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November 3, 2016

Shifting Church Growth Paradigms

By Daniel Im

Every month, Plus Members get video enhanced training from Ministry Grid on topics like leadership, ministry systems, residencies, multiplication, church planting, and multisite. In this training video, Derwin Gray, Founding and Lead Pastor of Transformation Church, discusses the secret to unleashing growth in your church.

*Plus Members can watch this entire Video Training by logging in and clicking here.

Shifting Church Growth Paradigms

A couple of decades ago the prevalent paradigm for growing a church was named after a famous line in the movie, Field of Dreams with Kevin Kostner. In that movie, Ray, an Iowa farmer, heard a voice that said, “If you build it, he will come.” After discerning what it was he was to build, he turned part of his farm into a baseball field where baseball players from the past (including his father) would come out of the cornfields to play ball.

In a similar manner, churches in years past seemingly believed that if they built a nice facility and offered excellent services in the form of preaching, music, and children’s ministry then people would come. In essence, they believed, “If they built it, they would come.” But as Ed Stetzer and others suggest, although this paradigm saw great success, it isn’t as effective as it once was. According to Stetzer and others, this method has reached most of the people it’s going to reach. In all reality, those who don’t attend church aren’t sitting around thinking, “Man, I sure do wish I could find a church where the preacher held my attention, that the music was lively, and that my children wouldn’t be bored.” In many areas, churches like this are as numerous as Walgreens or the local dollar store.

The new paradigm for church growth in the 21st Century in North America, according to Derwin Gray, Lead Pastor of Transformation Church in Rock Hill, SC, is soul care. In other words, churches should shift their primary paradigm to investing energy and resources into growing souls. In fact, Derwin states that the most important work in a church is to care for people’s souls. In the latest Ministry Grid training video, Derwin encourages churches to cast a vision for soul care so that their fruit may be used by God to reach those who are far away from Christ.

For Derwin and Transformation Church, their vision statement—based upon the Shema (Deut 6; also see Matt 22:36)—serves as their vision for soul care. It is, “[T]o be a multi-ethnic, multi-generational, mission-shaped community that loves God completely (Upward), ourselves correctly (Inward), and our neighbors compassionately (Outward).

Soul care begins vertically with our [continued] response to the Lord and His love for us. Everything about our being, who we are, should be filtered through the lens of God’s love for us and our love for Him. We know that God’s love for us was ultimately demonstrated through the giving of His only Son (John 3:16); thus, our love in response, should be ultimately demonstrated by offering up our bodies as living sacrifices (Rom 12:1).

In addition, soul care also consists of inwardly applying the work of the gospel whereby the Spirit conforms us more into the image of Jesus. Paul explains in his letter to the church at Colossae they are to put to death the earthly things (Col 3:5) and to put on the new self, “which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator” (Col 3:9,10). As believers grow in the knowledge of Jesus, the Spirit works to conform them more into the image of Jesus. As a result, they live out their true identity by imaging (mirroring) Jesus—His life and kingdom—to a watching world.

To read the rest of “Soul Care,” click here for the full video and post.

This video is part of Plus Membership, so to get full access to it, and much more, I encourage you to become a Plus Member. Click here to see all the benefits of becoming a Plus Member.


  • Soul care is the new church growth strategy for the 21st Century
  • The most important work in a church is to care for people’s souls. @DerwinLGray
  • Soul care begins vertically with our response to the Lord and His love for us.
  • Soul care consists of inwardly applying the work of the gospel so that the Spirit conforms us more into Christ’s image.
  • How we treat others reveals the way we believe God has treated us.
  • Believers cultivate a soul care vision through spiritual disciplines.
  • Soul care isn’t only for the individual’s sanctification, but also for the participation of God’s mission.


Daniel Im

Daniel Im (@danielsangi) is the Lead Pastor of Beulah Alliance Church, a multiplying multisite church focused on reaching 1% of Edmonton for Christ. His latest book is You Are What You Do: And Six Other Lies about Work, Life, and Love. He is also the author of No Silver Bullets and co-author of Planting Missional Churches. He co-hosts the New Churches Q&A Podcast, as well as the IMbetween Podcast. He has an M.A. in Global Leadership and has served and pastored in church plants and multisite churches ranging from 100 people to 50,000 people in Vancouver, Ottawa, Montreal, Korea, Edmonton, and Nashville. Because of their love for the local church, after pioneering and leading the church multiplication initiative for LifeWay, Daniel and his wife, Christina, moved back to Canada with their three children. For more information, visit danielim.com and follow him on social media @danielsangi.


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