Outreach Magazine has released its 2015 list of the 100 Fastest Growing Churches in America.
The research, which was done by LifeWay, examines the increase in average attendance (adults and children) over the last twelve months. That's interesting, but from a movements perspective we'd like to know a few more details like:
- What percentage of the growth represents newly baptized disciples?
- Has any of the "fastest growing" churches planted new churches? Then let's count that as growth.
- Do any of the churches have second, third or fourth generation new churches made up of new disciples? Why not count them?
There's nothing wrong with counting. The book of Acts counts. When Luke counts he is making a point about the unstoppable spread of the dynamic Word of God — the message of the gospel.
In Acts the Word spreads, grows and multiplies. And wherever the Word goes the fruit of its growth is new disciples and new churches.
In 33AD the church in Jerusalem topped the list of 100 fastest growing churches. Jerusalem stayed at the top for some years. But Jerusalem's greatest contribution became the missionaries — apostles and ordinary believers — who were thrust out by the Spirit to spread the gospel, make disciples and plant multiplying churches. Everywhere.
That's what should get our attention.