You’ll soon find that a healthy church will grow. But growth must always be defined in terms of the maturing image of Christ in individual members as well as in the church body as a whole. You will also find that the growth of a healthy church will be natural, rather than artificially contrived. It will happen as the Holy Spirit works sovereignly – “as God causes it to grow (Colossians 2:9)” – Donald J. MacNair
Church growth is one of those topics that transcends denominational lines. It also tends to be a very passionate topic, much like worship. Every church I know has considered how they can increase in numbers. Small churches desire to grow and large churches desire further growth. But it appears that one of the aspects of church growth that is often neglected is gospel maturity within the existing body.
When people think of how to engage in church growth, most seem to think in terms of external opportunities to increase visibility such as community presence, advertising, and program development. While there may be a time and place for all these things, we must also think how to engage church members to grow in grace. Indeed, gospel maturity is the Lord’s work but making disciples is far more intensive. I am afraid that our tendency is to think of making disciples as leading one toward a profession of faith, and once that profession is made we move on to someone else.
MacNair is bringing up a valid point. How are individual members and the body as a whole being brought along gospel maturity? What are the attributes of gospel maturity? What methods are used to bring people along this road? These are some of the questions that pastors must ask. Of course, this should not be the sole responsibility of the pastor. I believe both elders and deacons should join the pastor in this prayerful discussion.