The One Thing You Need to Know About Church Growth

This was the introduction of my sermon this week. We took a look at the Parable of the Sower (Luke 8:1-15). I wanted for us to hear this parable in a way that we don’t typically hear it. So I came up with a little story that tries to give us ears to hear this story in a new way. Enjoy!


I get spam emails like everyone else. Except, as a minister, the kind of spam I get is a little different. Here are a few subject lines from my spam folder:
1. Free webinar on how to rapidly grow your church now
2. How this one decision can increase your ministry effectiveness by 20% in just 30 days
3. The real reason your church isn’t growing (and one thing you can do about it right now)
4. How to raise 10 million dollars in 73 days!

The elders are out there thinking, “Hey, why aren’t you clicking on these?!”

Well, I finally got curious enough to click on one. This one’s title was, “The one thing you need to know about church growth”

And it was an invitation to a conference that was being held in Dallas. So I perked up – hey that’s close enough for me to maybe go. So I read on. And it said that the event coordinators were not going to reveal the identity of the keynote speaker. And I got a little suspicious after that, but it went on to say that this speaker was internationally recognized as THE expert in church growth strategies and that the coordinators had chosen not to reveal his identity because if they did too many people would attend the event, this guy is so popular that even if it was sold out people would force their way into the event to hear him. So this was their way of limiting how many people would attend the conference.

Well, that got me curious enough. I thought, hey, it’s in Dallas, we’ll take the kids to Irving spend time with our families and I can go to this conference. Might as well, no harm no foul.

So we go stay with my parents that weekend. And the day of the event comes and I drive the 10 miles from my parent’s house to the hotel where the conference is being held. And I couldn’t find a parking spot. It was packed. And I’m thinking, hey maybe I made a good decision here.

So I make my way to the conference room and find a seat. And this place is jam packed with all kinds of people – and I’m looking around and I see a few faces I recognize from the backs of book covers and TV appearances. I see people like Max Lucado, and Billy Graham, and Philip Yancey. And I’m thinking, man I am glad I came – because if this guy is drawing people like this, he really must be good. Usually those are the guys that speak at these conferences.

Well, finally the host of the conference goes up on stage to introduce the mystery speaker. And he says, “I am honored to introduce our speaker today. There really aren’t words to describe how incredibly important the work he does has been for Christians all around the world. He is THE authority on all topics related to the church. He really needs no introduction. You’ll know him when you see him. Here to share with us the one thing we need to know about church growth – Ladies and Gentlemen our speaker.”

And out walks this guy in his early thirties. He was wearing sandals and had a short scraggly beard. And I couldn’t tell for sure from where I was but it almost looked as though there were holes in each of his hands. He looked at us for a moment and then began:

“A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.”

“Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”

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