Guest Post – Pastor John Cross (YJC) – When God's Kingdom Doesn't Grow

Posted on September 18, 2008

There’s a lot of discussion these days regarding explosively growing churches, and growing churches in general. When I hear these stories, though, I like to ask two questions. The first one is easy: "Who are these churches trying to reach?" The second question stings a little: "Who are they actually reaching?"

I don’t think I’ve met a pastor yet who would not say they want to reach those who are without Christ. Yet, when you start looking at the hard data, you often discover that the vast majority of numerical growth is transfer growth. But really, that’s not even growth. When people leave one  church to join another church, God’s Kingdom does not grow.

And this kind of "sheep shuffling" takes place in new paradigm churches as much, if not more, than in traditional churches. It’s frightening to see how many of the new paradigm churches are simply "cool church" for people who grew up in church!

Again, I’ve never met anyone who says this is their goal. Yet, when you study the names and stories behind the numbers, you discover that this is far too often true.

To find out if your church is sheep shuffling, look at the baptism numbers. If the baptism numbers aren’t climbing significantly higher and faster than the numerical growth, most likely the "growth" is transfer rather than conversion growth.

In order for a church to truly grow, not just swap sheep, she must continually transition toward a missional church culture. And to be truly missional, we’ve got to ask these hard questions and deal with these difficult topics. Otherwise it’s like we are rearranging the furniture and changing the music on the Titanic as it sinks. We’ve changed things around and a few are being rescued. But the vast majority is still dying lost.

What are your thoughts?

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