True Growth

One of my early business teachers pointed to a truth that has stayed with me many years through many Silicon Valley booms and busts—the only true growth is growth in profits.

We have lived through a period of church history, not only in the United States, but also in many other areas of the world, where churches were measured in terms of growth in attendance or maybe membership. We’ve seen the growth in numbers of “megachurches” led by charismatic and driven men striving for earthly success. There are doctoral degrees in church growth.

Forty years of megachurch growth in the US. And then the pandemic. People were told not to mingle in order to arrest the spread of the disease clogging hospital emergency facilities. We are now at least six months into an opening of society. But megachurches, and indeed all churches, are reporting quietly a 50% decline in attendance and financial support.

But, I ask, are those the important numbers?

If real growth in business is growth in profits (not sales), then what should a church be “measuring?” Perhaps a church should be know for the increasing spiritual development of its members along with the outward and visible sign—actions pleasing to Jesus, their leader. Things like binding the wounds and providing care for the traveler (story of the Good Samaritan), feeding the poor (doing for the least of these…), caring for the prisoner, and the other examples and instructions from Jesus.

James told us the two are linked—growing in spirit and serving others.

Does it matter if a church has 50,000 with a well-paid staff or 50 struggling souls? Does it matter the positive impact on the world around them?

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