Church growth is an essential element in the Great Commission. But bigger churches are not.
This is not an anti-big-church rant. I love big churches. They're great. They're like padded seats, air conditioning and microphones. They can all be valuable tools, but they’re not essential to fulfilling the mandate Jesus gave us to go and make disciples.
There are a lot of pastors who don't recognize that. For too many of my pastoral peers, church growth equals bigger churches. Period.
Don’t Make Bigger Churches Without Making Disciples
Recently I’ve read some blog posts and had some conversations about breaking church growth barriers.
Most of them have reaffirmed that most pastors are strong advocates of church health as a necessary precursor to church growth.
But there’s a minority who haven’t gotten that memo yet.
I actually read a grow-the-church-at-any-cost blog post recently that was so extreme I was waiting for the twist that told me it was a satirical article like you read at Lark News or The Babylon Bee. Unfortunately, the twist never came.
(I won’t be linking to any of the posts in question. This is about content and I don’t want it to become personal.)
Church Growth at What Cost?
After reading one recent blog post, I realized that everything in it was true. Doing all the steps would give most churches a decent chance to get bigger. They obviously worked for the pastor who wrote it.
So what’s the problem? Of the 10+ points mentioned, none of them involved church health, discipleship, prayer or any other essential element of church life. In fact, several points advised pastors to take some very unhealthy steps to produce numerical growth.
That advice might bring numerical growth. But at what cost?
No, there is no cost too high to pay for the salvation of souls. But there is a cost too high to pay for bigger churches.
Church Growth Isn't Worth It When:
1. It's Only About Increased Attendance
When church growth happens through making converts and equipping disciples, I'm in. All the way.
But too much of the advice I’ve seen lately diverts our limited time, energy and funds from the task of disciple-making into the goal of attendance increase.
If it’s only about bigger churches, without the essential elements of evangelism and discipleship, that's where you lose me.
When we emphasize good things (a growing church) over the best things (making disciples) we’re trading down, not up.