Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Grow what?

On Sunday nights I've been leading a study through the "Seven Churches of Revelation" and this has been helpful to both warn and challenge. We talked last week about the desire for church growth. Depending on the motive and aim of that desire it could be a healthy and God-pleasing desire or it could be a desire reflecting selfishness and spiritual deadness. It is good to want the kingdom of God to grow and when the kingdom expands new disciples are added to established churches and new churches are started. So numerical growth is a byproduct of kingdom growth. Of course kingdom growth comes by faithful gospel proclamation and the gracious work of God using that proclamation to awaken a spiritual zombie (walking dead- Ephesians 2:1-2) to a new life in Christ. If you really desire true church growth you will faithfully proclaim and live out the gospel. You will invest time in unbelievers to lead them to understanding the gospel of the Lord Jesus. You will invest your life into new believers to help them grow as disciples of the Lord Jesus. So do you really want your church to grow?

I'm vexed by those who say they want church growth but seem apathetic about faithfulness to the Great Commission. Unfortunately what some people mean by "church growth" is actually club growth. They have a club that they don't want to go away. They have identity in that club and influence in that club that requires more people to surround that club to validate it. So the desire for more people to come to the church is not due to a love for Jesus and a desire to see Him magnified and enjoyed in another person's life. The desire for more people to come is so that the club would be magnified and enjoyed. I was encouraged as those who were present last Sunday night resoundingly responded that they did not want to be satisfied with "club growth" but wanted God to grow His church. I pray that is the desire of all our churches and that we'd guard ourselves from the spiritual deadness that permeated churches like the one in Sardis 2000 years ago.

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