People ask me how North Hall Church grew so quickly. Well, we haven’t done it the way you’re culturally supposed to be a church these days. I’m not a young, hip preacher. I’m loud when I preach and I don’t own a pair of skinny jeans. Thank you, Jesus! So, what church growth books am I reading? The Bible. What methods do we use to get people in the doors and to keep them coming back? Truth. You see, I firmly believe there’s a correlation between truth and church growth.
Truth is in Short Supply
Truth is in short supply these days. Bold face lying has become standard operating procedure—from the media, to the halls of congress, to the White House. Sadly, many pulpits are following suit. We’re living in the days Paul warned Timothy about. “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).
Others, however, are in search of truth. In fact, they long for it. Biblical truth is eternal truth. As such, it touches every part of daily life, both individually and collectively as a nation. At NHC we talk about cultural issues from a biblical perspective. Subjects like abortion and same sex marriage are typically seen as political, but we see them as biblical. So we examine them through a biblical lens.
Truth Has a Purpose
I’m not trying to be shocking or to pick a fight. But Christians need to understand what God has to say about all that’s happening in our world. As the “watchman on the wall,” (Isaiah 62:6) it’s important to equip my congregation with truth so they can navigate daily life.
Because of this stance, people often ask me if they would be welcomed in my church as a homosexual, or due to some other issue. My answer is always the same—anyone is welcome to come here. They just need to understand that we’re preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. We unapologetically and unashamedly hold to the Word of God as absolute and inerrant. So there are some who won’t be comfortable for long.
Truth and Growth in Action
Over the last two years, we’ve seen the correlation between truth and church growth in action. There were approximately 40 people in the room the first time I preached at NHC. There was no student ministry and only a handful of children each week. Now, we run about 400 each Sunday with over 200 people involved in small groups. A highwater mark came this summer when we held our first VBS. Not only did we have more than 80 volunteers, but over 140 children. Thirteen of those kids prayed to receive Christ with a counselor.
Those numbers are the result, not the focus. I’m not nearly as concerned with the number of people in the building each Sunday as I am with the nature of our people when we’re out in the community. Too many pastors get into trouble by focusing on numbers—the number in attendance and the number in the bank account.
Charged With the Truth
With so many churches shutting down since the pandemic, pastors can mistakenly think their goal is to stay open. However, the biblical charge to every pastor is to “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction…be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (2 Timothy 4:2, 5).
That means challenging a congregation with truth, not coddling them. From the beginning I clearly laid out biblical expectations such as serving, unity, and tithing. In those early days—when the weekly crowd was jumping by 50, 100 or more—I asked people to please not join if they were just looking for a place to sit but not serve. I warned that we weren’t going to be a church for busy bodies who gossip and stir up trouble. Most came back anyway.
I also challenged our church to be generous, which was greatly needed due to the poor condition of our building. Over the years water had caused serious damage in multiple places. Last year, an outside wall was completely removed and rebuilt, the roof was replaced, and the interior of the worship center was renovated. This was only possible because God’s people were obedient to God’s Word regarding tithing and generosity.
Truth Still Attracts
Some came simply because they saw the physical transformation taking place every time they drove by. But they stayed because of the transformation taking place inside the building, in the hearts and lives of people. That’s the real transformation.
None of this is found in a church growth formula. It’s not “seeker friendly.” We live in a culture that says, “If you do all that, people won’t come.” And my response? The most important person we want to show up each week is the Holy Spirit. And He’s attracted to the truth of His Word.