Take a look at your own church - the body of believers you associate with (most often inside the man-made structure) - is it growing? Is it stagnant? Is it wilting and drying up around the edges? I think many churches go through stages where they start to wilt - a wake up call to the people to take better care of the plant.
First, let's go through the basics of what is needed to grow a church...
1. SeedI think it's agreed upon that to grow any living thing, a seed is required. For me, when I thought seed, I immediately thought "Word of God." Your Christian Church must, before anything else, be built with the best seed available - God's Word.
2. SoilThe soil is the environment within which the seed dwells. This means each of us. We all have different nutrients we bring to the Church. And, it is our relationships and love which keep this soil healthy enough to nurture the seed and allow it to take root.
3. WaterWater is necessary to nourish the soil and the seed. This water is the refresher of God in our lives. It's prayer, and worship. It's songs of praise and reaching out to one another in God's name. It's the sermons preached, and the comfort we give others. It is everything we do individually and as a group that opens our hearts to God and strengthens our souls and allows God and his Word to not only take root, but to allow those roots to grow deep.
What is harmful to growing our Church?
4. Miracle growI worked for many years for an organic certification company, learning the ins and outs of applying certain chemicals to your fields and plants. These chemicals and synthetic substances do increase productivity for a while... but most are not healthy, and can damage the soil and the plant.
Applying synthetic chemicals to our soil and seed might bring more people in. It may make the church grow faster. But this is a man-made solution - not a Godly one. Miracle Grow in the church comes in the form of hipper music, and shorter and weaker sermons. It comes in the form of more money and "stuff". "Better" and more expensive pews and hymnals. A larger fellowship hall. More "fun". And less love and comfort and prayer. And the more that is applied, the more the soil is affected. People stop caring. They stop reaching out to others. They stop building relationships.
Miracle Grow may not kill your church. But it will produce damaged soil and a withering, unhealthy plant.
If you want your church to grow - get rid of the stuff you're using to force the church to grow faster and bigger. Focusing on the first 3 necessities may not grow the church as fast or as big as you want... but it will create deeper roots and a nourished soil, and a strong healthy plant.