In the 1970’s, Donald McGavran’s Church Growth movement emerged in the service of a powerful theological vision: to fulfill the ancient promise to Abraham—that all of the earth’s peoples would be blessed, and to fulfill Christ’s Great Commission—to reach, and make disciples, among the lost peoples of the earth. Church Growth’s people, however, have never “majored” in Constructive Theology. With most other Christians, we regard Christianity as a revealed (not an imagined) faith; most of us affirm the classical theology of the Church, with deep roots in the Scriptures and normative respect for the several ancient creeds. So Church Growth leaders have not presumed to “improve” on “the faith once delivered to the saints!” Furthermore, Church Growth people usually identify with one of the great Protestant theological traditions—such as Lutheran, Reformed, Anglican, Methodist, Anabaptist, Restorationist, or Pentecostal. Moreover, because Church Growth is a field within the broader discipline of Missiology, we generally share the Mission Theology of our colleagues. Church Growth has not primarily contributed to theology because theology, per se, is not our “main business”, and reflective theology is not the arena for our essential contribution, nor is “speculative theology.” If the reflection behind important human (including Christian) activity functions within a Theology-Strategy-Method (or a TheoryModels-Practice) spectrum, Church Growth’s essential contribution is located squarely in the middle, while drawing from both theology and from field research where the practice is especially effective, with some contributions to theology and more to practice.
Hunter, G. (2005). The Theological Roots, Vision, and Contribution of the Church Growth Movement. Journal of the American Society for Church Growth, 16(2), 3-20. Retrieved from https://place.asburyseminary.edu/jascg/vol16/iss2/2