“Is the church where you attend growing?”
How would you answer this question? By what metric would you define growth? Attendance? Contribution? Baptisms?
While all of the above areas are important, they don’t completely define growth. So, how can we quantify it? Measure it? Describe it?
For a plant to grow certain factors are necessary. Water, light, temperature, nutrients, and soil all affect plant growth. In the same way there are 5 important factors necessary for church growth.
Following the conversions on Pentecost when the church was established in Jerusalem, Luke describes the activity of these Christians which would translate into greater growth.
Take a moment to read Acts 2:42-47. Then considers these factors contributing to and defining their growth.
“They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching (v. 42).
The second part of Jesus’ Great Commission involved “teaching” baptized believers “to observe all things” (Matt. 28:19). The book of Acts records the work of the apostles and evangelists who continued to teach new Christians, grounding them in the faith.
The churches’ work through the pastors, preachers and teaching involves edification so that the church can grow (Eph. 4:11-16). God expects new converts to develop spiritual maturity (1 Pet. 2:2).
Today there are so many resources to facilitate growth. In addition to regular Sunday and Wednesday Bible classes, there are web sites, books, videos, pod casts, special seminars, live streaming, and outside speakers with specialized knowledge and proven methods for growth.
The depth of church growth can be measured by its discipleship. Just remember this is not a single event, but an on going process.
First century Christians also “continually devoted themselves to…fellowship” (v. 42).
The word “fellowship” in the Bible is also translated “sharing” (2Cor. 9:13). Communion (2Cor. 13:4). Partakers (1 Pet 5:1). Partners (2 Cor. 8:23). And companions (Heb. 10:33).
These words suggest closeness, not only to the Lord but to each other. There are 59 “one another” commands in the Bible that speak specifically to our relationship together in Christ.
Growing churches practice fellowship beyond the meeting house. Extending hospitality, ministering, serving, sharing, and enjoying time together builds bonds of togetherness, affection, and comradeship.
Acts records these Christians “praising God,” meeting in the temple court for worship, breaking bread in communion, and joining together in prayer.
Worship, of course, is to be God directed. We worship to honor, praise and exalt Him. However, as John Ellas observed. “Worship as a vertical activity is obvious. Worship as a horizontal activity is a little less obvious, but is well supported in scripture.”
While 1 Corinthians 14 regulates the use of miraculous, spiritual gifts, it reminds us that worship is designed to edify the participants. In our praise we are “speaking to one another” (Eph. 5:19), as well as “teaching and admonishing one another” (Col. 3:16). Worship strengths. Inspires. Motivates. Encourages. And stimulates.
Worship leaders must put thought, time and effort into planning the worship service and providing an atmosphere conducive to soul stirring and joyful worship. No church can grow apart from God-ordained worship.
The first six chapters of Acts record several acts of benevolence in meeting specific financial and material needs. (Ax. 2:45; 4:32-36; 6:1-7). Interestingly, following the assistance of the Grecian widows, the Bible says,
“Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem…”
The sign seen in many buildings, “We enter to worship; we leave to serve” expresses a scriptural sentiment and an important factor in church growth.
Most ministry is accomplished outside of the church building. While it may be organized in a deacons’ meeting, it is executed by empowering members who are ministry-minded to meet one another’s needs. Almost every congregation has widows, aged, sick, and impoverished members who require our attention.
In addition, there are special occasions where tragedy strikes in the form of fire, floods, tornadoes or hurricanes where we can render assistance, not only locally but to brethren in other parts of the country or world (Acts 11:27-30).
Helping others helps us grow. And it helps to grow the church collectively.
A failure to fulfill the first four areas, often results in a lack of numerical growth. Our discipleship, fellowship, worship and ministry ought to translate into evangelistic outreach. It did in the first century, as “the Lord added to their number day by day…” (v.47).
Jesus’ command to “Go into all the world,” while given to the apostles, is by implication and application His charge to every church. “The Great Commission,” proclaimed Hudson Taylor, “is not an option to be considered; it is a command to be obeyed.”
Is your congregation growing?
If not, why not?
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman
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