[This article originally appeared on the website of www.312ministries.com on 6-18-16]
Numbers have been down. Discouragement has been up. Your congregation started years ago and had initial growth, but now everything seems stagnant. It is like the congregation just comes together as a ritual to complete a checklist each week. Everyone seems happy to be there, but if anything, it is a front. In reality, people are asking, “What is the point?”
Churches across the country are asking this question: “Why aren’t we growing?” Usually the answer given by teachers and church leaders is that the community just doesn’t want to hear the truth. In other words, we tend to blame the soil that the word of God is planted in. In some cases this may be true; however, it may be wise to examine ourselves.
Could it be that the fault is not all on the soil, but the blame may be on the sowers of the word? Are we completely fulfilling God’s role for us as sowers of the word? Or is there something lacking?
In the Bible, we read of a church. This was a church that grew. This was the church that God built. This is the church God wants us to be. In Acts 2:42-27 we read about how the church grew. If we follow this pattern, then our churches will be in the right mindset for growth.
Growing Churches Worship (Acts 2:42-43)
Worship is vital towards our relationship with God. Without it we have no relationship. It is a time where the church can offer up true praise and sacrificial worship to God. “Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:28).
Think about how huge that is. We have the opportunity to come before the God who created everything and offer worship to Him. Notice how the passage says acceptable worship. We must worship God in the way that He wants to be worshiped.
How does your congregation view worship? Is it seen as a task that simply needs to be completed each week? Is it viewed simply as something we have to do? When we come before the throne of God in worship, we must do so with all of our heart. He accepts nothing less.
Growing Churches Serve (Acts 2:44-45)
When was the last time you really served someone? Jesus makes it clear that on judgment day, whether or not we have served on this earth will determine if we go to heaven or hell (Matt. 25:31-46). Serving is not easy to put into practice, because it requires us to put others before ourselves (Phil. 2:3-5). The book of James teaches us that true Christianity involves service and helping those in need.
In Acts 2:44, the Bible says Christians were selling their possessions and giving to those who were in need. That is love. That is how the church needs to be. When the world sees the church that Jesus sacrificed for, they need to see a church that sacrifices! A serving heart can lead so many to Jesus (Matt. 5:16).
Growing Churches Fellowship (Acts 2:46)
Have you ever wondered why God requires us to come together as a church to worship Him? Could we not worship alone in our homes? The reason God designed the church the way He did was so it could be one body, perfectly joined together (1 Cor. 1:10).
We come together so we can lift one another up. We are to “stir one another up in love and good works” (Heb. 10:24). We have one another to lean on, to cry with, to laugh with and to fight alongside of. Whether we are in times of sadness, struggle or gladness, we have each other (Gal. 6:1-2). Next to worship, fellowship with the children of God is one of the beautiful things about being the church.
Do you take advantage of opportunities to grow with other Christians in your congregation? Or does something always come up when you are invited to eat after worship or get together during the week? We need to lean on one another.
Growing Churches Go (Acts 2:47)
When our worship, service and fellowship are what God wants it to be, this next part comes naturally. Jesus has given us a mission to GO (Matt. 28:19-20). This is what the 1st century church did and because of their efforts, God added to the church.
If we plant the word and water it, God will give the increase (1 Cor. 3:6). We must go and tell others about Jesus and this beautiful church that He has built. When all of these things come together, growth will follow. The church that goes is the church that grows.
Why isn’t your church growing? Is it because the soil is not fertile? It is possible—but there are souls out there that are longing for a relationship with Jesus. They are looking for something more than what this world is offering. It is up to the church that Jesus bled and died for to find them and bring them to Jesus.
by Noah Icenhour