By Ben Simpson
Are you gearing up for growth? Brothers and sisters, we are heading into the fall of the year, which is a prime time for church growth. I’m so excited to see what God is going to do!
Perhaps you’ve not thought about it in this way, but there are at least five different types of church growth. One type is “biological growth,” which I like to call “baby growth.” It’s when the physical church family grows through the birth of children or adoption. Now don’t think that I’m going all Presbyterian on you here. While these children are not part of the Kingdom of God or the New Covenant until they come to Jesus, they are nevertheless an important part of the local church family. I can’t wait to meet the new bundles of joy that God is bringing to our churches through Christian moms and dads and look forward to leading them to Jesus!
Sadly, Christians are less and less focusing on this type of growth while false religions major in this area. Christians having or adopting babies certainly doesn’t guarantee Kingdom growth, but it certainly does guarantee Kingdom influence. This type is one that we Christians need to revisit and think serious on.
A second type is “transfer growth.” This type of growth happens when Christians who are already connected to a church move to a new one. Transfer growth is like the red-headed step-child of church growth because it has such a negative connotation. Of course, we should not be out to steal sheep from other churches, but God has a tendency to move His people to local churches that are healthy and faithful in gospel ministry and discipleship and away from churches that aren’t. Therefore, we should rejoice when God sends Christians our way so that His sheep will be fed and put into position to make a greater impact on our community and world. And, when we have folks transferring out, we should take a long, hard look to see if we’re doing something wrong.
A third type of growth is what I call “reconnection growth.” There are many Christians around our cities who are truly followers of Christ but are just not connected to any church. Perhaps they’re new to the area. Most folks with children move into a new area during the summer before school starts and begin looking for a church in the fall. On the other hand, perhaps they are like the prodigal son who went wayward for a season of his life, and they are now returning to the faith they had once professed. These folks will be looking for a church home too. Of course, there are other scenarios as well, but whatever the case may be, some of our neighbors are looking to reconnect to the local church, and I unapologetically pray they find their way to our churches.
“Conversion growth,” which I like to call “Kingdom Growth,” is the fourth type. Friends, I like church growth of all kinds, but ultimately this kind should be our driving force. This type of growth happens when people are saved by repenting of sin and believing on Jesus Christ. We want to see more souls saved for Jesus through our church ministry! Therefore, we must be intentional and strategic and faithful and at the same time organic in our gospel ministry.
Finally is “internal growth.” This type of growth is not numerically measured because it happens as Christians become more like Jesus. As people get the teaching of Scripture poured into them and as they go live it out through serving others, their spiritual roots grow deeper in the faith and their branches of fruit grow higher toward heaven. It’s always a blessing to see this type of growth, and I pray that our churches see bushels of this sort.
So again, are you gearing up for growth this fall? I pray so. Pastors and key leaders should be planning many opportunities for their people to not only you grow spiritually, but also for their churches to grow numerically. However, every single one of us needs to see the role that we play in that growth. Growth takes work. Are you ready to put forth the effort it takes grow? I pray we are, as we look to the Lord of the Harvest to bring the growth.
Ben Simpson is the South Campus Pastor of Eastwood Baptist Church in Bowling Green, KY. He was saved by Jesus at the age of 17 and has been serving churches vocationally since 2002. He has a BA from Hanover College and a MDiv from the Southern Baptist Theology Seminary and is pursuing a DMin at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Other than knowing that Jesus is his savior, it is most important to know that he is the husband of Christy and father of Zachariah, Elijah, Elizabeth, Nathaniel, and Samuel. God has blessed magnificently! Ben’s personal blog is JBenSimpson.com, and he can be followed on Twitter here.
This article also appeared at SBCVoices.com.