Friday, October 17, 2008

Spurgeon On Church Growth

I heard of a report of a church, the other day, in which the minister, who was well known to have reduced his congregation to nothing somewhat cleverly wrote, "Our church is looking up." When questioned with regard to this statement, he replied, Everybody knows that the church is on its back, and it cannot do anything else but look up." When churches are looking up in that way, their pastors generally say that you cannot tabulate the work of the Spirit, and calculate the prosperity of a church by figures. The fact is, you can reckon very correctly if the figures are honest, and if all circumstances are taken into consideration: if there is no increase, you may calculate with considerable accuracy that there is not much being done; and if there is a cleare decrease among a growing population, you may reckon that the prayers of the people and the preaching of the minister are not of the most powerful kind.

That is not a quote from Ed Stetzer's most recent book or Lifeway's most recent study. This is a direct quote from C.H. Spurgeon in his book The Soul Winner. The church growth movement may be somewhat new in the church (if 60 years is still new), but the ideas behind the church growth movement are not new at all.

Spurgeon realized that pastors bear a burden of responsibility in the affectiveness of the church God has given them stewardship over. He also realized that the laity bears a certain responsibility in the overall success of the church. In other words, we are all responsible for the ministry of the church to which we belong, whether pastor or lay member.

But, as a pastor, let me say to pastors, take note. The church on its back may be looking up, but that does not mean it is supposed to be on its back.

Does God ever desire to see his churches die?

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