"3. An Outward Focused Church Ultimately Creates the Healthiest Insiders. So what creates a healthy church? Many factors, but outward focus is non-negotiable. It's a bit of a paradox, but an outwardly focused church ultimately creates the healthiest insiders. Why is that? An inherent part of the Christian faith is death to self. And that also means death to selfish preferences. In an insider-focused church, no one sacrifices anything for the sake of others, because people believe others ought to sacrifice to please them." -- Carey Nieuwhof
What utter ridiculousness. An outwardly focused church means that the church markets to those who are not saved. They call them "unchurched" so as to not offend them. It is quite telling and disturbing that this is the non-negotiable item. The purpose driven church movement has successfully stolen the church from the sheep and now they draw a line in the sand over it and say returning it is non-negotiable. Then to lend an appearance of piety over it, Nieuwhof butchers the biblical concept of dying to self. Dying to ourselves has nothing to do with living for other people. It has nothing to do with deference to the unsaved. It has to do with deference toe to Jesus Christ. We die to our old self before Jesus and live for Him now. While there certainly is the one verse regarding the Great Commission, there are far more about growing in Christ and maturing as a believer. That was why Jesus built His church. The church exists for the sake of the believers. It exists for the maturing and edification of the saints. Do we want the unsaved to attend? Sure because the church is the only place they are likely to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is the only thing that has the power to save them. An outwardly focused church is not aligned with God's Word so there is zero chance it will be healthy inside.
"4. Decline Can Happen For A Season In Healthy Churches. Like any living organism, churches go through seasons. Sometimes that means a healthy church will stall out or even decline for a season. That can be because of a leadership change, hitting a new growth barrier, the need for systems to catch up to where the church has grown, and sometimes, for no clear reason at all (some of this truly is mystery). But healthy churches recover from that plateau or decline, adjust the sails and continue on with their mission." -- Carey Nieuwhof
Once again, Nieuwhof only views church through a carnal lens of measurement. Poor attendance? You're in decline. Tithing dipped? You're in decline. It is sad that they cannot see their own indifference to God. The purpose driven church teaches pastors that it is ok to "blessedly subtract" someone out of your church if they do not like your vision. So it is ok for man to decide a sheep has to leave but if they decide on their own it is a negative statement on the church and pastor. As if God cannot be afforded the same luxury given to the purpose driven pastor. Once again, if you are focused on the Gospel and shepherding the sheep then God will take care of the increase. If it is tenfold -- praise God! If it seems nothing ever increases, - praise God! We ought to measure success by spiritual growth and not with the carnality of this world.
"5. Healthy Leaders Produce Healthy Churches. I've been leading in the local church for 20 years. We've had seasons where we've seen 30% growth year after year, and seasons where it's been flatlined. Over the last two decades, we've gone from a handful of people to over 1200 today (plus more online), with a new location launching this month. Most of the people who come to our church for the first time self-identify as having no regular church attendance background.
When I look back at almost 23 years of leadership, I see a trend. When I wasn't healthy, neither was our church. Even in seasons where our church was growing, that growth wasn't the healthiest (lots of turn over) when I wasn't the healthiest. Unhealthy leaders can't lead healthy churches. Not over the long haul." -- Carey Nieuwhof
I will not argue with the concept in general that a leader leads better when healthy but I think Mr. Nieuwhof and I are speaking about two different types of healthy. In reading other articles from Carey I know that he equates pastoral health to having enough time off, delegating pastoral duties to other people and generally absolving the shepherd from shepherding responsibilities. This is consistent with the outline of the purpose driven church as well. My sense of an unhealthy pastor is one who is more concerned with carnal measurements then the maturity of his sheep. That is the bottom line beloved. Carey Nieuwhof's theology is unhealthy. It focuses the church away from the bride of Christ in the desperate attempt to increase carnal metrics and then any increase in those metrics is somehow equated to spiritual success. Beloved, God decides the increase. God grows the church horizontally. There is a reason why He chose the shepherd imagery to describe the pastor. The shepherd holds a staff to help guide the sheep and a rod to beat away the wolves that would seek to devour them. When you preach the Gospel and shepherd the sheep you do not need a church growth consultant. You just need to be you and let God be God.
Reverend Anthony Wade -- January 11, 2018