How does a church grow Biblically? As we take a look at this “popular” subject, we have to remember that, as Christians, we must start and stand on God's Word (The Bible) for all of our views. This is no different, although you might get confused while walking around a "Christian" bookstore. You will see all kinds of strategies and different “ways” to manipulate people into coming through your doors. One of the things that you have to remember is that it is not your doors. The doors (as well as the rest of the church) belong to Christ. He gave you the lamp stand. If He chooses to grow the body of believers in your church, that's His prerogative to do so.
Mark Dever once said, "What you draw them with, is what you keep them with." Far too many churches today try to use gimmicks and different types of music styles to make it seem like you are going to a concert put on by the world. Think about it - how many times have you heard a variation of one or more of the following statements:
Yet, nowhere in the Bible will you see any of these, nor any other worldly ways, being used to grow a church. Nor will you find the insinuation that is given in some books, "Make sure you buy a fog machine and a powerful sound system to bring in potential new members."
There is, however, a biblical way to plant, run and grow a church. God has already given us instructions on how to do this - in the book of Acts. When you read through this book, you will see many points of interest on this subject. Here are just 5 that I am going to highlight. (This is not an exhaustive study, so I would suggest that you do a more thorough one on your own.)
The first in the list is fellowshipping with those in our church. We should have contact with those in our local body so that we can bear each other’s burdens and be praying for each other. In too many churches these days, many people keep to themselves thinking that they can either handle things all on their own, or they don’t want to be transparent regarding their lives. In almost every case, that is a result of pride - they need to repent because they are sinning. Some do it because they are nervous to open up to others, but they also need to repent because they are being disobedient. We are told to mourn with those who mourn and weep with those who weep. Upon further consideration, there is yet another possibility, they are living in outright sin and don’t want it exposed. Willful unrepentant sin, according to 1 John, means that the person is of the devil and not saved. Fellowship is vitally important and far too often overlooked in today's modern Church.
The second point is in regards to prayer. How serious do you take your prayer life? Do you only do it when you can fit it into your busy schedule? Do you use the common excuse "I just can't seem to find time!" That is foolish! Many find the time to watch TV. Did you know children aged 2-11 watch over 24 hours of TV per week, while adults aged 35-49 watch more than 33 hours in that same time period? This has become the modern family god (idol). They devote their time and selves to it.
Praying for each other is an important part of fellowship as well. It shows you care and we are told by our Lord to pray. Study the life of Jesus and you will see that His life is ear marked by prayer. The four Gospels scream of constant prayer!
The third point is sitting under strong, unapologetic, expository preaching. Before I start, I have to say that a topical sermon from time to time is not bad. But that should NOT be your regular diet at church. Your pastor should be preaching and proclaiming the Word of God every week. God’s Word is kept as pure as possible and taken in context. This is best done when teaching through God’s Word verse-by-verse. This expository preaching communicates God’s thoughts to us as unadulterated as possible. Topically based preaching tends to cherry-pick verses out-of-context to conform to the thoughts of the Pastor.
God’s Word is to be used to enable us to be conformed to the image of Christ more and more throughout life. God's word is sharper than any two edged sword and it cuts deep. It also does not return void. He uses this for His purpose. Not to mention, the Crescendo of the Bible -The Gospel - should be preached every week. There has never been a time I have heard the Gospel and thought "this is getting old". If you are thinking that, repent! You are not saved and the wrath of God abides on you.
When the first the points of the list are going well, then it breeds the environment for points 4 and 5 to be done. (Good Orthodoxy should result in good orthopraxy). Good Biblical teaching should give us a love in our hearts for the lost. Remember, those who have not repented and trusted in Christ before they die go directly to hell- no passing “go” and collecting a second chance.
Evangelism, as spoken of in point #4, is the mode or vehicle that God uses to grow His church. When we go out to spread the Glorious Gospel, we should be praying for those that we speak with to be saved, if it is God’s will. It is those people whom God saves that are perfect for you to invite to your sound, Biblical church. It is also a great idea to leave your email with them for any questions or for prayer requests for them.
The fifth and final point that was listed is discipleship. This is vitally important for every person in the church, especially the new believers. This is crucial to the spiritual growth of those you surround yourself with in the church body. Older men are instructed to help the younger just like the older women are told to help instruct the younger. We are to pour into each other and to go through this fleeting life together.
If you have been saved, you can see how all of these points tie together. There are many ways to turn your church body into a goat farm, but God gave us specific instructions on how NOT to do that. Christ will grow His church however and whenever He likes; we must stay faithful to preach His word and His Gospel to grow the church Biblically!
Pastor Jonathan Eckel