What Can Donald McGavran Teach Us?

imgresDonald A. McGavran, the founder of the church growth movement, became fascinated by one predominant question: Why do some churches grow rapidly while others don’t grow at all? Related to that, he began asking how he and his fellow missionaries could strategically begin to cultivate the harvest where the soil was more pliable while giving consistent, yet less, energy where the soil was rocky. These inquiries were the seeds of what would later become the Church Growth Movement.

You and I can learn a great deal from McGavran’s life and from the work he did as God molded him into the premier missiologist of the twentieth century – and we should make it a point to do just that. As growing church leaders, we need to be students of history. The insight that can be gleaned from studying the great men and women of God who have gone before us is paramount to our being as successful as possible in ministry here and now. After all, we either learn from history or we learn from experience.

So, what can McGavran teach us about growing healthy churches today?

  1. Maintaining a missionary heart is critical to growing your ministry.
  2. Developing “church growth eyes” is also critical to growing your ministry.
  3. Don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo.
  4. Just because a principle is controversial doesn’t mean it’s not true.
  5. Keep a relentless, laser-like, uncompromising focus on the Great Commission.

Take the time to step back and objectively observe your environment and the people you’re called to reach. What are they dealing with? How are they hurting? What do they need? Don’t let yourself get so used to the culture you’re immersed in that you stop noticing it. Don’t let yourself get so comfortable that you stop praying fervently for impact and influence on those around you.

Your partner in ministry,


McGavran-graphicsP.S. – For an in-depth look into the life and work of Donald McGavran, pick up Dr. Gary Mcintosh’s latest work Donald A. McGavran: A Biography of the Twentieth Century’s Premier Missiologist.

Join Dr. McIntosh on a discovery of McGavran’s life and work; no other person so impacted the growth of the church in North America and around the world. When it comes to applicable truths concerning the growth of the Christian church, McGavran’s story reveals critical insights that many in ministry today have been missing for far too long.

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About Nelson Searcy

Nelson Searcy is an experienced church growth strategist, pastor, church planter and coach, consulting with churches around the world. As founder of Church Leader Insights and the Renegade Pastors Network, he has personally trained more than 3,500 church leaders in over 45 denominations through live events, seminars and monthly coaching. Nelson is also the Founding and Lead Pastor of The Journey Church, with locations across New York City and in Boca Raton, FL. Nelson and his church routinely appear on lists such as “The 50 Most Influential Churches” and “The 25 Most Innovative Leaders.” He is the author of over 100 church growth resources and 18+ books, including The Renegade Pastor: Abandoning Average in Your Life, Ministry and The Difference Maker: Using Your Everyday Life for Eternal Impact, and At the Cross with the People Who Were There. He and his wife, Kelley, have one son, Alexander.

Nelson SearcyBooks, Church Growth, Leadership

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