A Second Limiting Factor to Church Growth

Second, church growth is limited by the degree of saturation among receptive people by all the churches in a given region. At any certain time, there are only so many people in an area whose hearts are open to the gospel. Once those receptive ones are all reached, no church will grow, unless some already-churched people transfer to another church (which is how many large churches have grown—at the expense of other churches within their regions).

Of course, every current Christian was unreceptive to the gospel at one time but became receptive under the influence of the Holy Spirit. Thus, it is very possible that people who are currently unreceptive will become receptive. When they do, churches can grow. What we often refer to as “revival” occurs when many unreceptive people suddenly become receptive. We should not forget, however, that one person becoming receptive is also a revival, only on a smaller scale. Every big revival begins with just one person becoming receptive. So pastor, do not despise the day of small beginnings.

Jesus sent His disciples out to preach the gospel to cities that He knew would be unreceptive, where not one single person would repent (see Luke 9:5). Yet Jesus still sent them to preach the gospel there. Were those disciples unsuccessful? No, even though they had no converts (and no church growth) they were successful, because they obeyed Jesus.

Likewise, Jesus still sends pastors to villages, cities and suburbs where He knows that only a small percentage of the people will ever be receptive to the gospel. Those pastors who faithfully serve their small congregations are successful in God’s eyes, even though they may be failures in the eyes of some church-growth experts.

All pastors in every area should also be encouraged by the fact that, because of God’s great mercy, and in answer to His peoples’ intercession, He is working to help unreceptive people become receptive. He attempts to influence unsaved people by means of their consciences, His creation, circumstances, His temporal judgments, the living testimony of His church, the preaching of the gospel, and the conviction of the Holy Spirit. So pastor, take heart. Keep obeying, praying and preaching. Before every large-scale revival there first exists the great need for a revival. And there always exists someone who is dreaming of a revival. Keep dreaming!