Happy Birthday, Donald McGavran

Happy 120th Birthday to Donald McGavran!

Donald McGavran was one of the premier missiologists of the twentieth century and considered the father of the Modern-Day Church Growth Movement. He is the single most influential thinker on how we do ministry today.

I never met Dr. McGavran. But I discovered his wisdom through those who came after him — through books by C. Peter Wagner, Elmer Towns, Thom Rainer and Gary L. McIntosh. I continued to learn all I could about him and have made it a practice to secure, study and catalog every McGavran book and article I can get my hands on!

McGavran’s insights and teachings have long been and continue to be paramount to the work I do. My wife and I moved to Manhattan in 2002 to start The Journey Church in New York City. By God’s grace the church grew, mainly by reaching non-Christians.

Out of our commitment to the Great Commission and through the influence of McGavran’s principles of church growth, we started additional locations and churches across the New York area, as well as in Boca Raton, FL and other heavily non-churched areas.

The way we connect with and disciple those new believers in each of our locations ties directly back to the influence of McGavran.

I’m never surprised to find that the pastors I work with who are already leading effective, growing churches are either students of McGavran’s work or of the movement he began.

There are some terrific books written by or about Donald McGavran, so let me suggest you start with:

Donald A. McGavran: A Biography of the Twentieth Century’s Premier Missiologist by Gary L. McIntosh
Understanding Church Growth by Donald McGavran and C. Peter Wagner
Bridges of God: A Study in the Strategy of Missions by Donald McGavran
Ten Steps for Church Growth by Donald McGavran and Winfield C. Arn

Your partner in ministry,


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About Nelson Searcy

Nelson Searcy is an experienced church planter, coach and church growth strategist, working with churches in over 45 denominations. Nelson is also the Founding and Lead Pastor of The Journey Church, with locations across New York City and in San Francisco and Boca Raton, FL. He first developed the Assimilation System 10 years ago at the Journey Church and has since implemented and improved these strategies with over 3,000 churches across all sizes and denominations. He started coaching pastors in 2006 and has personally coached over 2100+ senior pastors, helping them break common growth barriers like 125, 250, 500, 1000 and beyond, all while maintaining personal life and ministry balance. As founder of Church Leader Insights and the Renegade Pastors Network, he has trained more than 50,000 church leaders (3,000+ church planters). He is the author of over 85 church growth resources and 17+ books, including Fusion: Turning First-Time Guests Into Fully-Engaged Members of Your Church and The Renegade Pastor: Abandoning Average in Your Life and Ministry. His continued mission is to help church leaders around the world cooperate with God in creating healthy, thriving churches. Nelson is married to Kelley and together they have one son, Alexander.

Nelson SearcyChurch Growth