“Under his direction, the whole body is fitted together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.” Ephesians 4:16
Church growth is not numerical first. The biblical idea of church growth is never about numbers, it is always about people. In this passage Paul talks about church growth without using a single statistic or number. Paul seems to be much more concerned about the growth of people rather than the numerical growth of the church. As leaders as we invest in the spiritual growth of our people, then will help the other parts grow. Our churches should be factories that build up our people into the likeness of Christ. Pouring the Scriptures into their lives, empowering them for Kingdom service, giving them eyes of ministry, living beyond themselves. When we do that the promise from Paul is that the whole body will be healthy and it will grow and it will be full of love. Aubrey Malphurs estimates that 65% of the people in our churches on a Sunday morning are not growing spiritually. No wonder so many churches are struggling. We can put together a great strategy, be on top of our game doing everything good, but if our people aren’t growing spiritually the church will not grow. Your church will never progress farther than your people’s walk with God.
Church growth is not a destination, it is a journey. You never will get to a place where you arrive or cross a finish line or grow your church enough to where you say, “OK, we are big enough. We will stop right here.” It is a journey that you as a leader have to lead your church to either begin or continue, but you never stop that journey, you never arrive, you keep journeying. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that we have to grow our church to a certain size and then we have pleased God. We must continue to encourage growth in our churches. We do this by growing our people and journeying in ministry with them making it our goal to be a little more effective every week.
Church growth is not about a particular strategy. I remember when Rick Warren came out with the Purpose Driven church in the mid 1990’s. All of a sudden everyone was being purpose driven as if that was the only way to grow a church. Nothing wrong with that model, it is a great model. But many pastors lost their jobs and their churches because they decided to make their rural Alabama church the next Saddleback church in the southeast. There is a way to enact change and there is a way to get yourself fired, they don’t have to be one in the same. A friend of mine took a rural church and decided that he was going to duplicate what we were doing in our church. He resigned 6 months later out of frustration and the people were glad to see him go.