Measuring Growth

Measuring Growth

Attendance. Baptisms. Contributions. The “ABC method” of measuring congregational growth. Man’s methodology to be sure – but not necessarily God’s.

Now we all know that divisiveness, division and denominationalism are all dead wrong; they all run completely contrary to the Savior’s prayer for unity (Jn. 17:20-23), and are therefore thoroughly condemned throughout the entirety of the Scriptures (Prov. 6:12-19; 1 Cor. 1:10-13, 3:1-4; Phil. 1:27-2:4; and etc)… for the most part that is…

You see, as the females in my family are often so prone to remind me when it comes to their hair, “In order for it to grow out and be more healthy, you have to cut it back” – or, “trim off the split ends” as it were. The same thing is true in gardening, as sometimes certain plants have to be pruned in order to be more productive. It was to this truth that Jesus alluded, and then went on to apply to the spiritual world as well (Jn. 15:2).

Sometimes in order for a congregation to truly grow spiritually, and to grow more healthy – and healthfully – in the eyes of God, it must first be pruned and/or cut back. Division must, in some cases occur first – as mandated by Scripture! “For there must also be factions {divisions} among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you” (1 Cor. 11:19). In other words, the aforementioned “ABC method” of measuring congregational growth must be set aside in certain cases wherein sin is seeking entrance into the camp. When attendance, baptisms, and contributions are the one and only exclusive standard by which congregational growth is measured, then we are headed for certain disaster (Matt. 7:13-14; 1 Ptr. 3:18-21).

Keeping up the count at all cost, will eventually cost us everything. Some of the key considerations concerning God’s kingdom congregations, are the “righteousness and peace and joy” they are to enjoy, as well as the edification and encouragement that identifies them (See Rom. 14:16-19).

Attendance at the expense of righteousness is not only not healthy growth, but actually instead, quite deadly in both its influence and its outcome. There are times when we must divide from those who would bring certain, sinful, seductive and satanic elements into our congregations. And we must do so quickly; long before and lest their evil and ungodly influence has a chance to spread like leaven in a loaf, or gangrene in an otherwise thriving body. For if we do not, then the evil we’ve allowed to gain a foothold will eventually extend to epidemic proportions, infecting and infesting the entire congregation. And so, we must divide from those people who would spread these spores of sin and unrighteousness – no matter how much money they might place in the plate; how many people they may help put in the pews; or how much power and influence they might wield in the community. And the fact of the matter is, that God demands we do no less!

God’s list of those we must divide from, would include: those who would try to teach us to do things today that are contrary to, that deviate from, and/or that are not contained in, the doctrine of Jesus through His hand-picked apostles, as taught to the Lord’s churches (congregations) in the first century (See: Jn. 16:12-15; Acts 2:42; Rom. 16:16-18; 1 Cor. 14:33-37; Gal. 1:6-10; 2 Thess. 2:15; 2 Ptr. 2:1-3 and 3:1-3); those who are divisive, malicious, and factious (Titus 2:9-11); as well as those who are sexually immoral or deviant according to God’s definition (1 Cor. 5:1-6:11; Eph. 5:3-11; 1 Thess. 4:1-8; Rev. 21:8).

These are a few of the most prominent, promiscuous practices that simply cannot be allowed or tolerated in our congregations today, if they are to be considered as righteous and growing healthily for the Lord – even if it means our “attendance, baptisms, and collections” measurement must meander backward for a while in order to divide from such folks. Only such faithful and purposeful congregational and spiritual pruning will eventually bear much righteous growth and fruit for the Master. Let us never sacrifice holiness and righteousness as the people of God, for such man-made markers of success as such sins may masquerade as providing!

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