Evaluate Your Church Growth
Is your local assembly experiencing exponential church growth with new faces joining every week?
Now, what are we doing to “make disciples” (Matthew 28:19) – train our new brothers and sisters on how to take up their cross, and follow Jesus (Matthew 16:24)?
Hmm. Not a popular selling point?
While quantity over discipleship will never be an indicator of true growth in the Kingdom of God, for the ‘local church’, many lean to their roll books and mega-programs as a sign of “we must be doing something right.”
Pastors, leaders, teammates – this is where we can fall short.
God is not concerned with the crowd size of our local assemblies – but how well we conform to His Word, mature in the unity of our faith, and increase our knowledge of the fullness of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 4:13). As a matter of fact, God is well aware that the numbers are reflective of the many tares in our churches that He will separate at the appointed time (Matthew 13:30).
Think about this:
- When should we be concerned about the numbers?
- All church growth isn’t bad – but is all church growth good?
- When church growth is evident, do we ever evaluate the “what, how, why” of the draw or popularity?
Tares Gone Wild
We are living in the last days, teammates. And as such, we are given signs in our playbook that mark this time of peril (2 Timothy 3). Unfortunately, the local church is not immune to these signs. As a matter of fact, whenever and wherever imperfect humans gather, you will have imperfections, drama, and trouble.
When these signs creep into our churches, often the result is NOT a declination in church attendance or a massive church exodus. On the contrary, we are seeing more and more of our local churches – not becoming houses of prayer – but becoming large gatherings of “like-minded individuals.”
Have you noticed an uptick in “spiritual gatherings” that infuse Bible teaching with witchcraft? How many congregations are drifting from the simplicity of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and ‘winning souls’ through gimmicks, signs, and wonders?
Because our natural response to an itch is to want it scratched (2 Timothy 4:3), the masses will always seek solace in local assemblies that try to conform the Word of God to their lifestyle.
Take a look at the following forms of perverted church growth; take note as to why the masses would possibly come from near and far.
Factors of Church Growth For the Great Falling Away
1. Self-Love is My Religion.
Yes, God wants us to have a healthy dose of self-love (Romans 12:3). Be aware, Team – a perverted emphasis on self-love, e.g., self-greatness, your “divine self”, your “inner goddess/god”, “me and mine” positions you as an idol competing against God (2 Timothy 3:2). It is also counterproductive to our pursuit of unity in the body – where no one member thinks that he or she is more important than another (Romans 12:5). This mix of new age promotion of “Self over everything and everybody” is a trick of the enemy and leaves no room to need a Savior – since we’re too busy being the “god” of ourselves.
2. Paper-Chasing Churches.
Yes, God gives us the power to gain wealth for covenant purposes (Deuteronomy 8:18), and it takes financial resources to do ministry on many scales. However, is every service and sermon geared towards the proclamation of “money coming“, or teaching that only true Christians are financially rich (1 Timothy 6:5)? Do people flock to your church to be the next lottery winner from God? Woe to you, church leaders, who prey on the desperation of the unfortunate – those who often give their very last in search of God’s blessed gifts.
3. Team ‘Do Whatever Makes YOU Happy.’
How many of you have heard the testimonies, “I was never truly happy until I became my authentic self.” “So, do what makes you happy; don’t let anyone keep you from happiness.” Often, that “anyone” includes God! You have to admit, being “happy” is a great draw and selling point, and self-denial in today’s society is so passé, yes?
In Ezekiel 13:22 NLT, God speaks against the prophets of Israel for falsely “…encouraging the wicked by promising them life, even though they continue in their sins.”
Sin-affirming and sin-ignoring churches are growing by leaps and bounds – no deep explanation needed. Woe to you pastors and leaders who are committing fornication and adultery with women (and men) in your congregations! Woe to you pastors and church leaders who violate children, the least of these, and rob them of their innocence in the name of obedience to ‘God’s servant’! Woe to you LGBTQ-approving churches who have mastered the art of acceptance without the call to repentance!
While God wants us to prosper and be in good health, there are so many things that make us “happy” that would destroy our souls (3 John 1:2). God desires that we be Holy, above being happy, and find unspeakable joy and peace through Jesus Christ.
So, What’s the Play Call?
For pastors and church leaders: Grow your churches right by rightly dividing the Word of Truth. Practice living the truth, allow God to purge you as you speak the Word of truth over God’s flock.
New, current, and future teammates: There are loving, gospel-centered local churches out there just for you. Pray that God will direct your path – not to the non-existent “perfect church” – but to the church that is perfect to perfect your walk with Christ.
Don’t be discouraged by church drama and confusion – the local assembly is a target of the enemy, but he is already destroyed by the blood of Jesus Christ, and he will be crushed under the feet of God’s children (1 John 3:8, Romans 16:20).