Growth as a goal was never attributed to strength or victory. Numbers in our favor were never used by God to inspire confidence that we were winning.
1 Chronicles 21 tells the riveting tale of David being deceived by the one who is always trying to get us to take our eyes off of God and onto the strength of our own hand.
“Now Satan stood up against Israel, and moved David to number Israel.”
“And God was displeased with this thing [the numbering of the people]; therefore He struck Israel.”
Side note: This account is one of only three times Satan is mentioned by name in the Old Testament. The other two:
Why would Satan find it important enough to move David to count the people — a seemingly harmless temptation? And why would God find this story significant enough for us that He includes it TWICE in the Scriptures (see 2 Samuel 24 for another version of the same event)? Pay attention when God repeats Himself.
Taking this concept a little further — growth as associated with the focus on increasing numbers in our gatherings even seems to run contrary to many Biblical exhortations.
Instead, the only kind of growth we can find encouraged in the Word is a scattering growth.
It was never, “bring them in.” Instead it was, “go and find them,” and then, “send them out.”
Whenever the crowds became large, Jesus would either run from them, hide from them, or send them away with a confusing or offensive message.
From John 6,
“Unless you eat the body of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you will not have eternal life.
And when many of Jesus’ followers heard these things, it caused a stir. “That’s disgusting!” they said. “How could anyone accept it?
And so from that time on many of the disciples turned their backs on Jesus and refused to be associated with Him.
This passage then leads into the profound confession of faith by Peter, “So Jesus said to his twelve, ‘And you — do you also want to leave?’ Peter spoke up and said, ‘But Lord, where would we go? No one but you gives us the revelation of eternal life. We’re fully convinced that you are the Anointed One, the Son of the Living God, and we believe in you!”
We can’t fully understand the magnitude of faith from Peter’s confession without first seeing the context of the situation. Jesus was sending the half-hearted away.
He was not concerned about making His teachings:
In fact, He did not concern Himself at all with pleasing the people. Even with His closest 12 He poses the question, “And you, what about you? Will you go also?” Essentially, I’m not going to break this down for you or explain myself — you want out or what?
A reproductive growth rather than a consolidating or collecting growth. Scattering over accumulation.
This level of reproductive growth demands two things:
re: non-jealous fathers
“I’m not writing this as a neighborhood scold just to make you feel rotten. I’m writing as a father to you, my children. I love you and want you to grow up well, not spoiled. There are a lot of people around you who can’t wait to tell you what you’ve done wrong, but there aren’t many fathers willing to take the time and effort to help you grow up.” I Cor. 4 MSG
re: humble fathers who can actually bless their sons to leave
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, they shall become one flesh.” Gen. 2:24 NKJV (this admonition repeated in Matthew, Mark and Ephesians)
The humble father understands the order of sending out so that new life can be created. Two separate things joining together to become one new thing. This one new thing able to reproduce something of their own.
Without this sending out, new life cannot be created.
Opposite of this is an insecure, jealous mindset, where we see:
Incorrect teachings on staying tied to your apostolic leader or honoring covenant commitments can easily be identified because they will never bless you to “leave his father and mother” and go and reproduce your own thing. These false teachings favor loyalty and duplication over reproduction. Side note: duplication is not reproduction
Further perpetuating the mass adoption of this toxic growth mindset is a belief that we personally carry:
Why would God have given us such a message and such an anointing if He didn’t want us to share it with as many people as possible?
We assume, arrogantly, that faithful obedience to the Lord looks like maximizing our impact by extending our reach.
Again, not a Biblical model.
Other factors at play with the rise of the growth mindset:
What has created this entire generation (potentially multiple generations) of insecure, non-reproducing leaders?
What has created this epidemic?
I believe it’s a failure to move in a Psalms 17:15 revelation:
As for me, because I am innocent I will see your face until I see you for who you really are.Then I will awaken with your form and be fully satisfied, fulfilled in the revelation of your glory in me! (Passion translation)
A passage reinforced by Jesus when He said in Matthew 5:8,
What bliss you experience when your heart is pure! For then your eyes will be open to see more and more of God.
Thus, the only solution is a family move of God which values generational legacy reproduction and scattering higher than personal destiny.