Good to grow

Building a missional church in the 21st century — one church’s story
By Steve Tibbert, with Val Taylor
Authentic. 203 pages. £7.99
ISBN 978 1 860 248 122

This book describes the growth of King’s Church, Catford, SE London, and also seeks to answer questions such as, ‘How does a church grow?’, ‘What are the principles involved?’, ‘How do you face the challenges that growth brings?’

Short punchy chapters are organised under three key growth periods: 1995-2000: Two Hundred to Three Hundred; 2000-2005: Three Hundred to Five Hundred; and 2005-2010: Five Hundred to a Thousand. It is an exciting and very encouraging story!

It contains lots of helpful insights and lessons which would aid a leader. The significance of size dynamics, the importance of team leadership, the challenges of raising funds, the need to develop ‘diversity’, and the crucial importance of recruiting key leaders are all underscored. There is also a great sense that ‘The good hand of the Lord was upon us’, and Steve Tibbert is keen to stress this, so that no one merely ‘copycats’ as though we builders can build in our own strength by following a simple ‘blueprint’.

On the weakness side, I felt that the chapters were too short; just when I was expecting some more help they ended. Although it is good to mention that ‘so and so turned up at this point in our journey and helped take things forward’, more analysis and detailed description would have made it more ‘transferable’. Second, most churches in Britain don’t start with growing a group from 200 but need help in getting there in the first place. This book may help a bit, but much will seem ‘out of reach’ for many. It is the ‘glass ceiling’ of getting up to 150 and then going beyond which most struggle with, not what may seem the ‘rarefied’ atmosphere of approaching 1,000. Third, I am not sure the book succeeded so well in its aim of answering the questions it set out — yes it is good on the description of King’s Church (and praise God for that), but not really so helpful on principles, decision making, and grappling with theological issues that inevitably get raised during a time of growth.

Would you benefit from reading it as a church leader? Yes, you would. Will it give you some useful tools and pointers? Yes again. Will you need discernment to make the most of it? Yes again.

Ray Evans
a leader at Grace Community Church, Bedford