I was trained in the Church Growth field of study.  I read almost every major book on the subject and wrote my doctoral dissertation about church growth.  This may come as a surprise to some of you seeing that I am a small church advocate.  I mean, a guy with a webpage called “Small Church Tools” couldn’t be too much into Church Growth thinking, so what gives.

  It is really very simple.  I took away the things that were true and useful and discarded the rest.  Isn’t that what everyone does with the things they learn in school?  And by the way, I have read some of the blogs out there that bash Church Growth theory as being the scourge of the modern church.  I don’t buy into that.  Nor do I think that churches need to get all hung up on the numbers game.  The key is to do the work God has given you to do and get out of the way so He can do the work that only He can do.

  With all that said I want to get to my topic—the Church Growth idea of “measurable results.”  Is this a Biblical idea?  Can it be applied to all churches?  Should it be avoided all together?

  First I would point out that the New Testament church kept count.  There were twelve apostles, over 500 eyewitnesses to the resurrection, 3,000 added on the day of Pentecost, etc.  The early church knew what the numbers were until things got so big that they couldn’t keep up—a great problem to have!

  But does that mean that attendance numbers, numbers of additions, and other measurable statistics are what the church is all about?  Any brief reading of the epistles easily refutes such an idea.  Donald McGavran, the founder of the Church Growth school of thought was disturbed that much of the work done on his mission field was not leading to conversions to Christ.  He felt that through sociological principles it would be possible to find data that could be measured, thus making one accountable for results or the lack thereof.

  I think there is much to be said for accountability.  I have seen many pastors who were not really doing much, act all pious when the subject came up that maybe there should be measurable results.  You have seen these guys.  I’m not talking about the hard working pastors who labor with all their might for God in small churches.  Those men are great heroes.  But not all pastors are like that and we all know it.  So perhaps some accountability for our work is not a bad idea.

  That being said, I fear that too many churches have fallen prey to the idea that the only way a church can grow is in numbers.  And as both a student of Church Growth and a small church advocate I can tell you that there are many, many (did I say many?) ways a church can grow and should grow that can never be measured.

  For example, if a church is seeing answers to prayer—that is growth.  If people are gaining a greater understanding of the Bible—that is growth.  If the discouraged are being lifted up—that is growth.  And the list could go on and on.  God’s idea of a great church has as much to do with the inner growth of the members as the outer growth of attenders.

  So is there a place for the idea of measurable results?  You bet!  But you have to come to grips with the fact that although as Church Growth states “God wants His lost sheep found” and of course that can be measured, it is also true that God wants His found sheep fed and that is not so easily seen.