This webpage is for the people of the Toronto Conference for story sharing and networking.

 

 A Story of

 

Alderwood United Church

 

Toronto West Presbytery

Connie denBok talks about the church growth pattern where a congregation grows quickly, then plateaus, and then has a long decline. 

 

Alderwood was in the long decline stage, and the congregation made a conscious decision to not move

Evangelism is part of our heritage within the United Church....

toward death.  Evangelism is part of our heritage within the United Church.  When an organization is stressed, it tends to turn to its roots.  Being anti-evangelical is a form of self-hatred.  Connie quoted Reginald Bibby, saying that there is no easier place to evangelize from than the United,

Anglican, and Catholic churches. Most of the people out there think they are ours and will go to other churches if they are “excellent”; we only have to be “good”.  If you feed an organism what it needs, it will tend to thrive.

 

Alderwood used the Natural Church Development program from Germany which measures eight different aspects of congregational life to see what is needed.  Those areas are: leadership, ministry, spirituality, structures, worship services, small groups, evangelism, relationships.  If the weakest areas are addressed, the rest benefit.  The program’s surveys provide a snapshot of where the congregation needs growth, and those were addressed.  When churches are unhealthy, they tend to get cranky, Connie said.  Comparing the eight congregational needs to staves on a barrel, the program focuses on the lowest stave in the barrel.  When that lowest “stave” is addressed, there is often growth in other areas. 

 

The attendance has grown at least 40 percent.  The congregation has tried to grow or to market, but is focusing on getting their stuff together.  They have a group of recovering addicts in the congregation now.  The congregation has used Alpha a number of times. 

 

Questions/comments:

Alpha has a conservative theological orientation.  Are there other methods available? 

Connie outlined a Trinitarian formula where congregations tend to lean toward one member of the trinity – Father/Son/Holy Spirit.  Congregations tend to lean in one direction or another, as do denominations. 

If all three persons of the trinity overlap you’re still in the fold, but if we go all the way to one side we fall into heresies.  Church health comes from moving to the centre where the three persons overlap. If all three persons of the trinity overlap you’re still in the fold,

Congregations tend to lean in one direction or another...

but if we go all the way to one side we fall into heresies.  Church health comes from moving to the centre where the three persons overlap. Another resource they have used is Following Jesus by Harold Percy.