In Colossians 2:19 Paul writes of those who are “not holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God.” THIS is what we should seek in our churches: “the growth which is from God.”
Too many churches today are merely seeking “growth”. While there have been some benefits to Christianity from the “church growth movement” there has also come much harm, some of it being that growth itself has come to be seen as the primary goal of the church, almost regardless of the methodology employed to create it. Thus we observe churches today compromising God’s word, and employing every kind of “gimmick” and compromise, all in the name of “church growth.” It has almost become true that “the ends justify the means” in many churches.
But the result of this methodology is destructive, as more and more churches are compromising Biblical principles, and are producing worldly and shallow “disciples”. As Bill Hull asserts in his book, The Disciple-Making Pastor, the question we should really be asking in our churches is not not “how many people are present” but “what are these people LIKE?” What godly product are we producing with our efforts?
In contrast to this worldly, compromising methodology, Paul wrote that we are to seek “the growth which is from God.” That growth is one which is based on Jesus Christ, on abiding in Him and following the principles of His word. It may not bring “instant results” — the disciples waited for days in prayer before Pentecost! As on that famous day, it may bring occasional “flashes” of growth which only God can give. Or it may not bring numerical growth at all, as some who are confronted with the truth about Jesus will always leave, just as they did Jesus Himself in John 6. However it will always lead to the spiritual growth of those who will indeed follow.
Regardless, the prayer and aim of our churches should not be merely “growth” at any cost, but the goal Paul sets before us here: “the growth which is from God.”