The other day I saw someone tweet—though I cannot remember who it was—about Spurgeon’s philosophy of “church growth.” The tweet read something to the effect of “#Spurgeon on growth: “I will fill the pulpit, the people will fill the pews.”
The tweet intrigued me, so I went looking for the primary source. I stumbled upon an interesting collection of magazines entitled The Treasury: A Magazine of Religious and Current Thought for Pastor and People. The original Spurgeon quote came up in the October 1885 edition of The Pulpit Treasury, which was included in the collection (p. 386).
Under the subheading, “How The Pew Should View The Pulpit,” the author, “A Layman,” writes the following:
We read a piece of good advice that a minister gave on the occasion of the installation of a pastor. He said to pastor and people, “Let your motto be, ‘All at it, and always at it.'”
This certainly is the motto for every congregation that would accomplish the greatest amount of good. If the pulpit and pew shall be successful in Christian work there must be a ready hand and willing mind on the part of all. There is too frequently a desire to see the Church built up, but entirely too many of the members are willing to give all the credit to the preacher. As much as every pastor loves to see his work prosper, he cannot hope to see it unless there is a due proportion of work done by the membership of his church. There is a very close relation existing between the pulpit and pew. Pews without a pulpit would not look well, neither would a pulpit without pews. Spurgeon said to his students, in reply to a question how he succeeded so well, that “he filled the pulpit and the people the pew.” There is much then in filling both places well to make it agreeable and encouraging to all. (emphasis mine)
Simple and fitting words of encouragement for any congregation.