“Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”
This passage gives three keys to the growth of a church ministry:
- Speak the truth in love. No compromise.
- Teach and train. Equip God’s people with essential knowledge and skills in order to grow in teleios. No consumers.
- Full engagement. Everyone does their part. No spectators.
Growth is a common goal for most ministries. However, it must be remembered that a successful church is not defined by size or popularity. Ministry should not be measured by nickels, numbers, and noses. Growth in depth and impact, not in size, should always be the goal.
The focus of a church should be on the spiritual growth of Christians, not the numerical growth of the ministry. In many respects, numerical growth is irrelevant. A church should maintain a laser focus on kingdom priorities and leave the growth element to the Lord.
Paul chastised the Corinthian church for losing sight of this fundamental principle. Factions and rivalries had emerged in the fellowship at Corinth, and the resulting division was damaging their unity and effectiveness.
“For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human? What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.” (1 Corinthians 3.4-6)
Note what the apostle says: God gives the growth. To make sure that we get the message, the following verses repeat the core message:
“So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.” (1 Corinthians 3.4-9)
Growth (first in depth and maturity, and then in impact) is the natural result of faithfulness to God, love for others, engagement with the community, and discipline in leading the ministry.
A successful church is one where the members individually and corporately are guided by the truth of God’s word and demonstrate observable love. A successful church is a fellowship of Christians characterized by an uncompromising commitment to God’s truth and a passionate love for God and for people.
A successful church first bears the fruit of the Spirit, and then bears the fruit of growth. As a result, it has a profound impact on the community it serves. It is a church that exists to glorify God and serve others.
With great honesty and courage, church leaders should ask: Are we seeking to grow larger at the expense of growing deeper? Remember: God gives the growth.