Four Essentials for Growth

Recently, a friend gave me two copies of the book, The Big Four, written by S. Joseph Kidder. Why two you ask? Well, he felt certain that I would enjoy the book and would desire to give a copy to someone. He was correct, as I am enjoying the book and deciding to whom I should give the extra copy.

The book, which is the companion to the current adult Sabbath School lesson, is a must for elders, pastors and administrators who desire to see their church and field grow; and therefore I share just four basic points, which make up the book. Do check with your local ABC to purchase a copy. Also, it is possible that a copy or two may be at your church, or you may have been given the book but did not read it.

Empowering Servant Leadership

The author, Kidder, who is a former pastor, lectures in the area of spiritual growth, evangelism and leadership at the Theological Seminary, Andrews University. Based on research, primarily in selected Seventh-day Adventist congregations in the North American Division, Kidder underscores that a major component of a vibrant church is leadership. He explains, “Growing churches have leaders –pastors, lay pastors, elders, or ministry directors – who genuinely want their congregation to grow and are willing to pay the cost.” He observed that such leaders love evangelism and posses “a strong passion for the lost and an eagerness to do anything to connect them with the heavenly Father.” Essentially, he argues that such leaders are optimistic and pray much.

Passionate and Authentic Spirituality

Kidder negates the belief that “growing churches tend to de-emphasize spirituality.” Instead, he contends that “flourishing Adventist congregations . . . emphasize spirituality often, strongly, and passionately.”

Committed and Active Laity

Notwithstanding the effectiveness of pastors within a local church, Kidder explained that it is crucial to have active lay involvement if a church is to be successful and effective. His survey of NAD churches revealed that a vast majority of members “have not won one person to Jesus Christ during their lifetime.” Quite frankly, that cannot work if a church is to grow and be vibrant. Also, his research showed that the membership in some instances “is aging and . . . congregations are struggling to attract new members and hold on to young ones.”

God-exalting Worship

Worship experience is crucial to growing congregations. To Kidder, based on his research, the style of worship is not essential. Based on his findings, what is important is “the quality of the worship experience, (and) not its placement on the traditional-contemporary continuum.” Furthermore, he states, “If the heart of the believer touches the heart of God, worship will take place. Though style is not mandatory for growth, excellence, and purpose, prayer, hope, and professionalism are vital.”

Essentially, these factors are fundamental in church growth and, as already noted, form the basis of Kidder’s book; and thus the name, The Big Four. I highly recommend it for all leaders and passionate disciples.