STOP Pursuing Church Growth and Church Health, Instead…

By Dennis Turner, Directory of Leadership Development

Foresight 2020

It is said that “hindsight is 20/20.” True. But with God, so is FORESIGHT! The goal for my 2019 District Advance articles is to help position us to more closely follow the Lord’s foresight. He knows where He’s going!

STOP pursuing Church Growth and Church Health, instead…

In case you didn’t know this about me, before coming to the District office, I served as a pastor for 25 years. When I was a pastor, it was difficult to think about anything but church health and church growth! When our church grew too fast, we ran the risk of being superficial (the “mile wide, one inch deep” type thing). But when we weren’t growing, we all suspected that something was wrong (healthy things grow, right?).

My wife, Lori, and I have been blessed to visit over 20 Central District churches so far, and we’ve greatly enjoyed getting to know many of you and your people better. Interestingly, a common conversation continues to surface about both church growth and health. So here’s my challenge: STOP pursuing church growth and church health! Yes, you heard that right. The District Director of Church Health said to STOP pursuing church growth and health.

Pursuing church growth and health doesn’t work, not practically and not biblically.

The primary growth metric in most churches and denominations remains Sunday worship attendance. And a great deal of church growth in our nation comes through transfer growth. Question: do attendance figures alone tell us anything substantive about our ministry?

Over the past few decades, the definition of church health has been relegated to three factors: making sure 1) everyone is happy and fed, 2) finances and resources are stewarded well, and 3) ministries are staffed adequately. While church leaders may say that church health is more than that, those factors continue to drive our energies and evaluations. Question: are those factors the best measure of health?

WHAT IF trying to get more people INTO THE CHURCH was actually PREVENTING church growth?

WHAT IF trying to recruit more volunteers to serve AT THE CHURCH was actually LIMITING church health?

It’s like the little boy I saw on America’s Funniest Home Videos. This toddler sat on the floor with clenched fists and teeth, his eyes squeezed shut, and his little muscles were strained and tensed. When asked what he was doing, he replied, “I’m trying to grow!” And then he’d try it again… and again...

To be sure, I believe we need church growth and health and that both are God’s will. But the Bible is clear that only God can actually make things grow (see 1 Corinthians 3:6-7; Acts 6:7; 9;31; 12;24; 19:20), and only Jesus, as the Head, can make the Body healthy (Ephesians 1:22; 4:15-16; Colossians 1:18; 2:19).  

So what should we start pursuing? We should start pursuing church mobilization. Intrigued as to what that means? If so, please email my assistant, Janie Hill at jhill@cdcma.org to begin the journey toward church mobilization.