Steady-State Thinking vs. Church Growth

It’s a weird week when Douglas Rushkoff releases his new book raising the alarm about our culture’s constant growth mentality and two prominent church figures spit on small churches. I’m part of a small subset of nerdilicious nerds who will take note of both those things.

First Bill Easum said that pastors of churches that aren’t growing are wasting their lives.

And then Andy Stanley told his church that people who prefer small churches are selfish (his measurement for a big enough church is odd: enough junior high and high school students to have separate youth groups).

Throwing Rocks at The Google Bus is not about small vs. big. It’s about big enough. It wants to insist that there is such a thing, despite the Just-Keep-Growing code that runs the digital economy and that, to my view, pervades thinking about church as well. It’s an important argument.

Rushkoff advocates “Steady-State” thinking about companies. I’m applying it to churches. “Instead of thinking of a company as an entity that must continue to show growth,” he writes, “Think of it as an entity that must continue to generate enough revenue to pay its employees.”

He compares the former approach to a football game, where there must be winners and losers. The Steady-State approach he compares to a fantasy role-playing game where the goal is to play as long as possible.

And here’s the real kicker. Research shows that the business that employ a Steady-State approach the best are family businesses. The chair of the Italian rice grower Riso Gallo, a family business, says, “We didn’t get this company from my parents, we are borrowing it from our children.”

Every church I’ve ever served has used “family” language to describe itself. This is a no-brainer.





One thought on “Steady-State Thinking vs. Church Growth

  1. Borrowing it from our children is absolutely our vision here. Someone borrowed it from us, tended it, and now we do the same, and hopefully (by our teaching/modeling) they will too.

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