GROWTH OF THE LOCAL CHURCH FAMILY: IS MORE THE MERRIER?
YOUR OPTIMUM SIZE
Have you ever wished you were taller, broader or bigger? I have. I am 5-5 and a svelte 125 pounds – almost pure muscle, of course. No kidding. (The amazing martial artist Bruce Lee was 5-7 and 125 at his passing so don’t laugh.) More importantly, God made me that way, and it is something I have had to accept many times over, especially when I realized that if I were just two inches taller, I could have saved literally months over my lifetime spent fetching stools and ladders for chores and projects. But then I come back to the fact that God pre-wired my body genetically to be shorter and leaner.
I believe to some extent, God does that for local churches. He has assigned a best size for each local body, ordaining that some be larger and some be smaller. We also know, of course, that natural context helps determine this. A church in a teeming metropolis like New York will have a better chance of growing larger than say a fellowship in a smaller rural area and I am not discounting this. But I believe there are God factors involved as well.
Leaders can become dissatisfied with the growth of their assembly especially if they think it should be larger – particularly if mega churches abound in their locale. Apart from the usual “size of the city=size of the church” or “skill of the leader=size of the church” perspectives, allow me to suggest that perhaps God has pre-determined a church’s optimum size based less on achievement and more by assignment. Just like I have been “assigned” a frame of 5-5. Though I truly wished at times I were taller and broader, I realize that smaller doesn’t mean lesser. It goes the same for churches. Just because some are smaller doesn’t mean they are lesser. I am not saying don’t grow. But don’t seek growth merely for the sake of size, for that could be unhealthy. Example: Many professional athletes have increased body mass only to sustain injury because their God-given bone structure was too small and crumbled beneath the extra weight.
The tragic account of 7-4 Andre Rene Rousssimoff, a.k.a. Andre “The Giant.” gives us yet another angle. Andre, it is believed, died partly due to acromegaly, a disease that causes the body to produce too much growth hormone. His system simply could not handle it and his heart failed.
THE KEY TO UNLIMITED GROWTH
Yet, God’s passionate desire is for his body, the church, to grow exponentially. In the book of Acts, the early church exploded and changed the world. How? they went from addition to multiplication. Mother churches spawned sons and daughters who went out and started new spiritual families. They kept gathering AND kept scattering. Here’s a picture in the natural: My oldest daughter, Naomi, married a minister on my staff, Billy. They now have two children of their own. Our family has grown, but not in one house or in one place, and one family has turned into two. Yet to come? My two other young adult daughters. And think of the families they will have. The increase could be endless. Now that’s growth, but not one my wife and I could ever contain healthily in one single house.
The church I Pastor is in Pearl City, Hawaii. I confess. While I am a “mini” man, I pastor what pundits call a “mega” church. But we have given away over a million dollars and several hundred people to plant other works, mostly on the same island, and every time, God fills us back up. Prophetic words given us by others predict we will double, but I believe that is because it is related to God’s pre-determined assignment of planting not just extension campuses but local churches.
Want to grow? Cultivate a heart for the lost. Jesus left us with a comission to “GO.” Be willing to let go. Not all growth in one body is healthily sustainable, and God knows what the best growth limit is for your “body.” Indeed, less does not mean lesser. In fact, lesser may mean bigger…and better.