This is part nine in a continuing series, Is Church Growth the Highway to Hell?
One of the arguments I hear again and again against the whole idea of church growth is that it’s synthetic. It’s manufactured. It leaves God out of the equation and is a man-made process, and by definition doomed to failure (though said failure may not be visible in the number of people who show up on Sunday morning).
And I agree. Synthetic church growth sucks.
However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t optimize every possible angle to make sure your church does grow. God ultimately makes a plant grow, but a gardener would be foolish to deprive his plant of water, sun and soil for fear that he’s manufacturing growth. The growth will happen if the conditions are right, so why not make what conditions we can right?
And God is still involved in each of those decisions. Trying to bring people to Jesus should never be about mindlessly following a set formula. We certainly have to do our part, and that may mean following a standard formula, but we also need to rely on God to work through that formula. Notice that the reliance is on God, not the formula, and as long as we rely on God there’s nothing wrong with the formula.
It’s the same with our marketing efforts. They’re are nothing if God isn’t working through them. Our sermons are nothing if God isn’t speaking through them. Our multimedia presentations are nothing if God isn’t in them. Our outreach strategy is nothing if God doesn’t make it happen. And if we rely on any of those things and not God we’re doomed to fail.
It’s like breathing. Life doesn’t work so well if we forget to breathe. That’s how I see the role of God in church growth–or any of the marketing and communications we talk about. It’s so central it’s easy to overlook, but without it we’re dead.
But when it happens, it’s like when God breathed humanity out of the dust.