Can the church grow today?
One ministry expert once said, “Without major change in leadership style, congregational dynamics, ministry vision or some other significant aspect of church-life, churches that have existed for more than five years will most likely stay the size they are now, with only moderate growth over time.” The statistic among American churches confirm that view. Less than 20% are growing and among those less than 5% grow through evangelism.
If you were to do a quick search on Amazon, you would find volumes of books written about church growth. Some with good insight. Some not worth the paper they are printed on. But perhaps the best information available to understand church growth is what is found in scripture. And, especially the model of the quickest growing church to have ever existed: Jerusalem. If a church wants to grow, they should follow the model of early Christians. Consider what that means . . .
Preach the gospel as good news. The gospel is fantastic news and early Christians viewed it as good. When Philip taught the Eunuch, he shared the good news about Jesus (Acts 8:30–35). Too often Christians spend more time focused on bad news rather than good news. Instead of sharing the good news of Jesus, they focus on immorality, false doctrine, bad decisions, etc. Paul said people would not believe, if no one taught them the good news (Rom. 10:13–15). Share the good news.
Love one another. No group of Christians has ever exhibited love the way those in Jerusalem did. They sold their own possessions to make sure others had what they needed (Acts 2:44–47). They didn’t just love in word; they loved through their actions (1 John 3:14–18). It is easy to forget that Jesus said the most identifiable quality of his disciples would be their love for one another (John 13:34–35). The world needs the love that Christians can offer them. Show that love.
See the Great Commission as a personal mission. Jesus told the disciples to go throughout the world proclaiming the good news about Jesus (Matt. 28:18–20; Mark 16:15–16). Too often Christians read that as the mission given to the Apostles at Jesus’ death. But each Christian should have a deeper and more personal connection than that. Those words are what Jesus expects of disciples today. The church in Thessalonica had a reputation for being evangelistic (1 Thess. 1:6–8). What is your reputation?
Boldly challenge sin. Early Christians stood up to sinful practices. Paul told the Roman brethren to be a living sacrifice instead of a sinful conformity (Rom. 12:1–2). He instructed the Corinthian brethren on how to remove the sinful influence from their midst (1 Cor. 5:1–5). Early Christians did not ignore sin. They stood up to it.
Do not love your life. Perhaps the Christians greatest challenge today… loving this world and this life too much. We love our families. We love where we live We love this life. But early Christians “loved not their lives unto death” (Rev. 12:11). They understood that this world was indeed not home. It was merely a journey to go to their real home where they would have real life. They refused to be too attached to this world.
The church can grow today. But it will depend on its members living up to the pattern that has already been set and established. And this pattern will attract people who observe our conduct and see that it is compatible with the story of the Bible—with the Good News.
Follow the steps of the early Christians . . . and watch the church grow!