This is going to seem really basic.
That’s because it is.
Most pastors don’t take the time to ask themselves a simple question.
Why do I want my church to grow?
It’s a question so basic that it’s like asking a fish how the water feels today.
What’s water? They’d probably respond.
That’s how commonplace and assumed church growth is.
Vision drifts when values are assumed instead of experienced.
So this assumed value of church growth. What’s it all about?
Why do you as a pastor actually want your church to grow?
The church growth market is a multi-million dollar industry. Books. Seminars. Courses. Conferences. Consulting.
People have made fortunes on this cottage industry.
Disclaimer. Church growth is not bad. That would be a ridiculous idea. What’s the opposite of growth? Death.
Definitely not advocating for church death.
Healthy things grow. That’s a basic truth of the way God has designed our world. So yes your church should absolutely expect and try to grow. And yes, God absolutely commanded believers with the Great Commission (interestingly a phrase never used in the Bible) to take the gospel to the ends of the earth.
Yet, nowhere is numeric individual church growth promised or even implicitly hinted at in the New Testament. It’s a good idea. Just not explicitly Biblical.
Nowhere did Moses, King David, Jesus, Paul, or Peter say “Thou shall grow they flock by 10% a year in perpetuity.”
Nearly every time a church grows explosively in the Bible, they quickly disperse and scatter to other areas.
Not exactly a recipe for building a bigger auditorium.
So we ask the question again.
Why do you want your church to grow?
90% of churches are under 150 members
That’s not an accident. It’s caused by the relational way God wired us as humans.
150 is the most substantial relationships that the average person can have. It’s the ceiling of our personal sociological wiring.
We’ll write on this topic more in the coming weeks but here’s a thought that we want to haunt you a little bit.
What if the things that a “bigger church” seems to promise in terms of quality of life were possible in a church of 150 or less?
What if you could not have to worry about salaries, not have to worry about lacking leaders to share the burden, and not have to worry about the judgement of other pastors who have larger churches?
To completely rip off/spin a quote from the rapper Notorious B.I.G.
Mo people. Mo problems.
That’s a deep, deep truth. More people doesn’t solve anything in terms of your contentedness as a leader.
More people won’t free up more time to spend with your family.
It won’t help you overcome your isolation or lack of hobbies.
More people won’t necessarily help you meet you budget. (Remember more people means more money you need to spend.)
More people won’t help you be seen as more loved or faithful or special in the eyes of Jesus.
So why do you want your church to grow? Seriously. Why?
Maybe it’s to better impact and reach your community.
Maybe it’s to have more resources to reach the nations.
Maybe it’s to be a beacon of social change in your community by seeing the Gospel deeply move more people.
Good reasons. But understand that it’s not the gifting of every pastor to grow a church to four figures.
For some pastors you simply need to stop obsessing over church growth. It’s crushing your soul. You’re constantly reworking your visions, team, and time to try to get something to happen that may not ever be in the cards for you. By constantly wishing for this idealistic goal of a big church you’re no better than the college girl making herself miserable by looking at photos of Kendall Jenner’s BMW on Instagram.
If God chooses to grow your church then great. If not that’s great too.
But ask yourself honestly. Why do I want my church to grow?