While working in industry, I had the opportunity to plan various budgets and forecasts. One forecast of particular interest was the sales forecast because an organization bases much of its operating budget on what they project their sales will be in the coming year. Often two terms would be used during the planning process--“organic growth” and “inorganic growth”. Inorganic growth came primarily from mergers and acquisitions; i.e., growing your organization by purchasing other companies. Organic growth is what we generally think of as “growth”—increasing the number of customers or persuading existing customers to purchase more. In the church, it seems, sometimes we lump these two terms organic and inorganic growth together, but maybe we should ponder on this. I often remind members that having Christians move into our area and transfer membership is not exactly growth. It would be similar to inorganic growth perhaps, but it would not be organic growth. Organic growth would be finding those who are lost and persuading them to obey the gospel or getting existing members to do more in the service to the Lord. One wonders how our growth numbers would look like if we merely looked at the number of baptisms or restorations in a year compared to the attendance board?
Achieving growth is challenging! One of the challenges is getting a congregation to think seriously about growth. Some are good at talking about growing, but do their actions reflect the talk? Have you ever met someone that said “We are happy with the size our congregation. We do not need to grow.” That is a very dangerous attitude! We are commanded to evangelize, to save souls - in other words, grow in number! But how do we get a congregation to think about growth, much less be energized into action? Once they are energized and motivated to action, how do we convert this energy into action plans? One resource I would like you to consider is David W. Hamrick’s latest book Waking the Sleeping Giant – Proven Church Growth Principles and Strategies For Reviving Struggling Churches. David and I have known each other for several years, and I have been very impressed with his work in missions. Currently, David is the President of the World Bible Institute (www.worldbibleinstitute.com) which offers online training for preachers and church leaders. He also served nine years with Bear Valley Institute as their Director of Extension which set up satellite schools. Perhaps you are unfamiliar with World Bible Institute but have heard the name of J. J. Turner. J. J. Turner is on the Board of Directors of World Bible Institute. David Hamrick has helped establish preaching schools and colleges on six continents. He has done local work for several years. David’s credentials are well worth your consideration of his book! He also designed a study guide for the book, which may be used to facilitate a class at your congregation. David also has some availability to conduct a Church Growth Workshop. Knowing David Hamrick, I am certain you will appreciate the time spent with him and be able to tap into his experience to help the congregation where you are. David’s words ring true when he wrote: “There is no doubt that every Christian who loves the church has a burning desire to see her grow. You want the borders of God’s kingdom to expand worldwide. Though you cannot convert the world by yourself, you can, however, turn things around where you are” (p. 11.) The book is filled with scriptural references and applications. As brother J. J. Turner wrote in the Forward: “This dynamic book should be read, studied, and applied by every congregation. It will be a blueprint for igniting a revival fire as the sleeping giant wakes up. If you want to help the church grow, this is the book for you.” Perhaps this book and study guide will help start the congregation thinking, talking and then working towards growing the body of Christ where you are.