Chinese Bamboo and Church Growth

Have you heard the story of the Chinese bamboo tree? There’s some debate to the validity of the claim, but the story is powerful nonetheless. Besides aren’t all good preacher stories a mix of truth and fiction?


The story goes like this, somewhere in the jungles of China there exists a bamboo tree. This tree is said to be remarkable because it doesn’t grow like most trees. Most trees grow steadily year after year.

The bamboo tree once the seed is planted, barely gets out of the ground within the first five years of it’s life. Yet, it has to be watered each and every day or it will die.

Then in the fifth year, something extraordinary happens, the tree begins to grow at an astonishing rate. Some people say it can grow up to 90 feet during just six weeks.

How is that possible?

Because even though growth wasn’t happening above the ground, something was happening below the surface. Under the ground the tree was developing roots. Roots that would be able to sustain the tree once this incredible growth occurred.

Now, you may be serving in a church where you’re not seeing any growth. This can be disheartening for anybody, no matter how strong your faith is.

Many of us have been tempted to give up in this situation, to stop watering the soil God has given us. To be honest, it feels like we’re wasting our time.

But maybe, God is wanting to do something beneath the surface. Maybe God is testing our faith. Maybe God is waiting for us to put the right systems in place, before sending us the growth we so desperately seek.

You see all of us get really excited about growth, but the pastors who experience growth, are the one’s who put in the work weeks, months, and years, before that growth ever occurs.

What’s your favorite preacher story? The Chinese bamboo tree is it fact or fiction? Please let us know by leaving a comment below, and make sure to subscribe to the blog to get tips on church growth, leadership, and more delivered to your inbox each week.

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