Ten myths about church growth

Have you noticed how quickly “the latest ideas” become the old-fashioned ideas?  Brian Orme is a Southern Baptist expert in church trends.  What were once the foundational assumptions of the Church Growth Movement he is now labeling as “Ten Old Wives Tales about Church Growth.”  Paul McCain usefully extracts them:

1. If You’re Not Growing, Something’s Wrong

2. The More You Grow, the Healthier You Are

3. Contemporary Music Will Save Your Church

4. Church Growth Can Be Manufactured

5. If Your Church Grows, Your Leader Is “Anointed”

6. If Your Church Doesn’t Grow, It’s a Problem with the Leader

7. Good Preaching Is the Answer to Growing Your Church

8. You Will Retain a Large Percentage of Your Visitors on Special Days

9. The More Programs You Offer, the More Your Church Will Grow

10. If You Build It, They Will Come

For Rev. Orme’s explanations of each of these points, go here.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • nativetxn

    A very sensible article-thanks!

  • nativetxn

    A very sensible article-thanks!

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com John

    It was a complex collection of orthodoxy and orthopraxy that turned me to Lutheranism, but I can tell you one thing – if our local Word and Sacrament congregation were modeled after the CGM, we never would have gone.

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com John

    It was a complex collection of orthodoxy and orthopraxy that turned me to Lutheranism, but I can tell you one thing – if our local Word and Sacrament congregation were modeled after the CGM, we never would have gone.

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    Sadly, #4 and #9 and maybe #10 are actually true.

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    Sadly, #4 and #9 and maybe #10 are actually true.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    Mike; you’d no doubt agree, though, that such church “growth” as 4, 9 and 10 describe is that of Joel Osteen; a mile wide, an inch deep, and of dubious effectiveness as the flock migrates to their Maker. No?

    Probably the biggest problem with CGM in general is that it ignores the Holy Spirit’s part in all this, and the fact that real, organic church growth consists of the spiritual growth of the members.

    For that matter, a lot of denominations NOT afflicted by CGM ought to learn this, too.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    Mike; you’d no doubt agree, though, that such church “growth” as 4, 9 and 10 describe is that of Joel Osteen; a mile wide, an inch deep, and of dubious effectiveness as the flock migrates to their Maker. No?

    Probably the biggest problem with CGM in general is that it ignores the Holy Spirit’s part in all this, and the fact that real, organic church growth consists of the spiritual growth of the members.

    For that matter, a lot of denominations NOT afflicted by CGM ought to learn this, too.

  • Stone the Crows

    Orme starts with this statement, “If growth and a bigger crowd is “always” the result of obedience then some of the OT prophets will have some serious explaining to do.” Too true, Elijah really needed to get with the program. And if ‘obedience gets results,’ Jonah also has some explaining to do.

  • Stone the Crows

    Orme starts with this statement, “If growth and a bigger crowd is “always” the result of obedience then some of the OT prophets will have some serious explaining to do.” Too true, Elijah really needed to get with the program. And if ‘obedience gets results,’ Jonah also has some explaining to do.

  • Pingback: Ten Myths of Church Growth. « A Twisted Crown of Thorns ®()

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  • Michael B.

    I agree with Mike Westfall in that some of these are true. In particular, this is true:
    Church Growth Can Be Manufactured.

    I’m not saying I could ever do it, or that the people who do it are even aware of how they do it, but there are formulas to growing a church (or any organization for that matter.)

  • Michael B.

    I agree with Mike Westfall in that some of these are true. In particular, this is true:
    Church Growth Can Be Manufactured.

    I’m not saying I could ever do it, or that the people who do it are even aware of how they do it, but there are formulas to growing a church (or any organization for that matter.)

  • http://www.smallchurchtools.com Terry Reed

    As a former teacher of Church Growth on the college level I found the article interesting. I don’t recall ever teaching any one of the ten myths on the list. I do recall many critics claiming that these things were the teachings of church growth but they were not in my curriculum nor in any of my colleague’s.
    Terry Reed
    Small Church Tools

  • http://www.smallchurchtools.com Terry Reed

    As a former teacher of Church Growth on the college level I found the article interesting. I don’t recall ever teaching any one of the ten myths on the list. I do recall many critics claiming that these things were the teachings of church growth but they were not in my curriculum nor in any of my colleague’s.
    Terry Reed
    Small Church Tools

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    Tell us, Terry, what was it that you did teach concerning church growth? What techniques were in your curriculum?

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    Tell us, Terry, what was it that you did teach concerning church growth? What techniques were in your curriculum?

  • http://www.smallchurchtools.com Terry Reed

    Mostly the observations of McGavran. Ideas such as evaluating what your church is doing, the fact that people like to come to Jesus without crossing cultural barriers (speak to people in their own language), that people tend to have fewer and fewer contacts with the lost world the longer they live for Jesus, etc. I am aware that some writers took these and other ideas and went too far…however it is my opinion that those who disagree with them are the main folks saying that CG teaches things like “If you build it, they will come” etc.
    Terry Reed
    Small Church Tools

  • http://www.smallchurchtools.com Terry Reed

    Mostly the observations of McGavran. Ideas such as evaluating what your church is doing, the fact that people like to come to Jesus without crossing cultural barriers (speak to people in their own language), that people tend to have fewer and fewer contacts with the lost world the longer they live for Jesus, etc. I am aware that some writers took these and other ideas and went too far…however it is my opinion that those who disagree with them are the main folks saying that CG teaches things like “If you build it, they will come” etc.
    Terry Reed
    Small Church Tools


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