The Church Growth Movement and the Megachurch Model -- By: Norman P. Anderson

Journal: Reformation and Revival
Volume: RAR 02:3 (Summer 1993)
Article: The Church Growth Movement and the Megachurch Model
Author: Norman P. Anderson


The Church Growth Movement and the Megachurch Model

Norman P. Anderson

I come to this subject as one who has studied under Dr. Donald McGavran, Dr. Peter Wagner and others at Fuller Theological Seminary. I have been privileged to pastor churches throughout my years of ministry which have grown numerically. Therefore, what I share on this subject comes out of some personal and academic involvement with the church growth movement.

The church I pastor, Elk Grove Baptist Church, is in the shadow of Willow Creek Community Church of Barrington, IL, one of the more prominent megachurches in the United States today. I have great appreciation for Pastor Bill Hybels and his unique giftedness for the ministry to which God has called him. The Lord has blessed Willow Creek Church with a unique ministry of reaching the non-churched, which has been the goal of Pastor Hybels from the outset of his ministry.

Unfortunately, Willow Creek has unintentionally siphoned many people from other smaller churches in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago. While I will touch on this matter later, I want you to know that what I write is not with personal animosity toward the megachurch.

It is my intention to approach this subject by first expressing appreciation for many contributions that have been made by the Church Growth Movement. Then I will express some concerns about what is happening within the evangelical movement today.

Some Contributions of the Church Growth Movement

1) An Attempt to Reawaken the Church to Evangelism

Dr. Donald McGavran, known as the father of the church growth movement, had a heart for winning people to Jesus Christ. He sought to get his students to see that it is God’s

will that His lost sheep be found and that they become responsible members of local churches.

The church growth movement has provided diagnostic tools to enable us to know more clearly whether or not the local church is being effective in evangelism. Analyzing church additions helps us understand whether or not those additions are simply membership transfers, or the results of evangelism. Further, are those evangelistic additions “biological” additions of children growing up in the church, or are they the results of community outreach evangelism?

Further analytical tools enable us to see what portion of a church’s resources are directed to community evangelism. Churches are often surprised to discover that most of their human resources are given to the nurture of believers, and almost nothing in the church ministry budget is set aside for direct outreach and evangelism.

2) A Refocusing Upon ...
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