The Thriving Church Backstory


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Very soon The Thriving Church: The True Measure of Growth will be released. I want to tell the story of how it came to be.

Churches should be growing. I believe this with my whole heart.

Models and methods of church growth abound. During my first years as a pastor, Willow Creek and Saddleback were hot. Later it was Mars Hill. Many churches copied their formulas for growth.

As I formed my own ideas of how a church should grow, I determined to be guided by truth. I looked for key passages of Scripture to instruct me.

What causes growth? How is authentic growth measured?  How does a pastor lead a growing church? What do people in a growing church do? Can my church thrive?

I kept landing in Ephesians 4:1-16. I read, reread, translated, diagrammed, researched, taught, preached, and preached again and again the principles in that text. In 25 years of pastoral ministry, this was the primary passage of Scripture that shaped my thinking about church life. It guided me in establishing goals, setting direction, and shaping ministry.

I was privileged to serve as lead pastor of two churches, one for 9 years and the other for 12. Both churches experienced growth. There were seasons of multiplication, but also maturing. My experience of pastoring through these stages of church life increased my understanding of the Ephesians 4 model of growth and what causes a church to thrive.

Three years ago the Chief Shepherd gave me a new assignment. I now equip a new generation of pastors as a Professor of Pastoral Studies at Faith Baptist Bible College. I don’t teach during the summer, so I have time to write.

I asked my friend Nancy Lohr, Acquisitions Editor at JourneyForth, for suggestions. Her response, along with some helpful guidance: “Figure out what your passion is and focus on that.”

And here we are.

The Thriving Church: The True Measure of Growth is scheduled for release December 6, 2019.

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