|Transfer Growth. In church growth speak that's talking about growth in a church resulting from the Christians moving from one congregation to another. Transfer growth seemingly is never talked about positively. Some how it's always inherently bad that Christians move from one congregation to another and supposedly points to our consumer-driven, church-shopping world where we're looking to get our needs met. Certainly transfer growth is never viewed as spiritual.
As usual, I disagree. People move from one church to another sometimes for really good reasons. Most obviously transfer growth happens when a family moves to a new community and needs to find a new church. No one decries that. But let's consider some other less obvious reasons.
Sometimes churches change their theology or ministry practice to the detriment of their health or contrary to Biblical theology. They become crazy health and wealth gospel, God is a vending machine or genie, who grants your every wish and everything that thwarts what you want is spiritual warfare. Other times they begin to deny the divinity of Christ, or his singular role in salvation history, or begin to affirm sexual ethics not in line with Scripture. When that happens, good Christian people find a new church home. But nonetheless, it appears statistically as transfer growth.
Here's one I like. Sometimes church going people have a conversion experience and become born again outside the ministry and influence of the church. Often times when that happens the lights go on and people become disenchanted with their church that did not lead them to Jesus. So they find a new church. Transfer growth.
Here's a reason I like even more. Sometimes God in his sovereignty, leads people to find a new church home. In 1 Corinthians it says, "God arranges the parts of the body as He sees fit." I'm sure everybody who moves to find a new church thinks God has led them to do that. Truth is some do leave for poor reasons: conflict, selfishness, etc. But also true is that people respond to the leading of God, who for reasons known only to Him, leads people to find a new church home. Some times He does it for our own good and growth and it's obvious. Yet other times He leads and we don't know why. But certainly it would be considered transfer growth.
I'm OK with all of those. In fact, I'll bet a lot of transfer growth is because of good reasons like these. As pastors, let's not worry about transfer growth any more and focus on the given task of creating and growing disciples of Jesus with the people God has given us.|