Growing Healthy Churches - The Set
As the Christian Movement bravely commences its march into the 21st century, it confronts a century radically different from the preceding 100 years. New days typically demand new approaches. It stands to reason, therefore, that the processes by which Churches and congregations grow will be different in the 21st century. The question then naturally arises as to what Church Growth theory and Church Growth strategy will be like in this new century.
An immediate indication is that the emphasis on growing churches should turn, is turning and has turned from simply one of churches increasing in size to churches gaining health. One of the major new directions for church growth in the 21st Century will be the adoption of the idea of healthy churches growing in healthy ways by using healthy means. To demonstrate my own pilgrimage toward the concept of a healthy church, I will try to outline healthy church growth from the vantage of what it is, why we must consider it, and how it might be attained.
I find that the move to healthy church growth and healthy churches does not eliminate what I have long believed and practiced in regard to church growth. We must, however, adjust and add the concept of a church health. The result of thinking in terms of healthy church growth has eventuated in this study that seeks to contribute insights into new directions Church Growth can and will take in this new century.
Dr. Ebbie C. Smith is a retired professor of Christian Ethics and Missions at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, and served fifteen years as a Southern Baptist missionary in Indonesia with major responsibilities in theological education and church starting. During his ministry, Smith has had major responsibilities for teaching missiology, missionary strategy, including anthropology, church starting, church growth, and cross-cultural communication.<
Smith studied under Donald McGavran at the School of World Mission at Fuller Theological Seminary during the formative years of the Church Growth Movement. Some of his publications included God’s Miracles: Indonesian Church Growth (1970), A Manual for Church Growth Surveys (1976), and Balanced Church Growth (1984).