Numbers Driven Church Growth: The Natural & Unavoidable Consequence of the Seeker Friendly Movement

Don’t you just love those “Suggested Posts” from Facebook? Maybe, maybe not! One I often wonder what the algorithm looks like that they use when a “Christian” is identified and they want to send us more stuff to read. It seems that more times than not, the results look like the programing schedules for TBN and God TV – mostly ‘spiritual’ junk food, or downright poison.

I received another one recently that said I could receive free training that could make me an expert at reaching my community and growing my church. One endorser was quoted as having doubled the numbers of people in his church and that the methods advertised were great!

Literally everything offered was geared to numbers. Like the question “Are you tired of folks walking in the front door and leaving out the back?” The bottom line for church growth is ALL about the numbers. There are some free videos and I watched the first one, which was a little over 5 minutes long and about creating your church Home Page on the Internet – making it appealing to those you want to get in the door. The second one promises to be about energizing your community to get more people through the front door, but I couldn’t figure out how to get/find it. (The first video link arrived in my email inbox.) In short, it’s about appealing to the ‘unchurched’ and maybe those unhappy with their present church to join yours.

It’s ALL about the numbers, and not uncommon in today’s evangelical environment. Much of this trend can be laid at the feet of the ‘seeker friendly’ movement that assumes that everyone is a spiritual seeker at heart and if you give them (the unchurched) what they want to see/experience in ‘church’ they will visit yours, and often hang around (at least until someone else’s church offers more (or better) of what they want than yours does).

And therein lies the rub. In order to get happy pagans into your church, you have to entice them with stuff that happy pagans like and want, and happy pagans don’t ‘want’ God. They are fleshly minded by nature and unable to please God (Rom 8-7-8). Granted, you probably will attract some who are not involved in a church and who are actually seeking and want God, but that would be because God had opened their hearts to hear the gospel (the Lydia principal in Acts 16) or they are already genuine believers.

Add to that the ‘cost’ of pleasing happy pagans and you end up with no choice but to focus on sheer numbers (giving/tithing posteriors in the theater seats) in order to be able to afford (or not get into too much debt over) the rock concert quality praise band (some churches actually hire musicians), light shows, smoke, stage ‘sets’, presentation media (PPT and video clips) etc., etc., etc.. Get the point? Do you see why the numbers are essential?

And not only do you need to get them through the front door, you gotta keep ‘em! There’s more training available for that. Did I mention that everything isn’t really ‘free’?. It never is. ‘Free’ stuff is always offered with these church growth gurus, but usually you are also offered some kind of package to learn more, and get even better at growing ‘your’ church. In this case there was a bargain deal on a DVD set that is marked down significantly from a 3-digit (before the decimal point) price to a 2-digit cost. More than likely the DVD set was NEVER worth a 3-digit price, but they always make it look like they are sacrificing ‘profit’ because they care ‘sooooo much’ for the Kingdom!

I’ve seen a lot of other ads like the one described in this post and they all make me mad and sad at the same time.  Enough said.

Of course, there are other natural and unavoidable consequences of adopting a ‘seeker driven’ church model. Having to play the numbers game is just one of them.

On the other hand………if you leave church growth to the one who says that HE will build HIS church (Remember the focus on ’your’ church in the Facebook ad?), you just might end up with a smaller church filled with genuine believers in the Christ who bore the wrath of God on their behalf (the ‘sheep’), instead of an auditorium full of deceived ‘goats’.

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