Tuesday, February 09, 2010

It's Not About Numbers!

There are very few things in my spiritual and professional life, which to me are the same thing, that has evolved and changed more than my view of church growth. I have written a lot about that in the past and I don't want to rewrite it all here, but the bottom line is, I concluded several years ago that we have been seriously infected by a virus known as "the world's view of church growth." We still define success by numbers and try to rationalize it away by spiritualizing it with "we only care about numbers to the extent that it's talking about souls." That's church-speak! If we aren't adding numbers to our attendance and contribution, we feel like we're failures or uncommitted, or if we want to soften the judgement, we say we're "stuck at a plateau" and need to come up with something to "get us over the hump." We didn't get those words or evaluations from the Word of God. In fact, just writing a blog like this will cause some people to say or think "he must just be making excuses for not growing."
No, I see growth in my spiritual family like I've never seen it before because I'm looking at something different than attendance and contribution charts. I'm looking to see who and how many in my church family are becoming more like Jesus. Becoming more like Him is the ONLY church growth challenge the Holy Spirit gives us! In Eph.4:15, our job is to grow in Christ, and Peter called on us to "...grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." (2 Pet.3:18) Too many of us have been trying to grow churches with little interest in helping individuals grow in Christ. We want to attract more than we want to guide. We want to invent gimmicks rather than build godliness. We want to know the secret formula that will impress others rather than follow the simple formula of loving one another!
This is what I believe causes real church growth. Four principles that are probably best seen as a cycle.
* Growth is directly related to, and determined by, congregational morale.
* Congregational morale comes from a spirit of love.
* A spirit of love comes from building relationships.
* Love is the singular quality that Jesus said identifies us as His disciples.
So, what are you doing to foster church growth? Just ask yourself, what are we doing to help our members love one another?