I have a pastor friend who goes to denominational meetings and one question is always asked, how big is your congregation. How this is important or relevant to the gospel I don’t know. Are they asking because they want to pray that congregation will grow? Are they asking so they can secretly say to themselves that their membership roll is bigger or become envious of the pastors who have a bigger congregation? I thought comparing the size of one’s portfolio was what the world did.
I am part of a church that is currently growing rapidly. We are on the verge of occupying a new building and we will probably outgrow that building in a few years. I believe we just breached 1,000 attendees a weekend on average. But that is not the important part. The important part is that people are being fed and they are being nurtured and allowed room to grow in Christ. What worries me is, in the future as my church grows, how many people attending that church will be there for the prestige of saying that I go to such and such church in this town? I found the church by accident on a drive-by, went to their website, and discussed it with my wife. We went and we loved it and become a part of the church by volunteering and attending small groups. We don’t go because we want to be knows by the church we go to. In fact, our pastor does not want other people to come the church if they are currently active members of another church. He wants to let the Spirit draw them in.
The sad part in all of this is multitude of books regarding church growth. Ideas on what programs to have available and what type of music and this gimmick and that sideshow and maybe a fireworks show or perhaps a carnival are offered. Perhaps the neighborhood enjoys the entertainment value of the gimmicks but it is the content of the message and integrity of the church’s congregants that really attract people. Why are we worrying about how to grow the size of a particular church when we should be more concerned about how to cause spiritual growth instead. People will come and go but it is the consistency of the message based on the truth of the gospel preached in love is what will keep people coming. One can preach the truth and one can preach love but we are not going to make any converts unless both are working in unity and harmony. As a church we must proclaim the brutal truth of the gospel in love as it relates to the sin condition of mankind and show the grace and mercy of the Father through His Son Jesus Christ without turning into legalists in regards to truth and liberalists in regards to love.