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Keep faith growing.... 



... and why it matters more than church growing, writes Baptist pastor Phil Campion 

 

 

Keep Faith GrowingThe wrong question 

So often the question is asked “how do we get the church to grow?". When it is, much attention is given to analysing the reasons people do not “come to church”, and the methods we might employ to reverse this trend.
 
But I believe we are asking the wrong question. The issue we need to consider is not whether churches are growing, but whether the followers of Jesus are growing in their faith. As I explored this issue further I began to write down my thoughts, drawing on experiences during my life as a church leader, and on my reading of wiser writers down the years.

The result is this book, Keep faith growing, it matters more than church growing.
 
My hope is that it will encourage anyone who reads it to keep exploring faith. So it will be relevant for church leaders to help them keep focussed on the main purpose of ministry; it will encourage followers of Jesus who are actively part of church but wonder sometimes if church hasn't taken over their lives; and it also will hopefully speak to the many who have struggled with church, even giving up on church, and yet who still know the importance of faith.
 


Faith - a seed with potential for growth 

The analogy running through the book is of a seed which has the potential for amazing growth within it; a concept Jesus spoke about in his stories. True seed-to-plant growth is an organic, ongoing and epic process. We take our trees for granted!

But we can be inspired by standing under the branches of a huge chestnut tree, like one of the specimens in Kew Gardens, and considering how this tree began with a little shiny red conker probably buried into the ground by a zealous red squirrel some 300 years ago. (There were no grey squirrels in the UK then)

Faith needs to be the living reality within us, that keeps growing through the changes and circumstances of our lives. Paul wrote to the followers at Corinth and said, "Our hope is that as your faith continues to grow, our sphere of activity among you will greatly expand.” (2 Corinthians 10v15) Any expansion of the activity of mission flows out of the growth of faith in the Christians.

Or to put it in other words, Jesus will build his church as we keep growing in our faith.


 
Faith growth through conversation, curiosity and connections

So what does faith-growth look like? In the book there are three sections exploring the areas where I believe we are all to focus our attention, both individually as followers of Jesus and as those called to be part of the church serving one another, to ensure our faith does keep growing. The areas are Conversation, Curiosity and Connections.
 
Conversation looks at our relationship with God and especially how faith can grow through the conversation that can flow between God and us. This is not just about having more prayer meetings, but about learning to talk with the Lord, and even more to listen to him.

Curiosity tries to explain the importance of always seeking for fresh understanding of and revelation from God. This is illustrated with reference to  five specific areas: children and faith, theology, science and faith, suffering, and eternity. Are we open to finding out new treasures within our faith?

Connections talks about our relationships with others, and how these matter for our faith growth. What is the balance between our individual faith and our shared faith expressed when we meet together? How can we take the reality of our faith, and let it affect how we respond to those around us. Faith-growth happens when we give away the faith we have.



I have enjoyed drawing this book together, and being reminded of my own journey of faith, which is far from over. The book is no way an autobiography, but I do use stories from my own life and ministry, as well as from others, to root the book in real life.

The book was published on the same day as my close friends in Romania marked the end of life here for a special person in my own journey, Eugen Groza, pastor of Bethany Baptist Church Timisoara and Leader of Missio Link International, a mission of Romanians in Romania providing training for leaders through their Alpinis centre, and high quality care for street girls in their two Deborah Houses. The testimony of Paul at the end of his life was that “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4v7) The same was certainly true of Eugen.


But keeping the faith is not about storing it away in a cupboard for safety, it is about risking it in living well for Jesus. That would be my goal, and the aim of this book is to encourage all of us to do the same.
 
 

Keep Faith Growing - it matters more than church growing,
is published in the UK by Gilead Books and is available on Amazon. The book is available as paperback and on Kindle.


Phil Campion has been leading Baptist churches for more than 40 years. His journey has been shared with his family, with communities of Christians around this country, and with special friends in Romania and France. Now retired, he is involved in supporting local churches and mentoring young leaders, keeping fit, growing vegetables on the allotment, and having time with family and friends.


 
 




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Baptist Times, 17/10/2018
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