Many churches want their church to grow. Why? That’s a question I have wrestled with. The obvious reason is there are people who do not belong to Christ and need to be reached with the gospel. True! But I really doubt that this is what motivates many churches. If evangelization is really the motive for growth in many churches, those churches would be very different than they are.
To be quite honest, I get the feeling that most churches want to grow merely as a means of self-survival. That is, they do not want the doors to close for good. I do not have any hard data to verify that suspicion but as I have listened to other church leaders in conversations about church growth, this is what I hear.
And this is where I struggle, because I do not believe that self-preservation is a good reason for church growth. Yes I want to see non-Christians come to faith but let’s be real: there are plenty of other healthy churches to evangelize the non-Christians and be a place for them to grow in faith. So I have no desire for a church to grow simply so that it can continue to exist.
But I do want church growth to happen. Specifically, I want the Columbia Church of Christ to grow.
Above all, I want people to become disciples, placing their faith in Christ alone, growing in that faith to become as mature followers of Christ. Yet I also want the Columbia Church of Christ to grow because I believe we not only are a healthy church that is free from the faith-killing legalism but we also are deeply committed to Christ and want to live by the Spirit. We are grounded in scripture, we have two very caring shepherds (elders), we are learning to be a praying church, we love to serve those in need, and accordingly our desire is to participate in the mission of God. This is not to say that we are perfect (nor am I) but we are the sort of church that I believe God wants to place those seeking him because we are a church where faith can be nurtured and cultivated into a mature faith.
Having said that, I want our church to grow because as it grows we have more and more people who are learning to love God and neighbor, more people who are being set free to creatively serve others in the name of Jesus, more people who are learning to share their faith with others. I want the church to grow because as it does we can increase our support of missions and ministries both locally, nationally, and even internationally. I want the church to grow because as it does, we can plant more churches that will grow as salt and light in the world.
There is still a lot to talk about and still a lot of upward and inward growth needed but I am excited. Having been with the Columbia Church of Christ for over a year now, I am really excited about the future and the opportunities for growth that I believe God is leading us into. It is the beginning of a vision that God is beginning reveal and it excites me.