"It takes a very brave person to walk into a church on their own nowadays", says Michael Harvey in his new liberating book ‘Unlocking the Growth’, "but God is still speaking to them and all they need is a gentle invitation".
The challenge for today's church is to attract, engage and nurture new followers of Christ. This is the vital step toward the larger goal of transforming whole communities with the love of Christ.
When was the last time you invited someone to church?"
Becoming an inviting church
With this question 'Unlocking the Growth's author, Michael Harvey - originator of 'Back to Church Sunday', opens his insightful review of church growth, its absence and how every church member can unlock their church’s potential for mission.
The basics are simple: invite your friends, and become an inviting church."
This book is simply about helping people re-learn how to make disciples and goes right back to what the church is all about. Since Philip urged his future fellow disciple to ‘come and see’ (John 1:46) invitation has been crucial to spreading the gospel. (43/246)
Living by faith not dying in fear
The book looks at the whole area of invitation including the reasons we don’t invite our friends. "Right at the heart," claims author Michael Harvey, "is the fear of rejection. We fear the idea that our friend or relative might say 'no' to us."
Invitation seems to be missing as a Christian practice in today’s church.”
Our failure to invite friends, neighbours and relatives to church means we are living by fear when we claim to be living by faith. In becoming a welcoming church, we rediscover the fruit of God’s potential; propelling us into the practice of inviting people into a relationship with God
Inside track on unlocking the growth
Michael argues that the heart of the Christian message is simply an invitation. He also gives insight on those invisible chruch habits and practices that drive new-comers away. 'Unlocking the Growth' is not a difficult book or concept with helpful chapters of practical advice including:
- The reasons we don’t invite our friends.
- Twelve steps to becoming an inviting church.
- The reasons why people don’t come back.
- The seven phrases that turn away.
- The ten keys to keeping.
- Perspectives on back to church Sunday.
Growing in numbers and maturity
In the foreword to 'Unlocking the Growth', Archbishop John Sentamu writes, "It is my prayer that all who read this book will see their fellowships growing not only in numbers but in spiritual maturity.
He talks briefly about unhelpful and introvert church 'wayside pulpit' posters of the past, and then quotes Archbishop William Temple’s words that the Church is unique in that, "...it exists for those not yet its members."
Michael Harvey: author snapshot
In 2004 Michael Harvey gave up a high-flying job in the City of London to teach church leaders how to see new possibilities. Using an approach that has quickly become established as 'Back to Church Sunday' his ideas have influenced thousands in the UK, Ireland, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, France, Holland and the US.
Michael is also non-executive chairman of a skateboard park and the founding director of a charity which sees 100 volunteers a week befriend families. He attends church in the small picturesque village of Delph featured in the film Brassed Off.
Unlocking the Growth: The not-so-trivial files
In 2009 at least 80,000 new people came to church in Britain through Michael Harvey's 'Back to Church' innitiative and his 12 step approach. Around 10,000 of these newly invited people becamenew believers.
Quick Guide to Unlocking the Growth - Miicahel Harvey
What is it?
- Practical steps and encouragement to becoming an inviting church.
- Growing your church by inviting new people and making them welcome.
- Nurturing new believers in the faith so that they grow in spiritual maturity.
What will it do for me?
- Provide an resource and inspiration to grow your church with first-time believers.
- Help your church memebers reach out in faith to friends, neighbours and relatives.
- Show you how to overcome church habits and practices that drive people away.
March 11th, 2012 - Posted & Written by Les Ellison