So What is “Church Growth” Anyway?

I’d say that one of the most misunderstood terms these days is “Church Growth.”  I hadn’t even posted on the subject and I got the question about what I mean by the term:  Is it the number of people or the maturity of the people?

Plenty of Christians will say that the number of people who attend a particular church is irrelevant as long as they are growing in the faith.  I happen to think there is a point to be made there, but it also misses something very important: If the members of a given church are “mature” in their faith and in their walk with Christ, that should cause the number attending to increase…church_clipart_white

How is that, you ask?  Simple!  To be a mature follower of Christ means that you will begin doing the things that Jesus did.  If you do the things Jesus did, and Jesus was bringing the Gospel to the world, then you should be too. If you are taking the Gospel to the world around your neighborhood, shouldn’t there be fruit?

It is my view that a church cannot grow numerically until it’s leaders and congregation grow enough spiritually to do the things that cause church growth.  Therefore, in these posts, I hope that we can understand the meaning of “church growth” to be both in the growth of the people there spiritually and resulting in a growth in numbers.

While we’re at it, I’ll give you what I mean by “spiritual growth” as well.  When I say “spiritual growth” or “grow spiritually” I mean the growth of the people in their understanding of the teachings and application of Scripture in their daily lives such that they bear Biblical fruit as a result.  To put it another way, I mean that the people are becoming true disciples of Jesus Christ, understanding that a “disciple” is someone who knows what the Master knows, as revealed in the Bible, and who does what the Master does.  Jesus, the Master, when He was on the earth took the truth of God’s Word to the people around Him to make disciples, who in turn would do the same, with the result of more and more people coming to a mature knowledge of Christ. When this is not happening in the church, you can easily tell because there is no numerical growth.

You  might think that this is an over simplification, and maybe it is, but is surely a significant indicator as you will see in future posts on this subject. One thing is certain; there are a lot of numbers mentoned in the book of Acts!

About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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11 Responses to So What is “Church Growth” Anyway?

  1. mike and brandy says:

    healthy sheep beget healthy sheep.
    aim to be the best fed flock around, gather around christ jesus in the meetings, and encourage the people of God to serve and exercise their Eph 4 and 1 cor 12 and 14 gifts primarily OUTSIDE the four walls of the meeting house. make sure not to promote the meetings as a ‘seminary’ bible college course of study, stay focussed on christ jesus and application of the word to daily christian walk… the MAJORITY of a believer’s study and growth in Bible understanding and knowledge should come from PERSONAL time spent at home, not dependant on a human teacher no matter how ‘gifted’ he is.
    a local body shouldn’t be larger than real honest and connected ‘thruought the week’ relationship between them are possible. just like on Facebook, you don’t REALLY have 2,478 friends, you can’t REALLY have close and REAL relationship with thousands… or even hundreds. otherwise you must break the body down to ‘small groups’ or ‘community groups’, which are really small churches within a church, that separate the body anyway… why not just plant several autonomous bodies?
    by autonomous, i MEAN autonomous… separate and not controlled by the ‘big church’ or the ‘main church’. why the control? why the need to ‘be over’? just grow, set small groups free to be independant as needed so they can grow and set small groups independant as needed… and ‘church growth happens’
    the biggest problem with churches when they talk about ‘what to do’ for church growth is that think they need to ‘do something’ for church growth rather than focus on BEING the Body of Christ God wants them to be and letting Jesus Build His Church (matt 16). since when have we wanted to control so much?
    It shouldn’t be rocket science. it’s ‘healthy sheep’ beget healthy sheep. smaller healthy churches beget other smaller healthy Autonomous and Free churches.

    just my 2cents

    • Don Merritt says:

      Thanks for the 2 cents Mike!

      I can see that this is going to be a hoot! You might be surprised to discover that I agree with you about 90% We’ll see about the other 10!


  2. mike and brandy says:

    well, 90% is a mighty fine amount there brother. or is it that I agree with YOU about 90%? I of course defer to your wisdom and experience 🙂

    • Don Merritt says:

      Well Mike, you spoke first so I guess I agree with you! Remember when I told you a long time ago that there are a lot of things I don’t bother arguing about? Well, this is NOT one of them, it’s kind of a calling of mine. We’ll have some fun with this!


  3. Pieter Stok says:

    Thanks Don for the post. A topic after my own heart. What you say resonates with me, except, 🙂 “It is my view that a church cannot grow numerically until it’s leaders and congregation grow enough spiritually to do the things that cause church growth.” Sadly I have seen too many churches grow numerically because they have pandered to people but have not taken them on the ‘spiritual growth’ journey.

  4. Pingback: » So What is “<b>Church Growth</b>” Anyway? | Life Reference

  5. Great post! This is exactly in line with a planned post I am writing for our blog about “Church Growth … Guaranteed!” Thanks for the confirmation … And, love the blog!
    Ted and Carol

  6. Pingback: Guest Post: So What is “Church Growth” Anyway? | Life Reference | pastorappreciationblog

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