Shaun Groves has a great post up today called Does Size Matter?
You should read the whole thing, but here's a taste:
"If you’re doing everything right,” he said, “you’ll grow.” These are the words of a church leader I once had lunch with. I was co-teaching a weekly bible study in the Nashville area at the time. And this guy thought we were doing something wrong since our little bible study was growing slowly.
Sure, we were a college-aged bible study meeting thirty minutes away from the nearest college. And, yes, people in our little group mentored high school students, fed the homeless, loved their enemies, worked with the poor overseas in the Summer and out gave (percentage wise) the larger church congregation we were a segment of some weeks, but, we weren’t growing fast enough and that, I learned over a plate of barbecue, is how church leaders know if they’re doing everything right - it’s what matters.
At the time of Pentecost in the book of Acts, with Jesus having just left the planet, there were less than 200 people still following Him. Thousands were healed, fed, preached to. Five hundred witnessed Jesus’ ascent into heaven after raising Himself from the dead. But less than 200 remained. Was Jesus doing something wrong? I wondered.
But Peter, this church leader pointed out, swore thousands into the Christian church in a week! Peter spoke and multitudes swarmed and stuck. This is the case throughout the book of Acts really: Paul, Peter, James, John and company traveling and speaking and serving people and seeing the churches across Asia and Rome flourish. Therefore, my lunch buddy deduced, if we’re doing everything right in our churches then our churches will be big and growing bigger quickly.
Of course Jesus and Peter were both doing things “right,” I think we can assume. Yet their congregations had very different growth patterns. And if that’s true then numeric growth is not the most important or accurate indicator that we’re doing things right (what God wants).
He goes on to talk about what is the best indicator.