since it’s really your money we’re after), but we’re going to give you a free taste so you keep coming back for more. Now, rule #1 of church growth is that you get yourself the most charismatic pastor you can find. You need a pastor who oozes so much charisma he looks like an oiled-up Matthew McConaughey. And make sure you hire a pastor who doesn’t care very much about doctrine. That will cause nothing but conflict and drive people away. You want a pastor who’s affirming, who accepts everyone just as they are, and—this is really important—never talks about sin or preaches repentance.

Under no circumstances are you to allow him to dress like pastor. You can avoid this by purchasing him a full wardrobe of business casual clothing from Banana Republic. For you smaller congregations that haven’t figured out how to bring in the dough yet, Old Navy will do. He should be expected to mostly wear designer T-shirts with a cardigan or sportcoat. Skinny jeans are a must.

Finally, always audition you pastor before hiring him (or her). Trial sermons are essential. Best of all would be to live together for a little while before you make any real commitment. After all, God wants you to be sure you’re compatible, and the Holy Spirit isn’t a particularly good matchmaker.

These brilliant insights are all found in, you guessed it: The Church Growth Translation! This is the exact opposite of what St. Paul teaches in 1 Timothy 3. Take a look:

An overseer must be authentic, down to earth, easy to get along with, a “people person”, winsome, have a nice smile and good sense of humor, tell lots of cute stories in sermons, be easygoing, more charismatic than that Dos Equis guy, not care too much about doctrine, and avoid conflict at all costs.

dos-equis-most-interesting-guy-in-the-worldThe second rule of Church Growth is like the first: like pastor, like congregation. Monkey see, monkey do. A congregation must be “all things to all people.” If the people’s felt needs aren’t your #1 priority, you might as well close the doors right now.

If it’s drugs people want, give it to them! Sex? No problem; the baptismal font makes for great waterplay! Someone into extreme ironingbadger tossing, human-baiting, or contemporary worship? That’s cool. Above all, people must be made to feel welcome. Check out what the CGT has done to Ephesians 5:

Husbands, hate your wives, as Christ hated the church and did not give Himself up for her, that he might leave her exactly as she is, to perish in her sins, because it’s much better for people to feel welcome than to risk offending them by that unwelcoming liturgy, with its obnoxious, hateful insistence that there is something terribly, horribly wrong with us. God loves us just as we are. All of that business about the cross was just for dramatic effect.

And, if you happen to belong to a church body that insists on celebrating the Sacrament, please be courteous and give Jesus every other week off. He’s a busy guy, you know. Santa gets 364 days off between jobs, and he doesn’t even have to be everyone at once! So please be considerate; Jesus isn’t as young as He once was.

It’s not like the Sacrament really matters anyway. The main thing is that we come and sing about how lucky God is because we’ve given Him our hearts, get some shut-eye during the sermon, and eat cookies. Plus, you’d hate for the Sacrament to become less effective at forgiving sins due to overuse. Just like the CGT of Acts 2:42 says:

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, and prayers. As for the breaking of the bread, that was something they only celebrated every other week. If you do it weekly (or God forbid more often!), it will become meaningless, just like the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, and prayer.


Introducing… The Church Growth Translation of the Bible! — 33 Comments

  1. Don’t forget the CGT version of James 4:4, “You close-minded people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is a-okay with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself good with God because it shows he has a heart for the lost.”

  2. This is funny…and sad because it strikes close to the heart of CG thinking and pragmatism. My only complaint – that I didn’t write this. 🙂

  3. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. Well, all except for that predestination thingy.” – 2 Timothy 3:16

    “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations by contextualizing the gospel, since God’s Word in and of itself can’t possibly do what He says it will do, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you except for all that sacramental mumbo-jumbo. And surely I am with you always, in your heart.” – Matthew 28:19-20

    “[Manasseh] took the carved Asherah pole he had made and put it in the temple, of which the Lord had said to David and to his son Solomon, ‘You really need to make this place culturally relevant.’” – 2 Kings 21:7

    “Those who made a decision for Jesus were baptized to demonstrate their obedience, and about three thousand were added to their number that day – far exceeding the faith projections charted and analyzed by the Apostles.” – Acts 2:41

    Tom W.

  4. I don’t think the CGT wwould say husbands hate your wives.

    I think it would say “Husbands love your husbands”

  5. @Reaper #7
    Actually his congregation worships the Triune God. It’s the people he’s mocking who “worship people” (i.e. numbers; butts in the pew and bucks in the plate.)

    -Matt Mills

  6. You’re right, he might look like a real failure if it wasn’t for that straw-man he keeps managing to beat up on. Eric wins again!

  7. @Matt Mills #9

    (i.e. numbers; butts in the pew and bucks in the plate.)

    The few times that I have visited the epicenter of 5-2, the first (butts in the pew) has nothing to do with the latter (bucks in the plate). This is also why most (if not all) CG churches are on life support from the districts. How a church that has six (6) pastors on staff is able to maintain a “mission” status I will never understand.

  8. @Reaper #7

    Probably only worships 50 because people can’t find the church because the website to that church is not functional. But he can quickly point you to his blogs and Facebook pages. I hope there is someone in his life that he respects that can gently tell him his time may be better spent on things that build up the kingdom of God instead of mocking those he doesn’t agree with. What is the point of this article? It is the same thing you have been posting day after day.

  9. Our Lord warns us to beware of false prophets who come in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves (St. Matthew 7:15). The purpose of this article is to expose church growth for the wolf that it is. If that isn’t edifying to the Kingdom of God, I don’t know what is.

  10. To all,
    A Blessed and Most Holy Easter season to all, especially as many are sitting down and preparing final touches on our services.
    May the Lord in our trouble time shine through (He always does).
    May our pastors and leaders be guided by the Holy Spirit.
    Must sign off until after Easter, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil, and Easter Sunday, all loom ahead.
    But what a joy to sit in His House, to hear His Word.
    And perhaps by His Spirit guiding, touch the soul of someone perishing in their sin, they without the Hope and Salvation that will be accomplished at the Cross.

  11. @Elke #13

    Ironic that in your post rebuking him for mocking, yet you mock the church websites that I found to actually function quite well and much better than many others. One even lists directions to the church from different locations. Perhaps they could use some updating, but I know of very few churches that don’t struggle with keeping websites up to date.

    Not that I’m saying it should be the first course of action, but mocking is not unknown in Scripture either: Elijah and Paul for example.

    Why are so many missing or ignoring the point being made? When you put church growth theology into Scripture, it doesn’t make sense. One can see immediately that something is wrong.

    In the Lutheranism 101 workbook there is something similar. In one question the class is told to replace the word “receive” with “accept” in a few verses. Some might see this as mocking decision theologians, but it made the point very well. The class immediately realized that something is very wrong with decision theology.

    Also, comments about how big or small his church is, how much time he writes online for the edification of his congregation and the church at large, and criticizing his church’s website only strengthens his argument as far as I’m concerned. We’re so often focused on all the wrong things.

  12. @Pastor Eric Andersen #15

    I really feel the badge of honor for some of the pastors on here is how small their congregations are. Get rid of the ravenous wolves who might like an occasional praise song. Matt Mahers Amen is my favorite at the moment. God has enough grace for me 🙂

  13. Actually I would like to apologize to you pastor. The comments I made are exactly what I wish would stop. We are all on the same team. Ok maybe not team but league…Happy Easter and may you and your family have a great weekend.

  14. If only Jesus had amassed such large followings in order to measure His great success… oh yeah, as tomorrow will show, almost everyone abandoned Him.

    Seriously glad that you apologized Elke. Pr. Andersen does a great job here at BJS, on Steadfast Throwdown, and his congregation loves his work among them also.

  15. Maybe some Lutheran pastors should read their bible more carefully
    they say Jesus ripped off the flesh of this opponents and Elijah mocked people.

    Jesus railed against the Pharisees and Elijah mocked the prophets of Bael.

    Lutherans use their polemics and mocking on other Christians. Honestly, do some of you even know Jesus and his spirit at all?

  16. I liked the satire for the most part because all the things it is condemning are obviously wrong, and if anyone does them, they should stop. If you’re not doing them, you’ve got no reason to take offense. One exception. The every-Sunday communion thing had no business being lumped with the rest. There are plenty of Lutheran congregations that celebrate the Lord’s Supper every other week and yet are committed to the scriptural teaching on the sacraments and the power of the Word. They need patient encouragement, not to be lumped in with people who care more about money and numbers than the gospel. To impugn pastors or congregations who do not have every-Sunday communion, to lump them together with church-growthers, is wrong. And frankly, it’s disrespectful to many good Lutherans, many of our fathers in the LCMS.

  17. @thyrymn #6

    Let’s be realistic. “Hate” is not an appropriate term. I think “Husbands, LEAVE your wives” is better. Or how about “Husbands IGNORE your wives?” Or maybe “Husbands, have a few wives?”

    And then there’s “Wives, ignore your husbands” or “Wives, belittle your husbands” for Ephesians 5:21.

  18. @Elke #13

    What is the problem with “only” 50 people in worship? With that comment, you’ve proven Pr. Anderson’s point–it’s all about the numbers. Our congregation has 50 people in worship, give or take a few, each Sunday. We are fed and nourished with Law and Gospel, taught and instructed faithfully. I wouldn’t go any place else.

  19. Pastor Anderson, thank you for including the issue of Holy Communion in your post. Too many congregations still use the very excuse you mocked — that It won’t be as meaningful. Most of the members of my own congregation trot out this excuse, as well as possible decreased attendance and offerings, and even the possibility of losing members; overworking those who have to prepare/clean up Communion ware; and my “favorite,” that the children will get bored and can’t sit still that long. We are not a CoWo congregation and talk about what CoWo congregations are missing out on. Quite a bit of irony there, no?

    I work hard at not being bitter, and there are a small number in my congregation who would like to see Communion offered more frequently. But a sheep on a once-a-month starvation diet can get mighty grumpy.

  20. Numbers are entirely irrelevant to this post. It’s not about bashing large churches or extolling small ones. It’s 100% about being faithful, period. Sometimes faithfulness results in growth (my congregations have been blessed in this way thus far). Sometimes it doesn’t. Thy will be done! The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord.

    But if you want to cite statistics, make sure they aren’t false. My two congregations are packed every single time we meet, so much so that I can’t even count them all.

    “But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering,
    and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect,
    and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.”
    (Hebrews 12:22-24)

    Kind of hard to join voices with “angels, archangels, and the whole company of heaven” if they aren’t there, isn’t it?

  21. I serve a very small congregation that has less than 50 members worshiping on a Sunday. We also live in an area where there are over a dozen of Lutheran congregations within 15 miles of us. So, the problem lies in that there are plenty of churches out there, and in a rural area, most people belong to the church their family belonged too. With the emptying of rural America, there are less people to “go around” (if you know what I mean).

    Finally, what is a suitable number of people worshiping? Is there a certain amount that will “prove” the pastor is saying and doing the right things? Got a Bible passage to back your assertion up?

  22. @T-rav #17

    Agree-links worked nicely for the websites.

    Also need to remember that in a lot of churches, the websites are run by and updated by either the pastor or a church member doing it for free. So, anything that is done is welcomed, should it not be?

  23. Most of what I post on BJS was originally written for use in my congregations in some form or another or is my way of working out something I experienced in pastoral ministry to my congregations. If it’s good for them, I figure it’s good for the church at large.

    Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of comments that don’t engage the points I’m making at all but rather are mean-spirited. That only further justifies the truthfulness of what I write. Those who disagree with me but can’t argue with what I’m saying resort to name calling. Go right ahead, but don’t expect any further response from me. This is as much as I’ll give you.

    I write nothing in malice. Unfortunately, I think sometimes people import their own baggage onto my words. I try to be careful in what I say and write. I mock, but I do so out of love. I want those who promote this sort of nonsense to see the error of their ways and knock it off. Obviously I’m exaggerating in this post to make a point- that’s how satire works.

    As far as weekly communion- I agree. What’s needed is patient catechesis. However, I have no use for the particular mentality I’ve criticized in the article. I know it’s out there, because I have had people say that to my face more times than I can remember. The notion that the Sacrament is less effective or special due to frequency is a ridiculous, theologically faulty argument and needs to be exposed as such. If that mentality is out of place in this article, it’s only because the church growthers I know- God bless them- seem to value the Sacrament more than many less progressive Lutherans I know. In fact, almost every megachurch I know celebrates weekly communion.

  24. @Pastor Eric Andersen #32

    Thanks for the reply, Pastor. The “more special” argument is indeed sickening. May God bless us with a constant yearning for Jesus’ body and blood given into death for our forgiveness.

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