The material in this section is taken from the author’s book: Newly revised and available to download here. See Link below
GROWTH! Why do some congregations grow, while others stay at the same number year after year, and sadly, some are dying? “At least we’re holding our own,” is how one church leader referred to his congregations’ no growth status. A preacher said this about the no growth status of his congregation, “It’s hard to grow in the part of the country where I preach. Nobody wants to obey the Gospel” One elder said, “Sad to say, our congregation is dead.”
In 50-plus years of full-time ministry, working with churches, training preachers, and researching church growth and leadership, I have documented some of the things that help churches grow, as well as those things that contribute to the death of a congregation. In this section of the Jeremiah Institute I am sharing some of the things that have, over the years, helped churches grow. Please note that I am not guaranteeing that these nor any one of these will work in every congregation. They are beginning points. Each congregation must discover what will cause growth in the soil where it is planted.
From my study of the Bible, and many books on leadership and church growth, as well as working with growing churches, I believe church growth consists of progress (growth) in three specific areas: (1) growth in quality, (2) growth in quantity, and (3) growth in organization. Unless a congregation is maintaining a balanced growth in these three areas, a weakness or deficiency occurs which hinders the total growth of a congregation. Just as the human body must have a balanced diet, rest and exercise to grow and be healthy, the local church must also have a balanced diet and exercise program to grow properly and be spiritually healthy.
Here are the three major mandate areas a congregation must strive to grow and be healthy in:
The New Testament, especially in the Book of Acts, clearly sets forth the numerical growth of the early church. Notice the following brief survey:
Congregations, therefore, must be interested in numbers. A number represents a soul—either lost or saved. As numbers increase the congregation increases. This is one phase of growth.
Spiritual growth quality is developed within the local congregation, as members “grow into the fullness of the measure of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-16). It is the spiritual growth from infancy to a full grown man in Christ. This quest was seen in the practices of the first members of the church, as recorded in Acts 2:42.
Here are some of the spiritual growth areas we read about in the New Testament Epistles:
Qualitative spiritual growth comes from a desire which is manifested in Bible study, prayer, and doing God’s word. This grows a congregation of members who have a Christ-like life style. This is essential for the health of the local church.
God has always required structure and organization among His people. He requires that things be “done decently and in order. A congregation that is organized in a manner prescribed and pleasing to God, is a congregation that will grow. A reading of 1 Corinthians 12:12-31 reveals the importance of every member in the Body of Christ. It is the task of biblical leadership to organize the local congregation into a functional local body that glorifies God (cf. Ephesians 3:21).
In Ephesians 4:11, 12, we read this about the leaders Christ wants in the church: “It was He who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to PREPARE God’s people for the work of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up” (NIV).
The Lord has ordained that elders be ordained to care for, feed, guide, protect, discipline, and lead the local congregation in spiritual matters (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:1-7; Hebrews 13:7, 17). The Lord also wants deacons appointed to serve the congregation (Acts 6:1-7; 1 Timothy 3:8-10).
Every Christian, especially leaders, in the church should study in detail the three areas discussed above. Every congregation is either (1) growing, (2) maintaining status quo, or (3) dying.
Growth is a biblical mandate. Will you obey it? Will your congregation prepare a plan for growth in all three areas noted above?
Visit this section from week to week to receive biblical church growth principles.