World Wide Wolfmueller

Law and Gospel in Joyful Clarity

How to Write a Church Growth Book in Five Easy Steps

Many people are putting off from writing their own Church Growth book because, they say, “I don’t know anything about the church or the Bible.” Don’t let that stand in your way! Follow these five simple steps and you, too, could be a successful church growth author.

My "Belt of Truth" is too tight

Step one: The premise
Say something about how you have found the secret, in the Scriptures, about what the church is. Have ready a personal story about how you have seen this “truth in action” “changing lives and churches” and “revitalizing whole communities”.

Step two: Figuring out what to write about
Pick any random Bible passage. (You can have your children do this for you if you like, or Google “random Bible verse” and let the internet pick one for you.) It does not matter what the text is, as long as it doesn’t have anything to do with Jesus’ institution of the means of grace.

Once you have a verse, take it out of context, focus on a single word or phrase. You are looking for something that can be an allegory or picture of the church. Make the passage an abstraction. If the passage is Gospel, treat it like law. If the passage is law, make sure the threats are removed. What you are looking for is a ‘model’ of how a church should look. This model is the gold you’re mining for. (Note: most new models are based on out-dated business models. If you have studied business or management you will be at a disadvantage here. Any hint of complexity and you’re done. It’s best if you act like you understand the business world, but don’t.)

Once you have your phrase in mind, you’ve got your thesis, which is: “The Lord desires for His church to succeed, but unless we understand that the church is like (insert your phrase here) we’ll never know the full potential of His kingdom.”

Step three: Title

Grow fast, like cancer cells.


The Title should include the word “Church” and some veiled reference to your new metaphor for the church. The Subtitle should contain the words “incredible” and “growth.” The word “insight” should be on the cover.

Step Four: Chapters
Chapter 1: “Whose’ Counting?” The first chapter should be about how this book is not about numbers. (The rest of the book will be about numbers.) This chapter should tell the story about how you have come to see this incredible Biblical insight, and how you have seen it work in people’s lives.

Chapter 2: “God Said It.” The “exegetical” chapter explaining your Biblical insight. Avoid context. Remember you’re treating the text as an abstraction. You should take at least four other texts out of context to support your thesis.

Chapter 3: “Making the Change.” Four steps to changing your old-fashioned, ‘dying’ or ‘plateaued’ church into this new model.

Step 1: Have some sort of big event so the people think that their coming up with this new idea themselves, or better, that they are getting it from God.

Step 2: Give the people your idea. Call it your “mission” and “vision”.

Step 3: Talk about it constantly.

Step 4: Change everything you don’t like. Say it’s because of your new, God given mission and vision.

Chapter 4: “Facing the Obstacles.” Of course the people in the church will resist many of the changes you want to implement. In this chapter you have to get the practitioner to frame this resistance as the persecution of the prophets and resisting the Spirit.

Chapter 5: “Success Stories.” Remind the reader of the goal: not “growth,” but “change that results in growth.” Make impossible promises. End with another assertion that this new insight is Biblical. Amen.

It's not about numbers, but you should still put this picture on the cover.

Step Five: Writing
Use short sentences with short words. Include a lot of bullet points. Each chapter should have at least three Bible passages taken out of context. Personal stories should be peppered through the chapters. If you ever get stuck, see the check list “How to Tell if You’re Being Emotionally Manipulated by a Youth Speaker”: www.tabletalkradio.org/documents/youthspeaker.pdf. In fact, this check list is helpful to review each chapter.

An Example

Bible Passage: John 8:48 The Jews answered Him, “Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?”

Abstraction: Samaritans were outsiders. Demons are powerful. If we are going to be like Jesus, and have an effective ministry, we will be purposely and intentionally powerful outsiders.

Thesis: “The Lord desires for His church to succeed, but unless we understand that the church is like powerful outsiders in our community we’ll never know the full potential of His kingdom.”

Title: “The Powerful Outsider, Unlocking Insights form the Insults of Jesus that are the Key to Incredible Church Growth”

Got it? The rest should come easy.

11 Comments

  1. Scary. You do know that truth is stranger than satire. You can’t make this stuff up anymore. Sharing. 🙂

  2. Scary. You do know that truth is stranger than satire. You can’t make this stuff up anymore. Sharing. 🙂

  3. I’ve actually thought of writing something similar, purely for satirical purposes. But I think Jenn is right: it would be taken seriously. Oh well, my pay day will come somehow, some time.

  4. I’ve actually thought of writing something similar, purely for satirical purposes. But I think Jenn is right: it would be taken seriously. Oh well, my pay day will come somehow, some time.

  5. After this post, I started a Bryan Wolfmueller fan page on facebook. Too awesome.
    Have you ever read “How to become a bishop without being religious?” I highly recommend it. It’s available online at : http://www.sheldonemrylibrary.com/becomeabishop.htm I think the best chapter is “Conducting public worship, an exercise in nostalgia.”

  6. After this post, I started a Bryan Wolfmueller fan page on facebook. Too awesome.
    Have you ever read “How to become a bishop without being religious?” I highly recommend it. It’s available online at : http://www.sheldonemrylibrary.com/becomeabishop.htm I think the best chapter is “Conducting public worship, an exercise in nostalgia.”

  7. I knew this was the real McCoy when I read: “Once you have a verse, take it out of context, focus on a single word or phrase.” Well done, Pr Wolfmueller. Your “worldwide-ness” is well-earned.

  8. I knew this was the real McCoy when I read: “Once you have a verse, take it out of context, focus on a single word or phrase.” Well done, Pr Wolfmueller. Your “worldwide-ness” is well-earned.

  9. Great, Bryan. I’ll share this.

  10. Great, Bryan. I’ll share this.

  11. Excellent work.

    As a footnote, I would add that you should try to find that foundational Bible verse in a paraphrase “translation” instead of a faithful rendering of the actual text. The best church growth translations are ones rendered using idiomatic language according to the rules of dynamic equivelancy. That way the abstraction is already done for you! Look for something like “The Message”, “The Good News Bible”, or “The Living Word Translation”. (You know, like Rick Warren does in his books.) Sure, it will mean that no serious scholar will take your work seriously… but how many serious scholars are going to be in the market for a church growth book anyway, am I right? 🙂

    If you don’t have a copy of “The Message” handy, you can always just jump around between various translations and pick the english words that support your thesis best… english words whose meanings and baggage do not match the actual words in the original language. That way you can literally put your ideas into an apostle’s or prophet’s mouth. (You know, like Rick Warren does in his books.)

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