I’d like to comment on church growth/decline, as someone who is very active in a Christian Science branch church with a small congregation. I think the signs of growth are everywhere, if we look in the right places. For a Science solely based on spiritual growth, we cannot look at a material record and judge our progress by it.
I like going to the Bible for historical perspective on our current situation. There are approximately 6,000 years of scriptural history leading up to Mrs. Eddy’s discovery of Christian Science (only a century and a half ago). We find ourselves in the very early stages of this movement. What do we learn from the Scriptures? Though the ancient texts are widely accepted in churches today, they were fiercely rejected by the majority in their times. The discoveries we find in the Bible were each understood and protected by a small number of followers, until a critical mass (usually through experience) was ready to accept them.
To put ourselves into perspective, a century and a half after Jesus’ teachings, his followers were being persecuted everywhere. They met in small groups, in basements, in private—working together to discern and put into practice what had been witnessed in Galilee. The bulk of the Jewish community was still more concerned with the re-establishment of a religious practice that would resemble the glorious days of Solomon, or what was considered the peak of that movement. They still measured their progress by the material signs of what had been; they could not understand what was happening, much less what it meant.