Dimensions of Church Growth

milleyToday’s post comes to us from Dr. Garry E. Milley, columnist for Christian Week and author of An Inconvenient Cross: Proclaiming Christ Crucified. Garry is also the Lead Pastor of Church in Oaks in London, Ontario.

I wanted to call this article “On Introducing Change” but decided against it because, as Mark Twain is supposed to have said, “The only person who likes change is a wet baby.” But change is another word for growth and everyone is in favour of growth.

Luke 2:52 reads: “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and people.” Luke’s outline may be used to describe four dimensions of Church growth. Christians need to develop strategies for intellectual, numerical, spiritual, and relational growth.

Intellectual growth

Here lies the primary responsibility of pastors as teachers and under-shepherds of God’s flock. Their duties are to feed the flock so it may grow. Additional volunteer ministries such as Life Groups leaders, Sunday school workers, and teaching elders contribute to this ministry.

Participation in study retreats, conferences, Bible studies, and small groups increase the probability of the church growing in the knowledge of the Lord. Of course, we must not turn out intelligent church members who do not know right from wrong.

Theology must be balanced by ethics. What we know must be integrated into life. Yet, if wisdom is the application of knowledge, then intellectual growth is needed in the church.

Numerical growth

Numerical growth is desirable and mandatory if we are going to connect people with God, each other, our city, and our world. There is something unconvincing when someone insists, “Oh yes, we’re small, but we’re good.” We all wish to ask, “If you’re so good, how come you’re so small?”

Numbers are not always the measure of success. Yet, just as Jesus grew in stature, the body of Christ needs to grow numerically. The church is not a museum for keeping a few pure saints under glass for all to see. It is an ark in which both clean and unclean animals are being saved.

Keeping the church small in the name of purity may reflect an absence of a revival theology, a lack of boldness in witness, and an excuse for disregarding the great commission.

Click here to read about the other two dimensions.

Your partner in ministry,


P.S. – And one of the critical ways to achieve maximum growth is through healthy systems!

Like the human body, your church body functions best (and as intended) with optimized and healthy systems. By identifying and upgrading your church’s systems you’ll be able to reach more people and make stronger disciples.


I want to do everything I can to help you make this fall your biggest season in ministry yet! So I’m inviting you to join me THIS WEEK on a completely REVISED and UPDATED free online training event to help you implement the 8 systems of a healthy church.

Click here to reserve your spot!

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About Nelson Searcy

Nelson Searcy is an experienced church growth strategist, pastor, church planter and coach, consulting with churches around the world. As founder of Church Leader Insights and the Renegade Pastors Network, he has personally trained more than 3,500 church leaders in over 45 denominations through live events, seminars and monthly coaching. Nelson is also the Founding and Lead Pastor of The Journey Church, with locations across New York City and in Boca Raton, FL. Nelson and his church routinely appear on lists such as “The 50 Most Influential Churches” and “The 25 Most Innovative Leaders.” He is the author of over 100 church growth resources and 18+ books, including The Renegade Pastor: Abandoning Average in Your Life, Ministry and The Difference Maker: Using Your Everyday Life for Eternal Impact, and At the Cross with the People Who Were There. He and his wife, Kelley, have one son, Alexander.

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