It’s Called Church Planting, not Church Growing

Yesterday I went fishing. Fly fishing. It was one of those days where the old saying applies:

This is why they call it ‘fishing’ and not ‘catching’. 

It was loads of fun. And with a paid guide to dismantle the birds nests I made out of my line on numerous occasions, it was relatively frustration-free.


But, pray though I did, I only caught two fish in 8 hours. And they were small.

There’s a good lesson here for church planting. Most everyone by now is for good reason queasy at the mention of the “church growth movement” of the 80s and 90s. But we need to keep the relatively recent church planting movement from devolving into something similar and equally dubious.

One way to keep things on track, as I’ve often noted, is to focus on nomenclature. Language creates culture, so we must watch our mouths. We need to remember that it’s called church planting, and not church growing.

This isn’t to minimize the importance of fruitfulness. What other point is there in planting the gospel if you’re not hoping and working toward fruit? But there is a big difference between planting, watering, adding manure, and “growing a church”. Only God gives growth.

As Steve Childers once said, we need to learn the difference between our goals and our desires. What’s the difference? We must work toward our goals, while we must pray for our desires.

Make it your goal to plant the gospel. Make it your goal to water, weed, and fertilize. Set your schedule with these concrete goals and the specific steps you must take to achieve these goals always in mind.

But make it your desire to see the plant grow. And then pray for that desire.

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One thought on “It’s Called Church Planting, not Church Growing

  1. Good stuff Andy…so applicable for every Christian…when we finally come to understand this we can do our part of the equation and have peace and joy in serving and spreading the Good News, even if we never see the plant grow.

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