It’s Not Always Numerical Growth

June 12, 2006 by

This is part five in a continuing series, Is Church Growth the Highway to Hell?

I think numerical church growth can also be an idealized state, the place we want to be. It doesn’t always happen. Or at least we don’t think it’s happening.

Look at persecuted communities or places where the church is barely established. Sometimes a body of believers is barely hanging on under continued onslaughts. In this sort of environment numerical growth can be difficult.

But I think we do still see growth—it just may be tiny or impossible to measure. If the church survives at all, it is because of growth. How many times has the church exploded after a period of persecution where it seemed impossible for the Gospel to take root? It looked and felt like failure. But growth eventually exploded out of an infertile land. Sometimes it takes time for the seeds of the church to grow.

And perhaps that’s one of the dangers of the church growth movement—that it emphasizes growth we can see and measure. Not all growth is so easy to record. Personal growth is impossible to track and chart on a graph. But it still matters. It’s still important.

A church that isn’t growing numerically but is growing personally—that is the individual Christians in the church are growing and maturing, but attendance isn’t increasing—is still growing.

I think the rub is that if the church never grows numerically then something is wrong. Personal growth should eventually lead to numerical growth. If a church never introduces people to Jesus Christ then what are they doing? Where’s the fruit? It may take a while—it could take years—but if the individuals are growing and maturing then that should eventually lead to living out the Great Commission.

Post By:

Kevin D. Hendricks

When Kevin isn't busy as the editor of Church Marketing Sucks, he runs his own writing and editing company, Monkey Outta Nowhere. Kevin has been blogging since 1998, runs the hyperlocal site West St. Paul Reader, and has published several books, including 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading, The Stephanies and all of our church communication books.
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