It’s been my life–thinking about church and what makes church better. I grew up in a family that loved church and did their best to make it better. I think about church all the time. Therefore, it was natural when I wrote a post several weeks ago about how churches grow. The post was specifically about how a church can break through the most difficult barrier to growth–the 100 barrier. If you would like to see it, click here. I think that you will find that post interesting and helpful.
The responses of a number of pastors really encouraged me. They think about growth as well.
One question really surprised me until I gave it more consideration. The question makes sense. Why do you want the church to grow? Don’t you want the church to remain warm and intimate? Don’t you want to remain responsive to the needs of the intimate group?
For several weeks now I have been contemplating my reply.
First, can the church really follow the command of Christ to make disciples without a growth mindset? After all, our example for what a church should be–the early New Testament church–grew significantly. Recently, I read a pastor who gave thanks that over his ministry he had baptized 3000 people. That was the number baptized on the day of Pentecost! The New Testament church had a mindset of reaching people and advancing the kingdom. The church is God’s plan for growing the kingdom.
Second, as our churches grow, we touch our communities. Shouldn’t we want to be penetrating the darkness of our communities? Is there any other way to do so?
Third, unless churches grow, we must keep planting new churches or return to the house church model. Both of these seem difficult in our culture. The house church apparently works well in China, etc. It might work in our culture as well but it would be a major shift.
Fourth, without all churches growing, we keep having less influence over the culture. The culture becomes more and more pagan.
Fifth, a large church of small groups includes people well. I ask our involved people regularly, “do you think of FBC Covington as a large church?” They don’t! because they are in small groups and because they serve. That always makes the church intimate.
Sixth, in order for the church to grow, we have to value people. We must let them know they are important and that we want them to be a part of the church. Recently, I have said this to almost every guest: “Thank for joining us today. Please come back.” Jesus valued people. Wanting the church to grow demands that we value other people.
Finally, more people get to serve as the church grows. Service is where you find the “fun” of church. If you keep the church smaller, the same people can serve and keep the church going. When the church begins to grow, new leaders have to step up to serve in the name of Christ. I find that my real growth has come through struggle and service.
I believe that God wants His church to grow. What about you? What reasons would you give for church growth?
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