Why Should (Y)our Church Grow?

I won’t apologize for wanting my church to grow.  Such growth should mean more believers follow Jesus, whom God has reconciled.  So there won’t be any apologies from this minister and since I don’t know a minister who doesn’t want their church to grow, they shouldn’t apologize either.

What we need to ask is why should our churches grow?  The question I am getting at though is really about why do we should God bless our church with growth?  Unless we are functional deists (and I hope we’re not), growth is the result of God’s blessing.  No matter what practical things we do as participants with God towards this endeavor, the increase comes from God.  So why should God bless our church with the increase of growth?

There are plenty of local churches in every town and there are people in every town who are seeking God.  Why should God lead us to them and them to us?  Some might say, “Because we teach the truth about the gospel of Jesus Christ.”  Well, that is certainly important.  However, that is not the only reason.  Further more, if we can get past the hubris belief that our church is the only “true church” teaching the faith perfectly then we might see that the answer to the question involves more than just what we teach.

I am convinced that God wants to place those seeking him among churches where they can learn to follow Jesus as they develop a healthy faith.  I am also convinced that God wants to place these seekers in churches who will not strangle the life our of their burgeoning faith.

The implications of this impact not just what is taught in our churches (already mentioned) but how our churches put our teaching into practice.  Are we committed to holy and righteous living?  Are we journeying as follower Jesus or just settled on maintaining the status quo?  Do we love one another as Christ loves us?  Do we extend grace and mercy to others who are going through difficulties?  Are we peace-makers or people who thrive on conflict?  Are we Christ-centered and Spirit dependent in our faith?  Are we serious about living as participants in the mission of God?

How those questions are answered matter to the question of why should our churches grow.  I don’t believe the local must be perfect but it seems rather presumptuous for any church to expect God’s blessing if it is not serious about living as a faithful community belonging to Christ.  So if we want God to bless our churches with growth, then we might ask if our churches are living as a church God wants to grow?

2 responses to “Why Should (Y)our Church Grow?

  1. Great post, Rex. The same question is good to ask when starting a new church. “Why should this church be born and thrive?”

  2. Just to contribute. Below is an excerpt from an article written by Alan Nelson, at http://www.rev.org, in 2008.

    1 Tradition (denominational history, doctrinal distinctions)— As the saying goes, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. According to most studies on the topic, a large number of people return to their childhood roots as parents, whether charismatic, liturgical, or nondenominational. Commitment to a specific denomination and its traditions is common.

    2 Proximity (physical distance and familiarity)— Most will not travel more than 20 minutes away from their homes but will drive up to 10 minutes more if it’s in the direction of their normal commute. Familiarity of the path helps, but it also limits where a person will attend. High fuel prices, available transportation, weather, and road conditions can reduce travel distance as well.

    3 Demographics (age, life stage)— Finding people like oneself in a faith community, in terms of age and life stage, is significant. Collegians, young married couples, young families, families with teenagers, empty nesters, and retirees all have more in common with each other than age alone. Typically, a church member is within five to 10 years of the lead pastor’s age, although a popular staff member can skew this norm.

    4 Socio-economic (education, income)—People often relate more to each other because of a shared socioeconomic class than because of any other similar factor, including age and ethnicity. Formal education and pay scale usually equate to lifestyle, providing things to talk about and common communication styles in general. Plus, socio-economic groups typically live in proximity to each other.

    5 Music/worship style (the arts and psychographics)— Hymns, choruses, charismatic expression, praise and worship, acoustic, pipe organ, choir, worship team, liturgy, performance, or participative… music and arts pique our emotions and thus are the most controversial, causing people to select or avoid a church.

    6 Preaching delivery/pastoral personality— Some people will endure music they don’t like if they like the preaching, so long as preaching is one of their interest angles. Consequently, “average” preachers have grown huge congregations while some dynamic communicators lead very small ones. Related to preaching is the pastor’s personality, which can attract or detract people from a church.

    7 Ethnicity/culture—The multiethnic congregation is a passionate and mostly unrealized goal of many churches. For the most part, people enjoy the cultural norms, language, color, dialect, traditions, and history of their own “tribes.” While first, second, and third generations differ from each other, the closer to the country of origin, the more people choose to value this interest angle.

    8 Community/friends—People will endure disdain for various aspects of a church, so long as they maintain good friendships in church. Perhaps more than any single factor, this is the glue that causes people to stick to and feel fulfilled in a church, whether it’s growing or shrinking. Many people accept lower quality programs and services when they discover close community among friends.

    9 Mission/vision—Churches that develop a strong mission vision tend to attract people who share that interest angle, whether it be for overseas missions, caring for the homeless, evangelism, or other outreach motivations.

    10 Youth/kids—When life passage includes children at home, finding a church that’s liked by the kids and meets their spiritual needs becomes significant.

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