This is the title of a book authored by a pastor from a large church, sharing their church growth philosophy and specific strategies based on their own pastoral experience. The book explains how to transform a congregation of 200 people into a thriving community of 2,000 in just six years, serving as a guide for church management. I remember when I had just graduated from seminary, the Hong Kong church community was actively promoting the book “Purpose-driven Church” and organising seminars to learn the secrets of how the Saddleback Church became a super mega-church, especially focusing on churches stuck at the bottleneck stage, seeking ways to break through.
In the past two years, our church has also grown from over 200 people to more than 1,800 people. However, I don’t consider this to be true church growth. It seems that we have simply been doing what a church should do, especially given the influx of immigrants. There are no secrets or strategies involved, and many people even think that our welcoming work is insufficient and our care for the congregation is lacking. There are too many shortcomings in our situation: We don’t have the financial resources to hire more pastors to meet the needs of the congregation. We haven’t developed a comprehensive structure and system of management that can immediately address the spiritual needs of believers from diverse backgrounds. We also lack charismatic leaders who can capture the congregation’s attention and provide constant inspiration.
While our church has experienced an increase in numbers, it is vastly different from the kind of church growth mentioned at the beginning of this passage. I believe the church that went from 200 to 2,000 did so by fostering a cell group movement that gradually increased the numbers. Moreover, the initial 200 people were encouraged and trained, with many of them willing to step up and take on responsibilities, which led to such a significant breakthrough. In contrast, our situation is quite different. Just as the pandemic was easing, our church, which initially had few volunteers, has rapidly increased in numbers over the past two years. It’s a challenge to address the needs of such a sudden influx of 1,600 people, all of whom are essentially new acquaintances. Given MAC’s limited resources and capabilities, despite hearing many voices of concern or complaints, our fellow workers can only labour silently, accepting reluctantly the fact that we cannot respond to every request, and we continue to focus on addressing the church’s issues in order of priority.
I believe that each church has its own unique characteristics and opportunities. While churches can learn from each other, there is no one-size-fits-all strategy that can be applied universally. We may have our own experiences from past church life, with some enjoying the warm atmosphere of fellowship, while others long for the close pastoral care they once received. I believe that God has given us those wonderful church experiences not for the purpose of comparison or judgment of other churches but for us to be grateful and reflect on how we can humbly contribute those positive qualities to the church we are currently a part of, working together to build God’s family here.
I want to express my gratitude to all the volunteers who have selflessly served. To those brothers and sisters who have been attending MAC before the pandemic, I believe you have worked hard to adapt to the rapid changes in the church. I am thankful that you are willing to shoulder the increasing workload. And to those who have come to the UK in the past two years and quickly joined MAC, actively participating in ministry, I thank the Lord for leading you to share the many needs of ministry. May the Lord personally reward your labour.