How to Make a Church Grow

This is an article written by Keith Brenton.

How to Make a Church Grow.

Don’t try. Okay, that would be my first post shorter than its title, but I’m tempted to leave it at that. Here’s what I mean, though: Don’t make church growth your goal. Make your goal preaching Christ, making disciples, putting people to God’s work with the help of His Holy Spirit. The church that results from that will grow, if the seed finds receptive soil and God gives the growth. Keep watering. Plant more seed; the Word — you know.

Don’t worry about uplifting worship times, awesome praise teams or incredibly gifted worship bands or dynamic speakers or cool videos or  special programs or targeted ministries or awesome marketing or a big, sprawling building or sufficient parking or offering seeker services or traditional services or progressive services. Some of that may come, but fend it off as long as you can.

Tell them about Jesus. Show them Jesus. Win them to Jesus. Demonstrate to them how they are visiting Him in jail; how they are clothing His nakedness and feeding His hunger. When they have worked side by side with each other and with the Spirit, they will want to gather in praise, as often and as devotedly as possible.

People who can see the work of God – the work He is doing through them; in partnership with them – when they see that work in the lives of others … they’ll see it in their own lives too and you won’t be able to shut them up when it comes time for worship. Or any other time. It will well up from within them like a spring of living water. Just stand back and thank God when it happens and you get caught in the spray.

You may not be able to limit them to just meeting on Sundays to worship together. They might just open their hearts and their homes and their dinner tables and their earnings to each other. They might sell their possessions and give to those who have need until no one among them has need anymore.

I know all this sounds too good to be true. I know it sounds like a pipe dream. I know it sounds all but impossible. But it also sounds a lot like the last few verses of Acts 2, and well into Acts 3 and 4. And it also sounds like what Jesus said about nothing being impossible with God (Matthew 19:26; Mark 10:27; Luke 18:27).

I can’t tell you how much I appreciate these thoughts. We recently shared this same idea with our Church family. We took it a small step forward though. We have one of those old-school attendance boards at the front of our auditorium. You know, the one that has the attendance and contribution numbers for the past couple of weeks. We would have just taken it completely down. But it’s been up there for a while (probably over 30 years), so I wasn’t sure what was under it or what would happen if I tried to take it down. So we did the next best thing . . . we replaced the attendance numbers with the number one. So now, last weeks’ attendance and today’s attendance reads “1”.

It’s so easy to get caught up in numbers. What does a number mean anyways? Really, it’s just a way to gauge our success and feel good about ourselves. That’s not what we should be about. As a family we’ve determined to be about the next Soul that God sends our way. Jesus would have died for one. So everything we’re going to do, worry over and plan for is the next one that God sends our way. Nothing more, nothing less.

Here’s the way we brought it home. Let’s say that we experience growth that we can notice and feel good about. Slowly the auditorium becomes more and more full. It’s harder to find a parking spot and our favorite seat always seems to be taken by a visitor. That’s terrific! But here’s the problem. While the preacher is applauding the growth from the pulpit and the Elders are feeling good about their leadership, there’s a middle-aged couple sitting in the back whose oldest son left the Church, God and his faith years ago. And after their prayers each night, that Mom cries herself to sleep knowing that her son is lost.

When you put yourselves in their shoes, those great numbers really don’t seem to matter as much. Yes, we will celebrate each success and praise God each step of the way. But we will never forget that Christ came to die for each one of us. And until He returns there will always be another lost son searching for his way home.


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