There are other techniques being promoted today as essential for church growth besides the seeker-sensitive church model. Many of these other techniques are unbiblical and fall under the category of “spiritual warfare.” They are advertised using such names as “pulling down strongholds,” “warfare prayer,” and “spiritual mapping.”
We’ll consider some of these practices in a later chapter about spiritual warfare. In short, however, we might wonder why such practices that were completely unknown to the apostles would be considered necessary for church growth today.
Many of the new means of church growth are the result of the experiences of a few pastors who say, “I did this and that, and my church grew. So if you do the same things, your church will also grow.” The truth is, however, that there was no real connection between the growth of their churches and the peculiar things they did, even though they thought otherwise. This is proven repeatedly when other pastors follow those peculiar teachings and do the identical things, and their churches don’t grow at all.
A church-growth pastor might be heard to say, “When we started screaming at the demons over our city, revival broke out in our church. So you need to start screaming at demons if you want revival to come to your church.”
But why have there been so many wonderful revivals around the world in the past 2,000 years of church history where there was no one screaming at demons over cities? This shows that, even though that pastor thought the revival was a result of screaming at demons, he was mistaken. More likely, people within his city started becoming receptive to the gospel, perhaps as a result of the united prayers of the church, and that pastor happened to be there preaching the gospel when they became receptive. Most often, church growth is the result of being at the right place at the right time. (And the Holy Spirit helps us be at the right places at the right times.)
If screaming at demons over cities brought revival to a certain pastor’s church, why, after a length of time, did the revival slow and then cease, as it always does? If screaming at demons is the key, then it stands to reason that if we just keep screaming at the demons, everyone in the city will come to Christ. But they don’t.
The truth is obvious when we simply give it a little thought. The only biblical means of church growth are prayer, preaching, teaching, disciple-making, the help of the Holy Spirit, and so on. And even those biblical means don’t guarantee church growth, because God has made people free moral agents. They can choose to repent or not repent. It could be said that even Jesus failed at the cause of church growth at certain times when cities He visited did not repent.
All of this is to say that we only need to practice biblical means for building the church. Anything else is a waste of time. They are works that consist of wood, hay, and straw that will one day be burned in the fire and go unrewarded (see 1 Cor. 3:12-15).
Finally, the goal should not be just growth in numbers, but disciple making. If the church grows as we make disciples, then praise God!