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church growth vs church health

December 7, 2009

Confession: it’s easy for me to fall into the trap of defining our success or failure as a church numerically.  When attendance is high, I’m high.  When it’s low, I can be low.

After being here for a few months and seeing the incredible people that make up The Bridge church, I knew The Bridge was going to grow. Then one day I was reading Luke where Jesus compares his kingdom to a tree, I started praying for The Bridge, and spontaneously picked up the closest piece of paper and drew this picture…

The tree on the left is big with shallow roots. The tree on the right is small with deep roots.  A few few observations:

  • the tree on the left is easily uprooted
  • the tree on the right can withstand seasons of trial
  • the tree on the left looks stronger
  • the tree on the right is stronger
  • the tree on the left won’t produce much fruit because it doesn’t have the root system for adequate nourishment
  • the tree on the right will produce much fruit for its size
  • lots of people will be impressed with the church on the left
  • anyone who knows trees will be more impressed with the church on the right

I’d rather be the one on the right.  It’s healthy.

After The Bridge being in a season of very rapid growth, the thing that God has been bringing to my mind the last few days is that our goal isn’t merely church growth – it’s church health.  According to the New Testament healthy churches grow, but not all growing churches are healthy.

I’m spending a lot of time thinking about this right now and could use your help.  What Biblical values or Scripture passages come to your mind that tell us what a healthy church is?

6 Comments leave one →
  1. December 8, 2009 9:45 am

    This is why healthy small groups are so important. Every healthy small group is the tree on the right, small but with roots so deep her members are “like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.” Psalm 1:3

    Big church is not bad in and of itself. Big church without healthy small groups will be made up of people with shallow roots and in turn the church is unstable and easily blown down by any substantial winds that come her way.

    Thanks Josh for watering us well with the Word of God and driving us into small groups. Our roots are growing deeper every week.

  2. Julie permalink
    December 8, 2009 11:13 am

    I would definitely say one KEY aspect of a healthy church is a church that looks outside of herself to focus on the lost. I do believe we do that but of course there is always room for improvement.

  3. Ben Lawson permalink
    December 8, 2009 11:27 am

    So i guess someone didn’t make it past 3rd grade art….

  4. josh permalink
    December 8, 2009 11:36 am

    @Ben – Dude, it’s abstract. You’re just too “low brow” to see it ; )

  5. December 8, 2009 11:50 am

    Hey Josh, Revelation chapters 2 & 3 are particularly enlightening as far as looking at what a healthy church looks like.

  6. Andrea permalink
    December 8, 2009 11:57 am

    I was thinking to myself, Dude. What is Josh doing being a pastor? He totally needs to get into the ART scene! There is so much talent there! Josh, never hesitate to post your drawings on here. They add that extra punch of fun to blog reading!

    In all seriousness, man, thankfully and totally agree with you on this. Digging deep, seeking health and not numbers. It’s awesome to add more numbers to the family, but it’s even more awesome when they are ALL grace driven and relationally, theologically, and missionally healthy, driving those roots deep. Let’s do it!

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