Church Growth: God Makes it Grow

June 24, 2006 by

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

One of the arguments I hear again and again against the whole idea of church growth is that it’s synthetic. It’s manufactured. It leaves God out of the equation and is a man-made process, and by definition doomed to failure (though said failure may not be visible in the number of people who show up on Sunday morning).

And I agree. Synthetic church growth sucks.

However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t optimize every possible angle to make sure your church does grow. God ultimately makes a plant grow, but a gardener would be foolish to deprive his plant of water, sun and soil for fear that he’s manufacturing growth. The growth will happen if the conditions are right, so why not make what conditions we can right?

And God is still involved in each of those decisions. Trying to bring people to Jesus should never be about mindlessly following a set formula. We certainly have to do our part, and that may mean following a standard formula, but we also need to rely on God to work through that formula. Notice that the reliance is on God, not the formula, and as long as we rely on God there’s nothing wrong with the formula.

It’s the same with our marketing efforts. They’re are nothing if God isn’t working through them. Our sermons are nothing if God isn’t speaking through them. Our multimedia presentations are nothing if God isn’t in them. Our outreach strategy is nothing if God doesn’t make it happen. And if we rely on any of those things and not God we’re doomed to fail.

It’s like breathing. Life doesn’t work so well if we forget to breathe. That’s how I see the role of God in church growth–or any of the marketing and communications we talk about. It’s so central it’s easy to overlook, but without it we’re dead.

But when it happens, it’s like when God breathed humanity out of the dust.

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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2 Responses to “Church Growth: God Makes it Grow”

  • Gene Mason
    June 27, 2006

    I think you are right on the mark, though the language is somewhat “me centered.” I’m guilty in hindsight of doing something and then asking God to bless it. That often comes out in “our efforts, our marketing, OUR, OUR, OUR…” I have to catch myself that I do not find myself in the position of doing something good in God’s name that frankly, if I had prayed about it, I would find that He really has not called me to our commanded me to do it. GROWTH is one of these things.
    God is out to glorify Himself. Acts tells us to devote ourselves to His Word, fellowship, prayer and breaking of bread (communion, often interpreted as worship). It also says God added to their number daily. So growth is the natural and God-given result of devotion to his commands and His Word.
    Cool thing about it, as you allude to, is that when it happens God’s way, only God can get the credit. Interesting thing about growth talk is that we all want it (me included), but God clearly says, “That’s my job.” If we were all devoted to what God told us to do (He never said grow the church, He said BE the church), then I think it would likely grow anyway, and in such a way that everyone would know it was truly a “God thing.”
    I wanna be that kind of believer at that kind of church.

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  • Jim McGee
    June 27, 2006

    I like the garden analogy and think we can push that further. Some plants are intended to be small, others large. Some reproduce quickly, others sparingly — but all are designed to reproduce and grow to maturity. Healthy plants are beautiful regardless of size; yet overgrown plants are an eyesore.
    The more we can seek and see the Gardener’s hand in the life of our churches, the healthier they and we will be.

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