I grew up on a farm in north Texas. We grew things like wheat, oats, and maize. But primarily we raised hay that we sold to horse ranches. Now horses have a quite delicate digestive system. They are not like cows who can eat almost any kind of hay, even hay that has tons of weeds or even that which is full of mold. Cows can do this because they have a stomach with four compartments which allows them to digest and re-digest food before it enters into their system. Horses don't have stomachs like that. So when they eat weeds or mold, they get sick.
On the farm, growth is natural. It's going to occur, even if you don't do anything to a field. But growth for growth's sake is a farmer's enemy. Weeds grow much faster than grass. Because we were raising hay to feed to horses, we had to pay attention to what we were we growing, not just the fact that we were growing it.
In other words, we could not fall into the trap that growth automatically meant health.
This is true of the church also. We are quick to ask "How much are we growing?" We base this in the assumption that healthy things grow. But are we as quick to ask "What are we growing?" Big numbers are not the enemy. I know of a lot of small churches who are not asking questions about what they are growing. However, we must not be so fixated on How much? that we fail to really understand the What?
Do you know what you are growing in your church? How do you describe your church when someone asks? What's going on beneath the surface, beneath the numbers of attenders?
Small group leaders could ask the same questions. If you are only focused on how many people came to your meeting this week, you might be missing what's really going on in their lives.