Talk to any pastor or full-time church worker and they will immediately discuss with either pride or shame how well their church is "growing." But what does that really mean?
Francis Chan points out that any group of talented people can grow a church. Give people the religious flavor they love and they will come. But it takes the power of the Holy Spirit to build a church. Jesus said, "On this rock I will build my church. " He didn't say he would "grow" it. He was talking about something else.
You can grow a church on the picked-over message of Positivity (God loves you, thinks you're awesome, wants to help you with your stuff, and give you the dreams of your heart.) You don't need the Holy Spirit for that because it appeals to our self-centered flesh. People come because they feel better when they leave. They get charged up on some awesome music, toss a tip in the offering bucket, get fed on a fattening diet of encouragement and religious hype about a cool Jesus who wants to use His powers to help their business succeed and their self-image inflate. They feel terrific when they leave for the game that afternoon and the casino that night.
Is that the kind of growth Jesus was talking about? The Holy Spirit builds His church on the foundation Jesus taught: total surrender, sacrifice, Lordship, and dying to self. A church is built in the hearts of each member and is based on the greatest commandment: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength."
Growth churches have subtly replaced that message with: Love Myself with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength and find out how to use God to do it. We have a world full of growth churches, but very few built ones. Which one is yours?