“The Big Four” Report # 4 (pgs. 1-50) Introduction The book The Big Four derives from a project headed by the author, S. Joseph Kidder along with a small group of graduate research assistants. Their intent in the four year project was to try to find out why some Adventist churches are growing and why some other churches are not growing. They discovered four major factors that were linked to church growth in the North American Division (NAD): empowering servant leadership, passionate and authentic spirituality, committed and active laity, and God exalting worship.
These are the big four; there is a section in the book dedicated to explaining each of these dynamics. This report is dealing with the first two sections dealing with the biblical foundation of Church health and growth and empowering servant leadership. The Biblical Foundation of Church Health and Growth Kidder begins with giving us three reasons for the purpose of the church: glorify God’s name, edify the body of Christ and expand the Kingdom of God. Next, Kidder gives clear insight in chapter 1 on what the Bible says about Church growth.
He first starts out with the Great Commission that Jesus gave his disciples recorded in Matthew 28. This is evidence that God wants his church to grow; it was commissioned by Jesus, the One who was given “all authority’. What I like about this section is that Kidder doesn’t introduce a new idea or a new method; rather he goes back to the Bible and highlights the fastest growing congregation in church history, the 1st century NT church of Acts. He highlights that this church grew in all categories of growth.
Kidder brings to the reader’s attention from the scripture that they grew numerically, geographically, and spiritually. I also like that he emphasizes not only a growing church, but a healthy church. He also states that the “the power for church growth is that of the Holy Spirit” (24). Lastly, I feel that it was even important that Kidder gave us specific reasons for our motivation to evangelize and grow our churches. Empowering Servant Leadership Chapter one of this section talks about maintaining optimism that is founded upon faith.
In this section Kidder discusses some of the results he found due to optimism. It really stuck out to me that, according to his research, that a church could grow or decline based off of the attitude of the church, mostly given off by the church Pastor or leader. Where there was optimism there was growth, where there was pessimism there was decline. Therefore I was encouraged on having a winning attitude, because this is according to Kidder the most important ingredient for church growth. In chapter 3 Kidder redefines the role of the Spiritual leader.
He mentions the traditional role and also a contemporary role of leadership but, he redefines the role in contrast to these by going to scripture and looking at Jesus. I love that he highlights that the first thing is that Jesus maintained a close relationship with his father. The others were preaching the gospel, meeting the people’s needs, and making disciples. I appreciate this simplification of the role, that was exemplified by Christ, because it is easy for Pastors to do everything in the church and this leads to burnout and a dysfunctional church.