Our Unification movement exemplifies two church models, and serves as a case study of their effect on church growth. Church growth has regular causes that can be discerned by examining churches that are growing. Church decline also has regular causes that can be discerned by examining churches that are shrinking. The defining characteristic of most growing churches is that they have one mission, that being evangelism, and congregational polity. Most shrinking churches have multiple missions and hierarchical polity.
For a church to have an evangelical mission means the church is organized to proclaim the good news (the “evangel”) and to bring others to salvation through it. Congregational polity means that the members of the local church own and govern the local church.
To have a hierarchical polity means that pastors are employed and directed by a central authority. Through the pastors, the central authority, which owns all properties, guides the planning, schedule, strategies, style, etc., for each congregation. Such churches tend to have multiple missions and pay little attention to evangelism.
Thesis #1: The Unification Church grew when and where it had an evangelical mission and congregational polity
Founding of the church: The Unification Church grew from one spirit-led man starting a local congregation. The church had an evangelical mission and congregational polity. He taught and preached a God-centered biblical vision for world transformation. He prayed incessantly. His mission began with a vision of Jesus; people who joined testified that it was the spirit world that led them to him. He loved and served others to bring them into his church, sleeping and eating little, giving up his family, worrying not about physical needs. That was how it started.