I’ve received comments from a couple of people for whom I have a great respect, reminding me that a church can appear to grow numerically without ever growing spiritually, and this is true! Please, let’s understand that for the purpose of these posts on church growth, I am using the term “church growth” to mean BOTH spiritual and numerical growth TOGETHER, not separately.
To address the issue of simple increases in attendance without spiritual growth, yes this can be done in much the same way a sports team might increase attendance; by providing a more entertaining product. This is NOT what I am talking about! A huge church that is a mile wide and an inch deep is NOT growing for the purposes of this discussion, because it lacks the attribute that must be present for their numerical results to qualify, at least in my mind, as building the Body of Christ. That attribute (result, really) is lives that are changed for Jesus Christ.
In the same way, a church that claims that its people are growing spiritually, but where numbers never increase is also not growing for the purposes of this discussion, because they bear no fruit, and we know that branches that do not bear fruit are cut off from the vine. In short, they might just be mistaken about the growth of their people.