Do 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.
The 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 ironing, badger 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.