Another distinguishing mark of a healthy church is a pervasive concern with church growth–not simply with growing numbers, but with growing members. Some today think that one can be a “baby Christian” for a whole life-time. Growth is seen to be an optional extra for particularly zealous disciples. But growth is a sign of life. Growing trees are living trees, and growing animals are living animals. Growth involves increase and advance. In many areas of our experience, when something stops growing it dies.
Paul hoped the Corinthians would grow in the Christian faith (2 Corinthians 10:15). The Ephesians, he hoped, would “grow up into him who is the Head, that is Christ” (Ephesians 4:15; cr. Colossians 1:10; 2 Thessalonians 1:3). Peter exhorted some early Christians to, “like newborn babes, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation” (1 Peter 2:2). It is tempting for pastors to reduce their churches to manageable statistics of attendance, baptisms, giving and membership, where growth is tangible; however, such statistics fall far short of true growth which Paul describes and God desires.
Link to 9marks.org