The Myth of Inevitable Congregational Growth
Many churches don't grow beyond a certain size no matter how healthy they become

As I outline in my book, The Grasshopper Myth, in the last 15 years the growth of my congregation has fluctuated between the low 100s and almost 400. But twelve years ago we had 200 attenders, eight years ago there were 200, two years ago there were 200, and today - you guessed it – there are 200 attenders. That puts us on the upper end of small, but that's still considered a small church

During that time, aside from the era where I nearly killed it, the church has steadily become as healthy, outward-focused, friendly and worshipful as any church I know.

Are we perfect? Far from it.

Have I made mistakes that have hindered possible chances for growth? Undoubtedly.

But my premise for this post isn't that numerical growth isn't possible. Just that it isn't inevitable.

Comfort for Small Churches and Their Leaders

Here's a truth that many will find hard to swallow, but many small church pastors can take comfort in.

It is possible to have a very healthy church and not see butts-in-the-seats growth as a result of it.

It is possible to have a very healthy church and not see butts-in-the-seats growth as a result of it.

That doesn't mean you won't or can't see growth. You may. Hopefully you will. But it does mean that lack of numerical growth is not, in itself, evidence of an unhealthy church.

Yes, all healthy things grow. But my physical body hasn't grown beyond 6' 6" since I was in my early 20s. That doesn't mean I stopped being healthy at that point. I still grow. But now I grow in other ways. Spiritually, emotionally, mentally and more. It's the same for churches.

If your church isn't healthy, work on that. Get a better balance among the essential elements of a healthy church.

But if your church is healthy, don't let lack of numerical growth convince you it's not.

Keep at it. Dig even deeper into other, more important areas of growth. Reach out, in, up and down. And thank God for your healthy small church.

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The views of the blogger do not necessarily reflect those of Christianity Today.

June 02, 2015 at 6:27 AM

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