These large “receptor” churches grow primarily by assimilating converts produced in other churches.

This entry is part 63 of 118 in the series Diagnosis, Dialogue, Decision: A DMin Project

Institutional leaders perceive many churches in the small church tier as being at the end of the product life cycle and prefer the larger, program base design church. These large “receptor” churches grow primarily by assimilating converts produced in other churches.[1] Growth by transfer rather than by conversion implies that persons entering these churches remain at an immature spiritual level because they do not learn to make disciples. Large churches grow in numbers by a process of addition by transfer.[2] Where do these converts originate?





[1] The quote is a selection from David O. Kueker’s Fuller Seminary Doctor of Ministry project submitted in September, 2007, entitled Diagnosis, Dialogue, and Decision: A Threefold Process of Revitalization For the Illinois Great Rivers Conference.
It is shared here in recognition of its 12th Anniversary along with comments to update and provide perspective on the material. The original project was a Training Manual/Study Guide of three Seminars supported by three chapters of research and an Introduction. The material is available for download at In 2009 it was provided for purchase as a softcover book entitled Designing Discipleship Systems: Christian Disciple Making For Any Size Church, Any Theology through

[2][3] [4][5] [6][7] [8]

All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Please review the page How and Why We Use Quotes.

[1]The reasons why these churches attract transfers rather than create conversions are complex. Research by Herb Miller indicates that large congregations over 300 in average worship are fewer in number yet the preference of 80% of baby boomers and younger. Miller, “Midsize Church Leadership,” 4.

[2]Cf. Carl F. George,“New Realities for the 21st Century Church,” The Pastor’s Update 94, tape 7033 (Pasadena, CA: Fuller Theological Seminary, 2001). On this audio tape George states that the vast majority of the members of megachurches are converted elsewhere but come to the megachurch for its varied program activities and its perceived quality of discipleship teaching. This underscores the point that receptor churches teach an attractive discipleship that does not make disciples, or there would be an explosion of new Christians originating within these churches rather than transferring into these churches. Receptor growth is growth by addition; disciples making disciples that make disciples is growth by multiplication and would account for the tenfold and hundredfold differences in size between American megachurches and gigantic third world cell churches. Eddie Gibbs reflects this data in ChurchNext: Quantum Changes In How We Do Ministry (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 151, 153, 173-175. In creation, mature fruit will reproduce. An institutional goal to imitate Program Base Design churches is unlikely to be fruitful in making disciples.

Series Navigation<< the third strongest negative factor to making disciples is church sizeInstitutional leaders identify a shift in population from rural to urban settings as the cause of rural church decline. >>
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