Church Growth

In the last two decades, the topic of church growth has received a ton of discussion. Most of the time, when you're talking about "church growth," you're either directly or indirectly talking about the size of the congregation. To a point, that's a really good conversation to have.

The church is an organism, and growth is important for any organism. We take my son into the pediatrician on a regular basis for "well baby checkups" to make sure he is growing and developing normally. Always, one of the critical metrics the doctor checks is his size. If Casen stops growing during this point of his life, it will be a sure sign that something is not going well. Growth is important. Same for the church.

However, at some point organisms are no longer expected to grow (size-wise). Beyond that point, any growth the organism experiences is usually unhealthy growth. As a twenty-nine year old, my doctor gets concerned when I do grow. He measures my waistline and looks for tumors or other abnormal unhealthy growth.

I wonder if we shouldn't talk about "church maturity" instead of "church growth." Organisms never stop maturing even after the stop growing. Growth is a part of maturity but not the goal or focus of maturity. It's more of a byproduct.

I also wonder if thinking about the church this way might not allow us to focus on growth for a season as a temporary part of the maturity process while a church is young, before beginning to think about other facets of maturity such as development and reproduction - topics that often get lost in the growth focus.


elenburg said...

I *totally* agree with you, but it goes against the Texas belief that bigger is better. Our consumer culture is consumed with more, bigger, better, whatever gets you to the next temporary high. Sad.