Church Growth or Gospel Growth?

The Trellis and The Vine is a book that has had a big impact on how I view “full time, vocational ministry”.

I’ve recently posted my thoughts on some of the mind shifts that have taken place in my own thinking.

The book often uses the phrase, “Gospel Growth”, and it was very helpful to see it’s distinction from what we would normally call “Church Growth”.

They don’t for a moment look down on numerical growth in the church; rather they seek a more critical approach to helping the reader understand what healthy growth should look like.

What comes into your mind when you hear the word growth? What does church growth look like to you?

In economics we learn that exporting and importing is a vital component to the real growth and development of a nation or people group.

Our tendency is to hoard.

Our western churches usually have large “front doors” with great systems for importing people, but when it comes to exporting it may be a different story. When and if exporting is intentionally happening, it is usually the highly gifted missionaries or church planters who are focused on.

When valuable folks who are trained arrive at the church we want to put them to work right away and encourage their loyalty for the long haul. Of course this is completely normal and often appropriate, but it doesn’t seem like we “hold people loosely”.

Perhaps there should be a mind-shift with how we view and define growth. We should seek kingdom-centered, gospel growth from the local level to the global level.

All people are to be both trained and sent. Some will stay and train and some will go and train, but training results in skilled people, and skilled people should be held loosely; stewarded for God’s kingdom in the world.

What would all this look like? I believe it would result in more church plants, less centralized mega churches, more ministries, missions initiatives, and training organizations.

The outcome would be continual gospel growth -people who make disciples who in turn make more disciples, who make disciples…