Rev. Terry Culler of Hagerstown, Md shortly after his reception into ELCM commented that he felt that ELCM should place a major focus upon establishing new congregations and reported that he had been impressed by a study on establishing churches that he felt would be good for ELCM focus. As planning for the 2nd Triennial began Rev. Culler was thus requested to speak to the ELCM Triennial on the topic of Planting New ELCM Congregations. This request was based upon his affirmation view that ELCM should focus upon establishing new congregations.
However, instead of a sole or primary focus on the assigned topic, his presentation to the Triennial focused mainly upon renewal and Church Growth in existing ELCM congregations. His presentation was very much a Church Growthist presentation. It was very similar, in the minds of those ELCM Members who came out of the former LCA, to what was known as the Key 73 Evangelism Explosion emphasis. In his (off the assigned topic) presentation, he faithfully followed a little book by Christian A. Schwarz entitled, The ABCs of Natural Church Development, 1998 Church Smart Resources. He made copies of this Church Growth booklet available to the ELCM pastors and congregational delegates attending the Triennial.
The "Overhead Projector Outline" utilized by Rev. Terry Culler during his two part presentation to the 2nd Triennial General Conference of ELCM follows this Preface. Part One of the presentation was made on Saturday morning July 16 and Part Two of the presentation was made on Saturday evening on July 16.
The presentation made some points worthy of consideration but there were also a number of items presented that were contrary to basic ELCM principles and which succeeded in producing strong debate. During commentary on the outline various emphases made were recieved as extremely offensive, especially by the members of the host congregations and to members of the ELCM Ministerium.
Rev. Culler was somewhat prophetic when he commented to me, upon arriving for registration on Friday Evening July 15, to the effect: You will probably not agree with much of what I have to say in my presentation for I do not believe we should be emphasizing traditional Lutheran Liturgy and the Lutheran Confessional documents.
My immediate response to him later to be fulfilled in formal debate before the members of the Synod You are right! If you make that your focus you will indeed find me to be in substantial Biblical and Confessional disagreement with you! Strong debate indeed did, in fact, take place between Rev. Culler one the one side and myself, the other Ministerium members and Lay delegates on the other side immediately following the conclusion of the 2nd part of his Presentation on Saturday Evening July 16. The debate continued on Sunday morning July 17 when I presented a rebuttal to several of Rev. Cullers (Christian Schwarzs) propositions. The members of the Ministerium and Lay delegates of the congregations reviewed the discussion and debate points at the concluding session of the Synod. Rev. Culler, however, did not stay for the concluding session of the Synod.
At the final session of the Triennial held Sunday Afternoon July 17 it was the consensus that the presentation and the debate which it sparked ultimately served us well in that it reaffirmed for the delegates of congregations and Members of the Ministerium several central and basic Biblical and Confessional principles held by ELCM.
Rev. Cullers Presentation "Overhead Projector Outline" which was distributed in printed form to congregation delegates and members of the Ministerium now follows for the reflection of all. Those who are familiar with the various tenets "Church Growth Movement" will not be surprised by the various points of the presentation.
Pastor Roy A. Steward, President
Evangelical Lutheran Conference & Ministerium of North America.
NATURAL CHURCH DEVELOPMENT
EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CONFERENCE AND MINISTERIUM
IMAGES OF CHURCH GROWTH
+ IT IS NOT LUTHERAN.
+ WHERE IS THE LITURGY?
+ IT USES ON MARKETING SKILLS INSTEAD OF THE GOSPEL.
+ SUPER WAL-MART IS OUR MODEL.
+ PEOPLE NEVER GET PAST STAGE 1
+ IT IS TOO MUCH ABOUT US AND NOT ENOUGH ABOUT GOD.
QUESTIONS TO ASK OURSELVES
+ DOES GOD WANT HIS CHURCH TO GROW?
+ DO WE WANT TO HONOR GODS WILL WITH OUR WORK?
+ IS IT 1960?
+ WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU WENT DOWN TO THE BOAT ANT) FOUND A BUNCH OF GERMAN LUTHERANS COMING DOWN THE PLANK?
EIGHT QUALITY CHARACTERISTIC S OF A HEALTHY, GROWING CHURCH
1. Empowering Leadership
2. Gift-Oriented Ministry
3. Passionate Spirituality
4. Functional Structures
5. Inspiring Worship Services
6. Holistic Small Groups
7. Need-Oriented Evangelism
8. Loving Relationships
4 LEADING INDICATORS OF A HEALTHY CHURCH
1. CENTRALITY OF GODS WORD
2. MISSION AND VISION-DRIVEN
3. BIBLICAL FINANCIAL STEWARDSHIP
4. CHURCH PLANTING
Ephesians 4:7, 12-16 and 2nd Timothy 2:2
+ Leadership development must be intentional
+ Identify those called to leadership by God
+ Train those people and let them lead
+ All church leaders are spiritual leaders
+ No one who is not spiritually developing should be in a position of leadership.
+ A congregation can not grow past the ability of the pastor and the leaders to care for people
LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT IN THE CHURCH
1. Being evangelized, ending in faith in Christ.
2. Being grounded in the faith through Bible study.
3. Being nurtured for maturity through interactive group Bible study.
4. Being a discipler/teacher/mentor
It is at level 4 that spiritual multiplication of leaders begins in the church.
1 Peter 4:10-11
+ All Christians are given gifts for ministry.
+ Before there is service there are gifts.
+ When we work in our area of giftedness we are working with the power of the Holy Spirit not with our own strength.
+ When pastors claim for themselves the entirety of ministry, the congregation will fail.
+ Shepherds dont give birth to sheepsheep give birth to sheep.
Ephesians 5:15-16, 6:10,18
+ We should not be afraid to offer our congregations a plan for rigorous spiritual exercises.
+ The church is full of people who have a cold and intellectual Christianity, one which will never be able to speak Gods Word to the world.
+ Passionate spirituality begins with intense prayer.
+ The pastor must focus on programs of spiritual formation in the congregation.
1 Corinthians 1:30, 2:4
+ What controls the functioning of your congregation?
+ The church has fallen for the myth of corporate organization structures.
+ We should focus on ministry teams rather - than boards and committees.
+ The functionally healthy church will concentrate on measuring the congregations success in the 8 quality characteristics.
Inspiring Worship Services
+ Inspiring worship is not a euphemism for contemporary worship.
+ Inspiring worship focuses on Law and Gospel
+ Inspiring worship is done in the language of the 21st century.
+ Measure the quality of your worship by the degree to which your people have understood the Gospel through it.
Holistic Small Groups
+ This principle has the highest correlation of any with successful, growing churches.
+ The early church was a series of small groups gathered around Gods Word of victory through Christ.
+ 5 essentials of small groups
2. Bible Study
Need Oriented Evangelism
Mark 16:15, Acts 14:21, Luke 19:10
+ A renewed congregation will be a missional congregation.
+ Lutherans are those who first called themselves Evangelical
+ Our ethnic heritage has gotten in the way of this.
+ The mission field begins at the narthex.
John 13: 34-35
+ Healthy churches are loving churches.
+ Loving relationships produce unity and accountability in our congregations.
+ This does not just happen but must be nourished.
+ It is an outgrowth of our life as a Christian community.
Centrality of Gods Word/Gospel/Grace
2 Tim. 3:16-18, Rom. 1:16, Titus 2:11-14
+Preaching and Bible study must never sacrifice theological and doctrinal soundness.
+ The healthy church has a high view of Scripture and the Sacraments.
+The unhealthy church is one which waters down the Law to avoid offense or waters down the Gospel to avoid giving the impression that salvation is cheap. It will not grow.
Mission and Vision Driven
Mall. 28:19-20; 2 Cor. 4:18; John 4:35.
+A healthy church has both a clear sense of Gods mission for them and a vision of how to accomplish that mission.
+No church will ever grow larger than its vision.
+Our vision must be Gods vision for us and it must be nurtured and held up all the time.
+Lutherans have generally poor stewardship response.
+Our giving is part of our sanctification and life as servants.
+Money is a spiritual issue.
+Consider how you do your church budget. Move from a line item budget system to a ministry-based budget system. People dont give to budgets, people give to ministries.
Acts 19:10; Col 1:6-8; 1 Thess. 1:6-8; Acts 14:24-25
+Each Evangelical congregation must be a missional congregation.
+We should not focus on how big we can build our churches but on how many people we can reach for Christ.
+Each church should have a plan for planting a daughter congregation.
+If the Evangelical faith has the purest expression of the Gospel, how dare we not work to share that.
Steps in Church Planting
+Know why youre doing it.
+Develop a plan for where youre doing it.
+Designate who is doing it.
+Develop a work plan for doing it.
Facts about church planting.
+It is a lonely task.
+The church planter must have a God-given burden if he is to succeed.
+Some places are ripe for planting, others are not. Know the difference.
+Dont count on disaffected ELCA Lutherans to make your congregation grow.
+The work is hard and the hours long.
+Talk to people who have done it before.
+Have a mentor.
be afraid to think out of the box (Who Stole My Cheese?)