St Andrew, Glencairn

Glencairn Methodist Church

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May 2009


Thriving Churches


In his Lenten seminar series, the Bishop of Connor referred to the war between those who preferred a "traditional" style of worship and those who went for a contemporary style. This, he said, is a phony war and should be put aside. There is room in Anglicanism - even the Church of Ireland - for both. Both bring blessing and both should be practised (but not necessarily at the same time and in the same place!). A Church of England publication, Mission Shaped Church, acknowledges that "No one kind of worship can attract, much less hold, a major proportion of the varied population of this country [England]".


Furthermore, research shows that while worship is important for a church to thrive, thriving churches are found all over the liturgical spectrum. A report by CA Schwarz - Natural Church Development - has identified eight "quality characteristics" exhibited by thriving churches across the world. These characteristics are:


Empowered Leadership and empowering leadership that enables all member ministry and releases members to "attain their own spiritual maturity and potential" A key idea is "to equip the saints for ministry" (Ephesians 4: 12)


Gift Oriented Ministry wherein members identify and use their own spiritual gifts to minister


Passionate Spirituality that is demonstrated through all members being "on fire" for Jesus and his Kingdom, living committed lives and having a faith which is full of joy and enthusiasm


Functional Structures Passion is not enough. A thriving church requires Functional Structures - new wineskins for the new wine - the right balance between regimentation and free for all


Inspiring Worship which may be "bells and smells" or "guitars and drums" - it doesn't matter as long as the Holy Spirit is present to inspire and the worship is authentic and culturally accessible


Holistic Small Groups which have a worship focus, which care for one another in the group, which reach out in service and mission but which are always part of the whole church (This characteristic promotes growth more than any of the other seven.)


Needs Oriented Evangelism The local church that thrives is incarnate in its locality, identifying the needs of its local non-Christian community and seeking to meet these needs through acts of service. In so doing they bear witness to the living faith in Jesus Christ that inspires them


Loving Relationships among the members of the church - happy to be together, encouraging one another, addressing personal problems in a loving way, laughing together, welcoming all who come through the doors


Schwarz also reports that a church will only grow to the point of its lowest quality characteristic. St Andrew's still has a "way to go", but we are working on it! How is your church doing?




24 April 2009


Note: this Message is inspired by a seminar given by Steve Plumb (CA) at New Wine Sligo 2008


NOTE - Previous "Monthly Messages" are archived at