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Towards a Theology of Church Growth

Author: David Goodhew (Editor)
Published By: Ashgate (Farnham)
Pages: 284
Price: £19.99
ISBN: 978 1 4724 1400 7

Reviewed by Paul Beasley-Murray.

This book consists of twelve thought-provoking essays written almost exclusively by Anglicans and is divided into four parts:

(1) Introductory questions (including an essay on ‘Dialogue, Proclamation and the Growth of the Church in Religious Diverse Societies’);

(2) Church Growth and the Bible (Two essays on ‘The Kingdom of God and Church Growth in the New Testament’ & ‘The Ecclesiology of Acts’);

(3) Church Growth and Doctrine (‘Theology, Eschatology and Church Growth’; ‘Incarnation and Church Growth’; and ‘The Prodigal Spirit and Church Growth’);

(4) Church Growth: The Historical Setting (including essays on church growth in the Early English Church, the Medieval Church; the Church in Tudor Times, and the church 1750-1970).

David Goodhew, in his introduction, argues that “the numerical growth of the church should be a central concern for churches and individual Christians, and that the prevailing ‘decline theology’ should go. He recognises that “growth in the Christian life is never just about ‘bums in the seats’”, and that church growth is more than numerical growth, but nonetheless believes that “seeking the numerical growth of the church is intrinsic to being faithful to Christ”. Justin Welby in his Foreword suggests that we live in a period that future historians may subsequently describe as ‘the second phase’ of the current church growth movement: “Twenty to thirty years ago, when the notion was coined afresh in the modern ear, it focused very much on matters of technique. To this day we are too easily tempted to follow some formulae that our church will grow – rather than flying in the passion of love for Christ with every sinew of our being, and noting how the slipstream draws others into relationship with him and with all who belong to him”. This is an encouraging book, for it dispels the destructive acids of theological liberalism by providing deep theological foundations for a positive and expectant approach to ministry today.

Paul Beasley-Murray

Senior Minister of Central Baptist Church, Chelmsford<br>and Chair of Ministry Today

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You are reading Issue 65 of Ministry Today, published in November 2015.

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