There’s a tremendous allure in numerical growth. Numbers look cool. We look cool when the roster says, “600″ or “6,000″. We must be doing something right, right? But I would ask the question, “Are we creating baby factories?” Does our numerical growth come at the expense of the real responsibility of parenting that leads to maturity? Getting people in the door is the easy part. Leading them through the spiritual formation to maturity is the hard part. Are we parenting them in a way that leads to perpetual immaturity?
And I get the allure of new converts. Having a baby is a really cool experience. The day my daughter was born radically changed my life. It’s new and wonderful and awe inspiring to see new person just arrive. But that moment in the hospital is the beginning, not the end. Birth is the beginning of a long journey that ends when my children can reproduce maturity, not a baby. Making babies can take six minutes. Making healthy adults takes a lifetime . . .
And my wonder over the last ten years is have we abandoned the parenting process in our practice of spiritual formation. Have we forgotten the need to create elders and instead chosen to have lots of babies, only to create a world that is deeply immature and incapable of mature reproduction.
Jesus spent three years with twelve people, an astounding thought in today’s church models. He was not interested in the crowds who were interesting in cheap thrills. He refused to play their games and was deeply interested in spiritual maturity, not numerical growth. He got parenting because he himself was deeply connected to His Father and had reached spiritual maturity.
What I would also offer is that by abandoning the spiritual formation process, we abandon our own growth.
Go read the whole thing.
In the comments, Jonathan adds, "Jesus wouldn’t have been a very good church planter because he spent way too much time with a small group of 12 men."
But of course that made him an incredible church planter.
(HT: Bill Kinnon via email)