“I am again in the pains of childbirth”

Here (4:19) the apostle Paul speaks of his struggle to mature the church in Galatia. Every parent will testify that raising a child is infinitely harder than conceiving one. This principle is true when it comes to caring for a congregation of the Lord’s people. Starting one isn’t nearly as difficult as it is to nurture one to a healthy maturity. As in good parenting, this comes only by commitment and sacrifice.

This was the subject of the meeting of church leaders last Friday. There were thirty present representing eleven congregations in the Greater Recife area. Josh taught the lesson on the “Life-Cycle” of a congregation (Birth-Infancy-Adolescent-Adulthood-Maturity-Retirement-Death) and how the four factors of Vision, Relationships, Ministries and Administration are emphasized differently in each phase. A church is planted with a big emphasis on Vision (the mission to evangelize the community). Later the Relationships among the members become the driving force. Sometime later, the Ministries offered by the church keeps people involved. As a congregation ages, it emphasizes Administration (managing recourses) over the other three.

If the congregation’s vision is allowed to leak away, the members will lose sight of their calling. Left unchecked, the congregation will eventually move to the last stage of death (remaining members go somewhere else). To revitalize an aging congregation, the Vision has to be periodically renewed. This can be done every 5-10 years for as many times as the church is willing, thereby extending the life of that congregation. If it’s never done, it will live out its normal lifespan in 40—60 years (or so).

After the meeting the leadership of three of area churches came to Josh and asked him to do an all-day seminar at their congregation on this subject.