by Tracy Jaggers
I just completed speaking for two Church Revitalization Labs with the Southern Baptst of Texas Convention. During the first lab I was asked by a pastor, “Do you believe God expects every church to grow numerically?” My first response was to thoughtlessly blurt out, “Yes,” but I restrained myself and responded cautiously by asking if I could get back to him during the next break. Between that question and the lunch break, I researched for the biblical response, and here is how I answered: I firmly believe….
1) Every God-called pastor sincerely wants his church to grow.
2) The Great Commission verifies that this is the mission of the church.
3) A lack of growth is not natural – someone who is mentally and/or physically challenged is known to be abnormal and is diagnosed with a type of disorder.
But What May Be Hindering a Rebound in your Church?
1) A pastor who wants to be the sole care-giver – the church is a body that is expected to work TOGETHER. You and I are not to be Lone Rangers.
2) A Lack of Vision on the part of the leader and/or congregation.
3) A Lack of Planning, Strategy, Process, Systems, etc.
4) Workers who are untrained and/or unempowered to do the work of the ministry.
5) A leader who Micromanages – nothing happens without his approval and therefore, nothing happens!
6) Too many meetings, or worthless, unproductive meetings.
7) A lack of adherence to the mission, values, vision and purpose of the church.
8) An Internal focus rather than an external, community-centered focus.
We usually falter and fail because we’re not growing in maturity and unity. In a speech given to the Presbyterians for Renewal, Mark D. Roberts, Executive Director of the Max De Pree Center for Leadership at Fuller Seminary, pastor and author, said, “One cannot read Ephesians with an open mind and not conclude that the church of Jesus Christ is supposed to be growing in size as well as strength.” I concur!
Ephesians 4:14-16 says, As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.
Even Jesus, in Luke 2:52, “kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and favor with men (italics mine).” As our perfect example, we see that He grew in all aspects as well.
Growth is not confined to one dimension of the Body of Christ, just as it is not confined to one dimension of our own individual life. If we grow physically, but not mentally, we are abnormal. If we are not growing physically, mentally, socially, relationally, etc. we are looked upon as abnormal. We, as the Body of Christ, are to be maturing/growing spiritually, socially, relationally, evangelistically, economically, numerically, etc. in unified effort. The church that is not growing in every aspect is abnormal and has a problem that must be diagnosed and corrected.