One of the foundational beliefs of the church growth movement is that every church should desire to grow. And if you don’t want your church to grow, there’s something wrong. Probably something wrong with you.
So let me get right to it and answer the question in today’s title.
Is it wrong if I don’t want my church to grow? YES.
Always. Without reservation. No excuses allowed. No “buts” added.
It is always wrong when a follower of Jesus, and especially a church leader, doesn’t want their church to grow.
People need Jesus. As long as there is one person in our community who doesn’t know Jesus, one child in poverty, one scared, pregnant teenager, or one person anywhere with a need that Jesus wants us to meet, we need to reach out to them.
Any follower of Jesus who does anything less than their best to reach people because they want their church to stay small, familiar and comfortable is selfish, settling or worse. It is burying your talent. If you think that language is too harsh, Jesus was harsher. He called such a bury-your-talent-and-sit-on-what-we-have attitude, “wicked and lazy.” (Matthew 25:14-30)
So, if you are intentionally or unintentionally putting up roadblocks that hinder your church from growing, remove them. Now.
Get rid of the obstacles. Stop being the obstacle. And start being the church – vibrant, outward-reaching, innovative, healthy and growing.
Most Small Churches Don’t Want to Limit Growth
One of the primary misunderstandings I face when writing about the value of small churches is the assumption that I don’t want churches to grow – or at least that I’m okay with settling for less. That just isn’t true. Church growth should always be a part of every pastor’s prayers, passion and strategy.
Churches stay small for a whole lot of no-guilt reasons, which I’ve described in previous posts, including 9 No-Fault, No-Excuse Reasons Many Healthy Churches Stay Small. But very few of them are small because they don’t want to grow.
People like me who support healthy small churches do so because we’ve realized that a bigger congregation is not the only measure of a great church. We’ve discovered that applying church growth principles doesn’t always lead to a bigger congregation (we know, we’ve tried them all).
We’ve also seen that, while some unchurched people will be drawn to Jesus through a professionally-staged, well-lit, high-production church extravaganza, with pristine facilities and world-class childcare, many are looking for Jesus in more intimate settings.
We Need Great Churches Of All Sizes
It’s not wrong to
- Question certain methods of the church growth movement
- Realize that there’s a place for healthy small churches in the body of Christ
- Do ministry in such a way that most of the visible fruit of it grows on other trees
- Use a shepherding model, because that’s where we find our greatest gifts, calling and effectiveness
It doesn’t matter how we gather as the church, or how big, it just matters that we do it. And when we do, reaching out to others and enfolding them into this wonderful opportunity to have a relationship with Jesus must be a central part of it. The Great Commission isn’t optional.
The world needs great, passionate, innovative, outward-reaching churches of all sizes.
As I wrote in The Grasshopper Myth, “Wanting to worship and serve God in a Small Church is not a theological error or a personality deficit. It’s time we stopped treating it as though it was.”
Staying small because you don’t want your church to grow is wrong.
Using smallness as a tool to reach people that big churches may never reach, isn’t a problem. It’s a much-overlooked necessity.
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