Church growth is important, but only if it’s the right kind—growth by conversion. In other words, not just growth through the transfer of believers from one church to another. Why is this so critical?
The answers are both biblical and practical.
First, take a look at the New Testament’s strategy.
Growth through conversion is the only kind of church growth the New Testament endorses. Consider the Great Commission “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:19–20).
Note the words “make disciples,” not “transfer disciples.” Disciples are made by reaching and teaching—sharing the good news of Christ with unbelievers, seeing them trust Christ, and then teaching them how to grow in their faith.
One cannot save the saved; he can only save the unsaved. The church’s intentional growth must be directed toward those who’ve never met Christ. The local church functions as an “operating base” to take the message of salvation to its surrounding area and then ultimately to the world (Acts 1:8).
Don’t forget to utilize new converts. After all, they are often the ones with the most non-Christian friends. As you disciple them, encourage them to share their faith and help grow the church through conversion.
Second, consider the dynamic results.
As I have traveled the world for more than 40 years, I have observed something interesting. I have never seen a church that is spiritually where it ought to be that does not welcome new believers on a regular basis.
The impact of new Christians cannot be understated.
For one thing, their enthusiasm is contagious and their simplicity refreshing. Talking with them often encourages you anew by what it means to be His child and is a powerful testimony to God’s transforming power.
But that’s not all! It’s all too easy for us to concentrate solely on our own problems. New believers have a way of helping us see beyond ourselves. Some from harrowing backgrounds—dysfunctional families, drug addictions, sexual abuse, and broken relationships—situations that often cause our own problems to look small. Others, may come from positive backgrounds, but still need extra encouragement as they start their new walk with Christ. As a result, long-time believers often step away from the mirror and focus on helping new Christians find their way.
When one understands the biblical and practical reasons for the church to grow by conversion, he is faced with the question, “How can one possibly settle for anything else?”