More Than Numbers

Miracle Gro

Here is a needed reminder:

I’m not so sure God cares how big your church is. Seriously. If your numbers aren’t “growing,” so what? I’m also not sure that the sign of a vibrant healthy church is ever-increasing growth, significant growth. It seems to me that the sign of a vibrant, healthy fully alive church is one where God’s people are growing in love, knowledge, and insight, not numbers. I’d rather be in a church like this than a church that is “growing” with greater numbers of people with shallow faiths who do not love well.

Where did Paul ever rebuke a church because their numbers were not growing by some set of hoped for percentage points?

Great point. I would add: Or Jesus, in his Letters to the 7 Churches in Revelation 2-3

I get the church growth rationale.  And I agree with some of the foundations of it, at least as it was originally developed as a mission strategy. But the American obsession with Bigger is Better has distorted much – maybe most – of the good that the original proponents of church growth may have intended.  Many of us have misapplied the whole concept of growth and mistaken it as the measuring stick for God’s blessing.  Size of a congregation is about as good of an indicator of being blessed by God, as is wealth an indicator of worth; or better still, as height an indicator of greatness.  (In other words, not a valid standard at all.) Consequently, faithfulness and substance is often subverted by gimmicks and pragmatism.  Whatever works to get them in… right?

Years ago, while I was servivng a fast growing congregation (that a year later showed the evidence of serious fractures), a good and gifted friend was “languishing” in a church that could not quite break the 100 barrier – even on Easter.  He was discouraged –  to put it mildly.  To encourage him, I offered a parallel thought.  Knowing of a huge community college in his city, I asked about the number of students who attended the school. He said he estimated 50,000 – 60,000 students.  So I observed that the school must be some impressive, prestigious place.  After all Harvard has only 6000 or so students.  The guy who is president of that community college must be thought of as having had 10 times the success as the guy who can’t lead a school any larger than Harvard!

He got the my point of my sarcasm.  It is a ridiculous analogy to compare a community college with a school with the history, the resources, and he selectivity of a Harvard.  Size is no indication of anything.  And neither is size any measure of a church.


To read the whole short post I quoted at the top, click: A Healthy Vibrant Church May Never Be Big



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