[Column] Love Quotient and Church Growth

Love Quotient and Church Growth

Written By Rev.Dr. Joshua Hong

Senior Pastor of Full Gospel Church of Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.

The church that loves grows and the church that grows loves. A prominent scholar on church growth, Dr. Charles Ahn presented a finding that love brings about the growth of church. He measured Love Quotient using 11 questions on love he devised. He distributed the questionnaires to over 8,000 churches nationwide and analyzed the results. An interesting discovery was made. The churches with high love quotient were growing churches. He found that love quotient was pivotal in new members’ adjustment and evangelization. The love quotient among the existing members was high in both growing and static churches. However, there was one thing that ser a growing church apart from a static church. It was that a growing church loves new comers and visitors more than does a static church. The study yielded an important finding that church growth is determined by how much a church is open to the seekers from the outside and how much it loves them.

The early church attests to the co-relationship between the love for outsiders and church growth. The believers in the early church, after being filled with the Holy Spirit, shared their possessions with the poor around them. Instead of seeking prayer and trance alone, they sought transformation through the life of sharing thus witnessing Spirit fulfilling to others. Such examples won favor among the public and consequently led to church growth and revival.

Well-known American sociologist of religion Rodney Stark in his book The Rise of Christianity positively analyzes how the early church rapidly grew. He had been curious as to how the Christian church that originated from the corner of a Roman colony grew at an accelerating rate and became the official religion of the Roman Empire. How was that possible? Rodney Stark speaks of the growth of the early church as follows:“ The early disciples of Jesus Christ were more compassionate than neighboring non-Christians were. They abundantly loved and served others.” Rodney Stark cites a historical example of a deadly epidemic. In the year of 165, there was a deadly outbreak of a contagious disease. Within 15 years, the 1/12 of the entire population in the empire died in this catastrophic disaster. Again in 251, another outbreak occurred and decimated most of the population in urban areas. At that time, non-Christians avoided any kind of contact with disease carriers and did utmost to preserve their own lives only. Christians, ironically, were exact opposite.

They willingly made a huge sacrifice by dedicating themselves to caring for and healing those outside the church. Without regard to possible risks, they attended to the needs of the sick. Even as they were dying after having contracted diseases, they were happy and peaceful. Without fearing for their lives, they practiced love and met their fate bravely. Their service touched many around them and brought them to Christianity.  This was the driving force behind the Christianization of the Roman Empire. We need to ponder upon the sacrificial love of Christ once again. When we practice love, society will change and church will grow.


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