As I looked over my book shelves this week I noticed how many ‘Church Growth’ books I have bought and read over the last four decades in ministry. I then reflected on the number of conferences I have invested time and money in during that period in pursuit of the same goal: Church growth. Then I tried to imagine all the time, energy and resources that have gone into Church growth in the last generation across the whole world. It was a sobering time of reflection which brought more questions than answers for me.
Is it naïve to wonder what the world and the Church would look like today if all that effort and all those resources had been invested exclusively in Church health instead of Church growth? Is it possible that if the Church had prioritized health, not as a means to growth, but as an end in itself, we would be in a greater position to represent Jesus to the world? We are often told that one of the reasons so many Churches remain small is a lack of faith. But I wonder if the reverse could be true? Might our obsession with bigger and bigger Churches be rooted in a lack of faith? Are we afraid that God might not do His job (building His Church) if we simply stayed faithful to doing our job (making disciples)? Is it possible that the plethora of Church growth books, seminars, conferences and courses in the last forty years has been our attempt to help God out – or worse still, do God’s job?
I’m not against big Churches. I’m not against Church growth. I have Pastored congregations with hundreds of members and ones with less than ten. All were a blessing. But I’m just wondering out loud if all our Church growth strategies have diverted – or at least diluted – our limited resources away from what should be our main priority: making disciples who produce healthy Churches, no matter what size they may be. Maybe. Maybe not. But the question at least needs to be considered.
Robert Griffith | 18 September 2022
18 September 2022
18 September 2022