A quick note: Part 2 of Proud to be an American is coming later this week. You didn’t miss it.
This seems to be a common question in the church world. I always remember my parents speaking about pastors that would go to conferences and the big question for pastors seems to be “how big is your church?” The joke was pastors would exaggerate. The term was “evangelically speaking” we have X amount of people on Sunday morning.
Recently I walked into Starbuck’s and ran into a man that I used to go to church with. He’s a guy I don’t mind seeing but I probably wouldn’t put much effort into attempting to see him. The first question out of his mouth was “Where are you going to church?” I knew this was a loaded question but I told him I’m still going to Grace Fellowship. “Oh great how’s it going down there?” Wonderful I told him.
Here it comes….
“Is it growing?” “I’ve heard a lot of people have left their” Yes it is growing I told him. “Oh great because I know that the “So and So” family left and a lot of others…. whose still there from the original launch?” “Well it was nice to see you”
Yes it was God Bless.
So this really had me thinking about what’s the big deal about church growth? Is it important for pastors to exaggerate how many members or “attendees” they have each week. If this is the benchmark for success I’d say Joel Osteen is the clear winner. He’s going to have more crowns than anyone could imagine. How do we really measure growth? Mankind cannot read hearts so the only way they can measure success is by numbers. It kind of makes me think of how the Pharisees and early Jews measured success. If you had health, wealth and prosperity God had certainly given you His favor.
This all sounded great until that Jesus guy came along. Seems He turned everything upside down. His measure of success was the exact opposite of everything they thought.
But many who are first will be last, and the last first. Matthew 19:30
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:3
For whoever desires to save his life will lose it… Luke 9:24
Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you… Matthew 5:11
But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you… Matthew 5:44
This guy is radical. Maybe He was having an off day; perhaps He’s better at building a big church. We know he had a lot of followers. The crowds were enormous. There were mobs, “multitudes” the scripture tells us. More people than could possibly be counted. He certainly had something great to offer. After all He was healing them all. Anyone that came to Him was healed. Can you imagine how cool that must have been if you were sick. Incredible!
Then He does something so unusual that the modern day church builders must really scratch their heads and say why? In John chapter 6 the Lord is giving a sermon for the ages. Can you even begin to comprehend what it must have been like to hear God Himself proclaim the gospel? I can’t imagine how incredible that must have been. But this sermon was different, it rocked their world and it upset the status quo…. “This Guy is out there, He’s just plain wacky.” “Eat My flesh?” What? “Drink My blood?” “This guy is nuts….”
John 6:66-68 From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?” But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
There it is church growth 101…. Well okay not exactly. So how do you measure the success in a church?
2 Peter 3:18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.
1 Peter 2:2 as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.
Ephesians 4:14-15 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head Christ
Ephesians 4:12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,
I don’t believe a big church is sinful. I’ve attended Grace Community Church in California where John MacArthur is the pastor and I know God has numerically blessed that ministry as His word is faithfully taught. I also don’t believe that a small church that is not growing numerically is a bad thing.
What one must really consider is how are the saints being edified and trained for ministry? Are you growing in holiness and sanctification? Are people being saved and lives being changed? Are you being challenged from the pulpit? Are you accountable to the leadership and submissive to them? Do they proclaim the gospel message and does a call to repentance go out consistently?
These are all signs that God is growing His church.