Church Growth Institute News

Staying Power

In addition to growing the numbers of your congregation, it is equally important that your Church is headed by leadership that is engaged, authentic and sustainable.  As Ken Roberts aptly notes on the page announcing his newest book Staying Power, confessions among Christian leaders all reiterate that “bailout, burnout and fallout rates have never been higher, and they’re increasing every day.” 

At the Church Growth Institute, we are vitally aware of Ken’s insight, and our work speaks to not only the size of your congregation but the quality of its ministry.  We work with Church leaders, their staffs and other ministry leadership to apply the Staying Power principles to cultivate a strongly moral leadership that is invested in pastoral longevity.  These principles, when combined with CGI’s church growth consulting services, develop your Church into one that can rely on Pastors and staff who truly connect with God’s message and are enlivened to share that connection with others.

The Church Growth Institute is attuned to every facet of what successful Church growth and leadership means, from the logistics of growth to the values of leadership.  To see how CGI can help your Church become stronger, larger, more sustainable and truly resilient, email or visit us at

Martin Luther King

Martin Luther King, Jr. decided to join a church when in the middle of a revival a guest evangelist gave an invitation. "Our church was in the midst of the spring revival, and a guest evangelist had come down from Virginia. On Sunday morning the evangelist came into our Sunday school to talk to us about salvation, and after a short talk on this point he extended an invitation to any of us who wanted to join the church." (source).

Spiritual Dynamics is a factor identified by the Church Growth's Institute as key in fostering the growth of the church. In the book of James chapter 2 the Bible talks about how faith without works is dead. In Matthew chapter 5 Jesus talked about how the church needed to be salt and light in the world around it. In Genesis 15:6 Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness. The Apostle Paul talked about this also in Romans 4:9. Wikepedia reports that Martin Luther King, Sr. decided to become a preacher after being inspired by ministers who were prepared to stand up for what they believe in (source).

Martin Luther King Day was first proposed as a holiday for the United States of America in 1968 by Congressman John Conyers and Ronald Reagan signed the holiday into law after it was passed by congress in 1983 (source). The historic Ebenezer Baptist Church still stands to this day (source).

For more information about how The Church Growth Institute can help your church take a stand for what it believes in contact us by email at and on the web at

The Rock Soup Theory of Starting and Growing a Church

Do you remember this story from when you were a child?  That there was a small village somewhere and nobody had any food.  There was not enough to eat and most of the townspeople were miserable and hungry.  So one guy ?a community leader? came out and said "Hey guys, I know what I'm going to do" (or  maybe he said "I know what we'll do") let's go make some Rock Soup.

So all the townspeople chattered amongst themselves and said "what the heck is rock soup?"  I never heard of that.  That doesn't sound very tastey.

So the community leader went out and started a big bucket of Rock Soup (although it probably wasn't a bucket, it was probably a big kettle).

Water was plentiful so they took some water, put it in a very large basin, and started to boil the water.  Then the commnity leader went and washed off some rocks and plunked them into the soup.

As the community stood around and looked at this craziest thing they had ever seen, and perhaps chattered amongst themselves, the community leader said "now only if we had some carrots" that would really flavor up this rock soup.

Now at that point one of the older women who was standing in the crowd and not saying much said "well, actually I have some carrots".  So she went and cut up some carrots and propped them into the rock soup.

A Community of Faith

Communitas and Lydia House Church is a church that meets in someone's home. Pastor Paul Anderson opens his home to two groups of people, one group meets on Sunday morning and another on Tuesday night. I had a chance to visit with them recently. They meet a stone's throw away from Northwestern College / the University of Northwestern where on Sunday mornings another church, Substance Church meets at the college nearby as well.

A house church can offer an informal atmosphere, and this can go over well especially among a generation that values authenticity. The church started out meeting in the living room and later moved to the basement. A story remarkably similar to the story of Cornerstone Church, described in an article pending for publication in the January Issue of the Great Commission Research Journal. Defining Characteristics of Churches that Thrive also studied a church that began as a home meeting with just three people and grew to a church in the mega-church category.

It can be so easy to forget that the church is not a building, rather, it is a group of people. Nothing drives that point home more than a church that does not have a facility. In some places there are facilities with declining church attendance and membership. If everyone who left were to bring a piece of the roof or the wall with them it would be easier to measure the growth or decline of the church in terms of its physical facility. The church, however, is first a people, a group of people that belong to Christ and meet in his name. If one is going to plant a church, for example, it may be best to ensure a group of people will attend before purchasing a facility too quickly. A house church can be a great way to go.

For more information on various models of ministry or more information about our strategic consultation services you can reach The Church Growth Institute at and on the web at


Some churches struggle to bridge the gap with their community. Churches find that the people who attend the church often do not live in the same neighborhood as where the church facility is. Maybe they did at one time and moved away, or maybe they just found out about a church accross town and began to attend. Being outward focused is essential to fulfilling the great commission.

Pastor Harry is near completing a series of outreaches to his community he has been running all summer long. He ministers in a more urban area where there is a lot of foot traffic. There are many people in his community that are just hanging around during the evenings and are open to the idea of something to do. Pastor Harry has been showing a series of movies during the summer on the church lawn. Volunteers from the church walk around the neighborhood and invite people to come. He gathers a crowd "real time" and then shows a movie at an appointed time such as 7:00pm, 8:00pm, or 9:00pm, whenever it gets dark. He often has to work around the weather so can only tentatively plan exactly which days they will show the movie. If it rains, they reschedule, if the weather is good they continue. A number of people were significantly moved by the presentation on September 3, 2014. All in all as an outreach event I'd say it was a Home Run.

What outreach methods have you found to be effective in your context? Send us an email and let us know. For more information about how we help churches develop bridging strategies to reach their community at The Church Growth Institute, you can reach us by email at and on the web at

Starting an Organic Church Movement

I was recently at a Pastor's conference in 2014 where the speaker described the growth of his church. He stated that he started out with 700 people and has grown into a worldwide church planting network. At the end of his presentation Dave Browning asked if there were any questions. I asked how he got the first 700 of his church plant. He replied that, although he has more details about it in his book Deliberate Simplicity he described how at the end of his initial services where he met in a Lodge he would make himself available for anyone who wanted to talk after the service and usually a group of newcomers would cluster. He would stand there with a clip-board and ask who would be interested in starting a small group. He would say "we are starting a new small group" (meaning "we" those standing there right now). From this he would gather names, indentify and ask someone to be the host for this new small group, he would take it the first three to five weeks as the leader but select someone else to lead the group more ongoing. In going about it this way he utilized a multiplicative approach to ministry. Some Pastors might be good at leading a group themselves, but can they shift leadership style to help others lead as well? He indicated he started around 38 groups the first year that way and it was instrumental in growing to around 500 in his church plant. His philosophy of ministry centers around organic church building and sounded like church growth to me. This sounded like a great model of growing the church organically, especially in a startup situation.

At the Church Growth Institute we focus on how the church grows by organic movements as well and are always looking for recent models to pass along as a resource to others. Chapter One of my work Defining Characteristics of Churches That Thrive overviews how the church in its incepient phases as a movement only later becomes more recognizable as a distinguished group or institution. For more information or to schedule a consultation with the Church Growth Institute, you can reach us by email at and on the web at

Who was Hans Nielsen Hauge?

People seem to have many choices when it comes to religious affiliation and loyalty today. Part of understanding the landscape of religious options has to do with taking a look at the history of each group and movement. Pastor Frederick Thoni and Dr. David Stein have recently published Timeless Growth Principles from the Movement of Hans Nielsen Hauge: A Case Study in Pietism in the Great Commission Research Journal. This article extracts some timeless church growth principles from the life and times of Hans Nielsen Hauge who was the leader of a pietistic movement that spread throughout Norway and the midwestern United States starting around 1796 and continuing to the present day. This article explores a number of the timeless church growth principles that can be gleaned from Hans Nielsen Hauge and his movement. Order a Copy

What differentiates the Church Growth Institute?

Our approach to Church Consultation is rooted in the foundations of the work of Donald McGavran where he sought to help churches and organizations maintain their focus on the work of fulfilling the Great Commission of Mt 28:18-20. Our approach at the church growth institute stems from core theological assumptions of what Jesus asked his church and his disciples to do. Research and experts have demonstrated that churches that utilize outside help often do better than some of their counterparts that don't. Our approach balances these foundational elements with the pragmatics of "what is working today". Where the task and the mission of the church is timeless, how that mission is effectively carried out also has a lot to do with trends, culture, relevancy and other factors. At the church growth institute we keep informed of these trends and offer that expertise to local churches to help them stay at the cutting edge of what God is doing today in the task of making more and better disciples. We would love to help you and your church! To schedule a consultation, or for more information, you can reach us by email at and on the web at

Church Consulting Comes to Reality TV in 2014

Church consulting comes to reality TV in the form of National Geographic's series Church Rescue. We've had home builders on TV for a while in shows like Extreem Makeover Home Edition as well as the classic This Old House. Chef Ramsey helps straighten out restaurants that are not doing so well on Kitchen Nightmares. We have Shark Tank, a show that features the ideas of entrepeneurs and helps them find funding and startup advice. Numerous cooking shows fill the airwaves, and now Church Consulting is having its turn at reality television. It's great to see so much effort on improvement. If your church needs help consider contacting us at the church growth institute The distinctives of our approach are highlighted on our web site at