I commented on this thread at Episcopal Cafe earlier today on the subject of church growth. Frankly, the subject is starting to wear quite thin on me, because it so often turns to matters of institutional preservation, which is not only deadly dull, but I am increasingly convinced deadly spiritually.
No one wants to join a community wringing its hands and navel gazing over its own demise.
Nor does anyone want to simply become a number to prop up a flagging institution.
The real questions we need to be asking are those like these:
Are we endeavoring to be faithful to the Gospel and to our God?
Does our institution serve our mission of Christ Jesus to transform hearts and reflect God's work in the world? Or do we distort our mission to serve the institution? This is a simple (but not easy) matter of correctly ordering the carts and horses.
Are people finding spiritual nourishment, hope, and empowerment for ministry and service in their communities both within and beyond the walls of the Church?
If these criteria are being addressed with intention in people's real lives and grounded experience, growth of all kinds may very well follow. If they aren't, institutional death is a natural outcome.