Starting a church | GLI

There’s a terrible belief that if your church can simply become more “cool” than it currently is, then thousands of people will want to come to your church. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Relevance is important, but it is not the key to growing a church. Honestly, a lot of what passes as “relevance” in our churches is simply just a bunch of Evangelical religious leaders trying too hard.

Now “cool” might be an old term. The typical terms that grab the most air time today vary from “contemporary,” to “relevant,” to “seeker-sensitive,” etc…and the list could continue. I’m often asked if our church plant (Restored Church) is a “contemporary” church – to which I reply, “Of course it is! It’s existing in 2015…EVERY church that still exists today is a contemporary church because it exists NOW!”

I know what’s behind that question though. When someone asks, “Is your church a contemporary church?” – they’re trying to discover how far we’re willing to go to be “relevant” to our modern American culture. But our job is not to make the Bible relevant; our job is to show how relevant the Bible already is!

Here’s the truth: you won’t grow a God-honoring, Jesus-centered, Spirit-filled, successful, missional church by simply trying to be “cool.” It won’t work. Ever since Jesus began building his church, being “cool” has NEVER been the goal! The goal is to make more & better followers of Jesus. And at the end of the day, the most effective way to accomplish the true mission of the church is to genuinely love and care for people the way Jesus did and does. We effectively make more & better followers of Jesus by caring for people like Jesus did and does.

I heard the Scottish apologist David Robertson speak at Alistair Begg’s pastor’s conference in Cleveland, OH this year along with Tim Keller. David told a story about an encounter he witnessed between an old Scottish vicar (reverend) and a European Goth kid. The old Scottish pastor was dressed in his traditional garb – long robe, religious jewelry, and formal attire. He was calling out to the people passing by using antiquated church language that no one would understand.

To sum up: he seemed to be wildly out of touch with his culture & the realities of ministry in 2015. But David couldn’t believe that this young Goth kid with a massive Mohawk, piercings in every body part, and sleeve tattoos was interacting with this old Scottish pastor. David returned to this church another time only to discover that these two were talking again! David couldn’t believe it. He went up to the old Scottish pastor and asked him, “Why on earth does this Goth kid keep coming to talk with you?” The pastor responded, “Oh it’s very simple. I just asked him how his Granny is doing…”

No ministry strategy will ever be more effective than genuine care, concern, and love for the people that God sends our way. We could have the best worship band. We could become better preachers than Billy Graham. The assimilation strategy could flow better than any expert would advise. Our teams could work harder than any church leadership team in history. We could pray, and give, and serve, and do EVERYTHING we can to grow a church…but if we don’t care about people: really, truly, sincerely care – then we’ll never really be successful as Christian leaders. And I’m pretty sure the Apostle Paul said something along these lines in 1st Corinthians 13.

Want to grow a successful church? Let care become the new “cool.”

– Dan Nichols