Currently, church growth is a hot topic for many congregations of the Lord’s church and rightly so. First, because it was the desire of the first century church, and second, because today, many congregations close their doors each year. Therefore, this interest and desire for growth is very encouraging. Certainly, we should like to see this hunger and thirst for evangelism, instead of apathy among our brethren. Yet, the question must be asked, what is growth?
The Scriptures teach church growth as a two-fold concept. Jesus Christ desires His church to grow spiritually and numerically. In fact, these two aspects complement one another. Where there is spiritual growth, there will be numerical growth. Therefore, when we stop growing spiritually, we will stop growing numerically.
We will grow spiritually by a consistent diet of feeding from the word (1 Pet. 2:1-3; 3:17-18). A congregation that does not feed from the word regularly can never grow spiritually (Heb. 5:12). In addition, spiritual growth is manifested as we grow together in the Lord. We are members working together and complementing one another as individual joints in the grand body of Christ (Eph. 4:15-16). Therefore, by working together, we not only help one another grow spiritually, but we also help the congregation grow numerically.
Numerical growth is an easy concept to understand when it is based upon the Scriptures. It is a blessing from God and occurs only when souls are added to the church by Him (Ac. 2:47). God has determined that only through a preaching and teaching of the gospel will souls be called out of darkness (2 Thess. 2:14) and added to Christ’s kingdom (Col. 1:13; Ac. 2:38-41). In addition, souls are added based on obedience to the gospel message that they have heard. Therefore, numerical growth cannot occur without the gospel being taught and obeyed (1 Cor. 1:18-21).
This being true, the church will grow numerically when we are found serving the Lord. On the other hand, we will grow spiritually when we remain faithful (Matt. 13:30; 36-43), work together (Eph. 2:21), and stand for the truth (1 Tim. 3:15). In the end, if we teach the pure word of God, regardless of the response, we will grow, and the victory will be in Christ (2 Tim. 2:14-17)