I had the privilege of addressing the pastors and elders of the Ohio Christian Union churches this past week on the subject of what makes “successful church growth” take place. I believe that the answer is so simple that we tend to look too hard for something that we think will be more effective. Although the answer is simple, the task is not easy.
First off, our goal should not be numerical growth. We are not called to grow the church. We are called to grow Christians. Paul told the Colossian what the goal of his ministry was.
Colossians 1:28 Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.
It was his goal to present individual Christians complete in Christ. That means having everything they needed to live as Christians. The amazing thing is that it is all in Christ. Not in programs or workshops or facilities, but IN CHRIST. In Colossians 2:10 he tells them “We are complete in Him.” So why would we look to other places to find what we need to be what He has called us to be? I love what John Calvin says about this verse;
Those, therefore, who do not rest satisfied with Christ alone, do injury to God in two ways, for besides detracting from the glory of God, by desiring something above his perfection, they are also ungrateful, inasmuch as they seek elsewhere what they already have in Christ. Paul, however, does not mean that the perfection of Christ is transfused into us, but that there are in him resources from which we may be filled, that nothing may be wanting to us.
With this said, it is our job to build Saints, not churches. As the Saints are built up into a healthy body, that healthy body will grow. That is what healthy bodies do. Not only that, but Jesus Himself said. “I will build My Church!” (Matthew 16:18). But He commanded us to make Disciples and teach them to obey what He had commanded. (Matthew 28:18-20) We need to be about the business that He gave us to do and not try to do His job.
Don’t take me to say that we should sit back and wait for Him to do all of the work. We need to BE the Church. We need to live our lives like real Disciples. When we are prepared for ministry, He will send us people to serve. The biggest problem that I see in most church growth stuff is that it neglects the church in order to make it bigger by focusing on quantity to the neglect of quality.
I really encourage you to listen to the audio from the presentation and also to check out the book that I gave away at the meeting, The Hospitality Commands.
Check out the audio by clicking on the link below
Biblical Church Growth – AUDIO