I just read a fascinating article by Elizabeth Dias, “Evangelicos!” (Time Magazine, April 15, 2013), reflects the exciting growth of Hispanic evangelical churches in the United States.

If you read the article as a case study and analyze the principles and dynamics, you can mine a number of basic New Testament principles that would revolutionize stalled and declining churches.

Jesus modeled to His disciples a God-watching culture: “I only do what I see the Father doing” (John 5:19).  The approach is simple:  Take note of how God is working and do that.  The key is not adopting programmatically—I’m not suggesting you make your Anglo or African-American church speak Spanish, but note the principles.  They are biblical and universal—and they work for any church.

Diagnosing the Principles

Reading the article from the perspective of a Church Doctor analyst, the following elements are as obvious as they are familiar:

  1. De-institutionalize church—treat Christianity as a movement.
  2. De-program church—work through relational, social networks.
  3. Promote relational interaction.
  4. Speak the heart language of your target audience—language they dream in.
  5. Use the musical instruments of the culture of your target audience—as the delivery system for unchanging biblical truth.
  6. Balance the academics (preaching, teaching) with experiential.
  7. Increase the celebration dimension of biblical worship (when many churches worship, it looks like the whole crowd is baptized in vinegar).
  8. Make room for God to show up: If the God of the Bible is the God of today, anything that happened in the Bible can and does happen today.
  9. Turn your church inside out:  Make bringing people to church a distant second to the primary strategy of bringing church to people.
  10. Focus on spontaneous, relational witnessing—share “God stories”—what God is doing in your life—through social networking… and optimize use of YouTube and Facebook by the masses.
  11. Move from doing church to being church: model genuine acts of kindness with sensitivity to felt needs.
  12. Cultivate a culture of church as an attractive family—not an organizational platform to do but a relational community where you can be and belong.
  13. Have leaders operate in a New Testament posture of the priesthood of all believers (think equipping the team—Ephesians 4), rather than the Old Testament priestly approach of hierarchy.
  14. Get over the fixation on seminary graduates trained as “generals” as the only full-time paid staff and add an army of missionary-trained ground forces equipped in short-term boot camps for on-the-ground ministry.
  15. Develop an infrastructure of accountability groups who focus on prayer and spiritual formation.
  16. Raise your expectations to a God-level:  The church is supposed to grow explosively.  That’s the norm.  It’s not the “new normal.”  It’s the New Testament normal.
  17. This is not rocket science. Look at what God is doing, and get out of the way.

 

By Kent R. Hunter, Founder, Church Doctor Ministries

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