My father pastored five different churches between 1949 and 1994. His first four churches averaged 200 members, and his last church grew from 250 to 750 during his ten years of care.
A few years before dad retired from that last, rapidly growing church, I came home for Christmas. We went out for coffee, and he shared with me some reflections on church growth.
When he pastored his first four churches, he felt the “fruit” of his ministry was show in the parishioners’ growth in prayer, Scripture, fruit of the Spirit, and outreach. But when his last church doubled in size, he began to think of “fruit” in terms of Sunday-morning attendance.
He said he had never thought about numbers until he saw the membership increase. And when he saw numbers increase, he began to think of little else. He concluded,
Who would ever imagine that spiritual fruit could be measured by numbers, the same way GM measures a good year, by the sum of the pickup trucks produced?