Church officials of both large and small churches across the globe question their strategies to experience growth in the technology driven 21st century. As many church leaders explore growth opportunities through various ministries and programs, the greatest question remains, “What is growth, and how can it be measured?”.
According to research by Christian experts, three main types of growth exist: biological, transfer, and conversion. Biological growth occurs as children of Christian families grow up in church and eventually seek church membership. Transfer growth takes place as believers draw their membership from one church and affiliate with another. Most Christians believe that conversion growth should be the top priority for the church. Conversion growth stems from believers who share the gospel to un-churched people, bringing them into the body of Christ.
Although some researchers believe the only way to measure true growth is through concrete numbers, many church leaders disagree. Spiritual growth refers to the growth of an individual once they become a believer. However, measuring spiritual growth proves to be a challenge for church officials. In an article by Christianity Today, measuring spiritual growth should not simply reflect an individual’s ability to master objectives, but should emulate doorposts, which represent the hindsight of spiritual development.
Carey Nieuwhof’s 8 Reasons Most Churches Never Break the 200 Attendance Mark, shares statistics from the Barna Group that the average Protestant church size in America is 89 adults. Sixty percent of Protestant Churches have less than 100 adults attending. Only 2% of churches in America have more than 1000 adults in attendance. The question “why do these small churches not see a growth in attendance if the church leaders are focused on prayer and evangelism” continues to haunt church officials everywhere.
While countless churches chase the notion that church growth can be measured through an increase in attendance, offerings, or programs, others believe that church growth is about growing people, not numbers. According to Chaplain Jeremy Myers, church leaders should focus on being people and ministry oriented versus program-oriented. He also explains that the best book to read about church growth remains the Word of God.
Dr. Paul Elliott with Teaching the Word Ministries hosts a series online about the steps taken by the New Testament Church to grow and multiply. According to part four of the series, in the midst of persecution and troubles, the church multiplied because Christians shared the Gospel of Christ. The Word of God grew and multiplied; therefore, causing the church to grow.