Why Spiritual and Numeric Growth Are Both Good
Recently I drew a continuum on a white board. At the left end I wrote “low” and at the right end I wrote “high.” Then I asked a group of committed Christians, “How much impact would you say the church is having on the culture today? I’m going to start at the left end and slide my hand across this continuum. Please raise your hand when you think I’m at the right spot.”
As soon as I began to move everyone erupted, “Stop!” They thought the church was having little impact on culture.
Then I drew another continuum. I wrote “cold” at the left end, “lukewarm” in the middle, and “hot” at the right end. I asked the same group, “What would you say is the temperature of the church today?” As I slid my hand from left to right, most hands went up at “lukewarm.”
There are a lot of thriving churches today that really “get it,” but many more that don’t (which is perplexing since the final marching order Jesus left for us to follow was quite clear, Matthew 28:18-20). What do churches that get it understand which churches that don’t “get it” have yet to grasp? One thing they understand is that an essential key to vitality, health, and joy is growth–personal and numeric growth. They understand that spiritual and numeric growth are the ethos of Scripture (e.g., Acts). They believe growth is good. And they understand that the only way to grow, and to sustain growth, is to make disciples.
It is a mistake to “spiritualize” a lack of fruit by claiming that we need to “be” not “do.” We need both! Quiet ourselves before God? Yes, but not only that. Jesus said, “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples” (John 15:8). A necessary evidence of authentic discipleship is producing fruit (both the fruit of the Spirit and the fruit of good works).
Let us put aside superficial arguments about whether or not numeric growth is good. Let us not lose sight that personal spiritual growth is good. They are both more than good, they are essential. They are more than opinion, they are Scripture. The temperature of the church and it’s impact on culture depends on both.
How about you:
- How much impact do you think the church is having on the culture?
- What do you think is the temperature of your church?
- What is the attitude of your church toward spiritual and numeric growth?
- Is your church committed to making disciples?
Together in the Battle for Men’s Souls,