Think of the Wegman’s cookie aisle. Varieties of flavors and sizes. Range of prices. The relative health benefit, or negative health impact, of the cookies. But who reads those labels? Some do. Not me. A cookie is a cookie is a cookie. I know what I like and what I don’t. I’m not a child who stalls out in the presence of too many choices. Make the choice and check out. It’s just ... cookies.
Missional. Attractional. CoWo. Multi-site. Mega. Emergent. Diffuse-Cell Network. Radical Plant. Neighbor Friendly. Ancient Orthodox. Sunrise Traditional. The varieties, positives and negatives of church growth are mind-boggling. I will neither criticize nor affirm any particular church growth model in this limited space. Biblically, theologically and ethically they are not all equal. Discernment is needed.
Overwhelmed by the variety of approaches to Church Growth what’s a local church to do? We are not children. Church Growth is not the perfect bowl of porridge. The local church is not Goldilocks simply picking between too little, too much and just right. I suggest going further back up the decision-making trail. We need to make a prior commitment.
Jesus commissioned His apostles to make disciples throughout the world and to the end of the age. His was an open-ended command: “Do this until I return.”
The ultimate cause of growth is the determination of God: “only God ... gives the growth.” (1 Co. 3.7) The sole means of disciple-making is the gospel message of Jesus: “for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 3.12)
The New Testament offers different motivations for gospel proclamation: obedience, gratitude, compassion, ambition, love for souls, fear for souls, responsibility, obligation. History reports different rates of growth, from ‘barely’ to ‘robust.’ Not all church growth lasted for multiple generations.
When considering church growth we are not Goldilocks sampling bowls of church growth porridge. Standing solely upon the gospel, we will Biblically and prayerfully determine the strategy we will pursue. But first we must embrace this Biblical truth: God wants His kingdom to grow.
We must want this, too.