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Cover 25


CURRENT ISSUE: april-may 2009


EveryOne:Reaching Farther Together







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Waste of Time

is church growth a
waste of time?

by G.K. Rutledge


Learn more about the National Association of Free Will Baptists at



I sometimes wonder if church growth is a waste of time!

That’s right. You heard me, and I meant it.

Deep down you’re glad someone finally said what you have been thinking and feeling.

Sometimes it feels like church growth is a waste of time and money!

I wish I had all the money back I have spent on church growth books and church growth conferences. I don’t care if it’s purpose-driven, seeker-sensitive, or program-related, that money would have been better spent feeding the poor, helping the homeless, or for that matter, wadded up and thrown in the fireplace.

I wish I could take back all the sleepless nights wondering why my church isn’t growing like the one down the street. Church growth seems to be a waste of time, money, and worry.


Waste of Time?



Here is why. The church—as the body of Christ—is an organism, not an organization, and you can’t grow an organism.

Think about it. Baseball players who inject themselves with unnatural growth hormones get banned from baseball. You don’t put a juiced up athlete on a pedestal and tell all the other athletes to model themselves after him.

Why we hold juiced up churches in high esteem I will never understand.

Don’t get me wrong. Growing the church is important, but chasing the latest fad in church growth is a waste of time. Marketing and programming can grow the organization of the church (the business side), but you can’t really grow the organism (the body side) of the church. Only God can create a living organism. Sure, we can clone, but we can’t create.

Want your church to grow? Turn your attention to building an environment where growth is possible. Make sure the soil is rich, and the weeds are few. Water it. Feed it. You can prepare the church for growth, but you can’t program the church for growth. Only God can create and make living things grow.

The next time you receive a brochure advertising the next “sure-fire way to grow a church” brochure in the mail, spend your money on something more useful…like an Oreo Blizzard at the local Dairy Queen. Hey, for the cost of the conference, maybe you can take your whole family to Dairy Queen. And the next Sunday, instead of counting attendance, evaluate your environment. Is it conducive for growth? If it is, don’t worry about the numbers. Work the ground and trust the One who created the Organism called Church.


About the Writer: G.K. Rutledge is a freelance writer who lives in Nashville, TN.





©2009 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists