Most churches wait for the growth before adding ministry programs and never see it because the structure isn’t in place for growth to happen. This structure must include the right programs with the right people leading those programs.
What are we waiting for? In what areas do our “administrative structures” need to grow in order to see numerical growth? What are these “adminstrative structures”? Should there be a programming priority (children’s ministry before youth ministry before worship ministry before…)?
Should the church build "administrative structures" and create the structure of an organized church in the expectations of numerical growth? Or does that erroneously assume that the church needs or even benefits from administrative structures? My point was that the greatest church growth in the history of Christianity happened at and immediately after Pentecost and there was no "administrative structures" in place, either before or after. When the Holy Spirit shook the room, Peter didn't say "Wait, we need nursery workers and a youth pastor first!". Peter just preached the Gospel and people were saved. They lived a Christian life together without the need or desire for structures and programs. Even in Acts 6 which Paul Edwards cited as an example of "administrative structures" we simply see the apostles recognizing a ministry need and calling on some men to help out.
Paul was pondering this based on a "lifecycle" of the church posted by Mark Driscoll at the Resurgence. I will agree with Mark that this is practically how church life goes because we place so much emphasis on the institution of the local church instead of the people. I don't think there is a shred of Biblical support for this idea of "Seasons of Church Life" model. What Driscoll describes is more akin to a corporate business model instead of a Biblical expression of the church. When the local church is focused on staff and structures and hierarchy and programs, it will inevitably ebb and flow because all of the focus is internalized on the institution itself. What we are doing, what are we teaching. When the local church focuses on people, going and preaching the Gospel to the lost and edifying and ministering to the gathered church, this ebb and flow can be avoided.