I have been part of around four churches in my life. Some of these churches have grown. Some have held steady. Some have actually declined. I’ve wondered why in each instance.
Most of the time, though, I have been a part of a church that just held steady. If I graphed one in particular over a 10 year period, while there would be blips of growth, it would basically be in the same place. That causes me to wonder, why doesn’t this church really grow. I think there are three possible answers.
In 1 Corinthians 3, Paul said that he planted, Apollos watered, but God caused the growth. If Paul was willing to give God the credit for the growth of a church, shouldn’t we also be willing to attribute the non-growth or decline as well? Why would He do that? I’ll explore that a bit more below, but if I believe that He is in control, then I have to be willing to say that, for some reason, He does not have growth in mind for certain churches.
Note that before God caused the growth, there were godly men who were planting and watering. You had two men in Paul and Apollos who were preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. In other words, they were focused on one thing, or one Person, in their message. Is that true in all of our churches today?
I don’t think so. Many leaders today are concerned with anything but the same thing, the one thing, that Paul and Apollos were concerned with in their preaching: Christ.
I’m going to break away from 1 Corinthians for this one. Ephesians 2 tells us that we were dead in our trespasses, but have been made alive. 2 Corinthians 5: 17 says that if we ar in Christ we are new creatures. It could be possible that one reason that a church isn’t growing is because it’s made up of dead people who are not new creatures. In other words, people who have been in church, but have not come to salvation in Christ. Dead people make a dead church. I have a friend who says that you can’t teach pigs to sing. If you haven’t been made a new creature, then I don’t see how there can be growth.
Hopefully, your church is growing. If not, take a step back and try to figure out why it isn’t. It probably isn’t a new program that you need. You probably don’t need a new vision. It could be one of the three reasons I listed above.
Is your church growing? Why or why not?