A farmer sows wheat and, granted that the soil is fertile, his harvest will be only what the seed was, allowing for the slight natural retrogression that usually follows each careless planting. Is it not plain that the quality of the seed is what matters most? Would it not be folly for the farmer to grow more and more and poorer and poorer wheat? Let him look to his seed if he would improve his harvest.
Should someone object that the seed is the Word and that since the Word remains always the same it will produce the same effect wherever and by whomsoever it is preached, I would reply that the first is true but not the second. Verily God’s Word is ever the same, but what it will do at any time in any place depends largely upon the moral purity, wisdom and spiritual power of those who preach it. There is nothing automatic about the truth. To do its most effective work it must be incarnated in the church.
Look at Acts 18 and 19. Apollos, a man mighty in the Scriptures, for all his faithfulness to the truth as he understood it, could produce only imperfect converts. Suppose Paul had not arrived when he did. It is not hard to imagine an immature, weak and ineffective church propagating itself in Ephesus.
So vitally important is spiritual quality that it is hardly too much to suggest that attempts to grow larger might well be suspended until we have become better.