Show Notes – Episode 31

A Gospel View of Church Growth

Interview with Bryan Samms

There are essentially two styles of evangelical churches (which includes the entire spectrum Bible-believing churches from fundamentalist churches to broader evangelical churches).  

1. Those who measure the success of their church by numerical growth. 

2. Those who focus their church on sound doctrine and Biblical church practices, leaving the “growth” up to God.

This does not mean that there are no “growing churches” that are not doctrinally focused.  It also does not mean all doctrinally focused churches are healthy, life-giving churches. It simply refers to the focus of the church and it’s leadership.

Defining the Church Growth Model of Churches

The church growth movement is a group of pastors, denominational leaders, and para-church ministry leaders who have allowed their ministries to be influenced by certain principles related to the science of church growth. This science seeks to apply observed principles that affect significant growth in local churches and/or groups of churches.  These principles include marketing, social, psychological, and behavioral sciences (sometimes called contextualization).  Coupled with a desire to fulfill the Great Commission, these strategies lead churches to “focus” on reaching the unsaved person.
This model can be found in both more conservative and more liberal churches. These groups exploded around the same time (70’s and 80’s) and continue in modern applications today. The church growth movement has become a goal and the model for American churches to look to. The truth is that the church growth movement has affected us more than we like to think.

The Dangers of the Church Growth Movement.  Why I chose a different path?


God values our faithfulness above all things.

Large churches (over 500) only make up 4.5% of all churches. This is significant because, if we teach a church growth model, many will never see the numbers and be disappointed when they could be being as faithful to God as He desires them to be. 

Numerical growth cited in the Bible is descriptive not prescriptive (Acts 2:41, 2:47, 4:4, 5:14, 6:7). First of all, it was true. The church had enormous growth, but that growth quickly spread out from Jerusalem, and then (Acts 9:31, 12:24, 16:4, 17:12, 19:20, 28:31) it was descriptive of the entire church universal not just one local church. 

Nowhere in the pastoral epistles is the pastor instructed to pursue church growth. The epistles instruct the pastor to be holy in character, sound in doctrine, faithful in preaching, and God-centered in worship gatherings. These are the goals that every pastor should have while he allows Christ to build his church.