You may not be a fan of the Church Growth Movement, but the early proponents of these ideas rightly challenged church leaders to consider numbers as one means to evaluate the health of the church. Using some of their terms, and adding some of my own, I offer you this means to evaluate the sources of any growth your church might be experiencing:
- Conversion growth. Obviously, this kind of growth occurs when a non-believer becomes a follower of Christ and joins the church through that church’s appropriate means. Few churches in North America are growing primarily from this source.
- What percentage of your church’s growth is conversion growth? __________
- Transfer growth. This growth takes place when a church member transfers his membership from one congregation to another. In some cases (e.g., leaving a church where the gospel is not preached, joining a church after moving to a new residence, etc.), transfer growth is legitimate. In other cases, it’s simply “swapping sheep.”
- What percentage of your church’s growth is from believers moving to your church for legitimate reasons? __________
- What percentage of your growth comes from believers who transfer their membership from another local church in the same area – which often suggests sheep swapping? _________
- Biological growth. Here, I differ from other writers who define "biological growth" as the children of church members becoming believers. For me, that’s conversion growth. I thus define biological growth as “members having babies, whose nursery attendance contributes to overall numerical growth.” Needless to say, younger congregations are more likely to experience this kind of growth.
- What percentage of your church’s growth comes from members having, or adopting, babies? __________
- Attender growth. This growth consists of regular attenders who seldom miss a Sunday, but who also never officially join the church. Instead, they just keep “dating” the church without a firm commitment to that local body.
- What percentage of your church’s growth is attender growth? __________
What is your assessment of your church? What do you learn from this exercise?