Meanwhile the church throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and was built up. Living in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers. - Acts 9:31
You probably don't ever have these conversations where you are (cough, cough), but the church people I hang out with spend a fair amount of time thinking, reading, and talking about plans or programs designed to get the church to grow. Screens or no screens. Small groups or leadership training. One kind of music or another kind. And whatever the attractive program or plan is, it must lure the elusive “young family,” seldom seen in the wild and not easily captured.
What if church growth, though, was less about a plan or a program and more about an orientation, an attitude, a way of being? What if the most attractive feature of your church to young families (and old singles and all the configurations of humanity in between) was that you had the kind of true peace that confronted conflict in a healthy, unafraid way? What if the most appealing growth plan was a commitment to faith so unabashedly reverent that it looked something like awe? What if the best church growth program of all was a community of people giving and receiving the kind of comfort that can only be inspired by the Holy Spirit?
I mean, I don't know if it would work. But if your church is anything like mine, you've tried everything else. Maybe the plan we've been seeking has been with us all along, hidden in plain sight right here in the thirty-first verse of the ninth book of Acts.
Holy Spirit, give us comfort. Christ, grant us awe. Creator God, bring us peace. Amen.
Small Group Discussion
Jennifer Brownell is the Pastor of First Congregational Church of Vancouver, Washington, and the author of Swim, Ride, Run, Breathe: How I Lost a Triathlon and Caught My Breath, her inspiring memoir.