There’s no question that the trajectory that God expects from the people that he has left on this Earth is for growth. It is literally the last thing that he told His disciples to do, and while growth doesn’t always mean numerical growth for a local body of believers, it does mean that every believer should be growing in godliness. Jesus’ allusion to being the true vine shows that God empowers the believer to bring forth fruit, but if there is no fruit then there is a serious issue.
The first thing that we need to analyze before even beginning to think through how to grow the local body of Christ is the question of why we are doing it. There are many poor reasons for pursuing church growth:
- Remembering the glory days
- Looking to continue to do the things we used to do
- Feeling of loss
There are also many others . The pure motives for church growth fit along the line of wanting to see disciples grow in their faith, wanting to see lives changed, victory over sin, and the Word of God proclaimed.
If these things are the destination, then everything that we do—every program, every outreach, every endeavor must be evaluated based on these criteria.
Also, key to this discussion is an understanding of priority in the plan. The priority of an activity will be influenced by whether our main goal is the growth (numerically or otherwise) of our local body of believers, or whether we desire to see all area churches growing.
We must answer the question, do we care that it a church down the street is being ministered by us, and how much do we care? Do we care if we put effort into communities other than our own?
Only after this analysis can we know how to evaluate the ministries that we have, whether they are effective to our goals, or whether we need to pursue other ones.
Lastly, we must be willing to understand that this will necessitate change. We cannot continue to do the things that we are doing, for if this worked, we would not be in the situation we are in. Continuing to repeat things from the past expecting different results is foolishness.