Dec 12, 2007

Is there such a thing as a Healthy non-growing church?

Does a church necessarily have to grow in order to be a healthy church?

Could there be a church that is spiritually healthy, and where the members love one another and take care of one another, but there is no numerical growth?

Is numerical growth really a viable way to track the health of a congregation? Aren't things like one's commitment to Jesus and one's personal relationship with Jesus more important for the spiritual health of a church?

While very interesting, I think these are the wrong questions to be asking. These are the wrong questions because we have somehow come to believe that we human beings can be the church without being the body of Christ. Because if we are the body of Christ, we must necessarily be about the ministry and the mission of Jesus Christ. Therefore, the question that needs to be asked is, "Can one be a Christ-follower and not be like Christ?"

I don't see how it is even conceivable that one could be a Christ-follower and not be engaged with the lives of other people to lead them to a relationship with Jesus.

It is impossible to grow in the knowledge of the word and in spiritual matters without also being concerned about how to engage the world which Jesus came to die for.

It is impossible to be faithful to Jesus Christ without also being faithful to His mission and ministry.

Christ-followers engage the world because Jesus came to love that world.

Numerical growth is not the goal of the church or the Christ-follower. Numerical growth is the by-product, the result, of transformed lives. And transformed lives are the result of coming into a relationship with Jesus Christ. When people encounter the living Christ, transformation happens. And when transformation happens, the fruit of that is growth in numbers.

In healthy congregations, because Jesus is present, people regularly encounter Jesus Christ. And because they are encountering the living Christ in those healthy congregations, those congregations grow.

In my humble opinion, the only way a church can be healthy and not grow is if everyone in the world were Christ-followers. And as long as there is one who doesn't know Jesus, the church of Jesus Christ has a mission.

This may not be the popular view. But show me one place in the Bible where the non-growing, declining church is the norm. It's simply not there.

If our churches are not growing, it's we who need to change and must be transformed to become one that is.

Christ-follower, when was the last time you introduced Jesus to someone, or led people to a deepening relationship with Jesus Christ? Can you name ten people who have come to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior because of you? five? one?

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