Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Church Growth and Christian Ethics

In yesterday's post, I brought up the subject of ethics and evangelism. Here's a follow-up.

Sixteen years ago I was a student in Dr. Evertt Huffard's "Church Growth" class at Harding Graduate School of Religion. One of the class hand-outs was a single page with the title: Biblical Principles for the Ethics of Church Growth.

I still remember how this short list impressed me at the time. Since then, I've tweaked the language a bit and made it a little more my own. Here's the latest revision:

Principle 1: Ethics of Ownership and Responsibility

The church belongs to Christ, and not to people. Every Christian, each member of the body of Christ, is under ethical obligation to responsibly use his or her talents, resources, opportunities, and gifts to keep the Lord's body healthy, reproducing, and serving.

Principle 2: Ethics of Motivation

Every Christian is motivated by divine love to honor God among all nations. Because "selfism" and manipulation are not characteristic of the divine nature, the Lord's servants refuse to exploit people for personal benefit. The primary motivation for church growth then becomes sacrificial service for the glory of God.

Principle 3: Ethics of Methodology

God has always been faithful to his own nature in redeeming humanity. Likewise, his servants do not use means that are not in harmony with the divine nature. Both our methods and our goals in church growth are subject to divine judgment.

Principle 4: Ethics of Personal Relationships

People are more important than things. The interest in church growth, therefore, is not the expansion of an institution but the reconciliation of men and women to God and to others.

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As I read those words again these days, all sorts of passages from the Bible come to mind. I think that this is something churches could flesh out in order to teach and guide its would-be evangelists.

What do you think?

1 comment:

kendanley said...

I'd keep that handout. Hopefully, you'll need to make copies.