From the Pastor's Desk
How to Grow the Church
In the 21st century, the question remains, how do we grow the church. There are strategies and plans and programs – it’s probably a multi-million dollar industry, selling “how to grow the church” plans. But we have the original plan for church growth, right there, in the Bible.
Acts 1:15, right after Jesus was ascended into heaven, it says there were about 120 believers. In Acts 2:41, right after Pentecost, it says there were about 3000 members added.
So we’re up to 3120 people. But the growth didn’t stop on the day of Pentecost. In Acts 2:47, it says “the Lord added daily the people who were being saved.” Do the math: if there was only 1 person per day, the church grew by 365 people per year.
In Acts 4:4, Peter and John were arrested for sharing the good news of Christ, and were thrown in jail at the same time that it says, “many believed, and the number of men grew to 5000” – Of course, there were women and children too – so there were likely about 15,000 people including women and children in the body of believers.
120 + 3000 + “added daily,” after a moderately short time, becomes about 15,000 people. Acts talks about multitudes – too many people to count. The Lord has been adding to their numbers ... and then, in Acts 6:1, we move from addition to multiplication – “the number of disciples rapidly multiplied.” And in 6:7, “the number of believers increased rapidly.” This continued – in Acts 21:20, it says that tens of thousands have become believers.
Rapid, exponential growth happened in the beginning of the Church. How did they do that??? How did a persecuted body, unpopular with the ruling classes, grow so quickly? The answer is found in Acts 2:46.
Acts 2:46 says, “they met day after day in the temple courts and from house to house.” The temple courts – plural – were huge. They weren’t inside the temple itself – only the high priest could go in there, and then only once a year. So the people gathered in the courts. They were huge – come could hold as many as 50,000 people, standing up (they didn’t sit for worship). The gathered day after day in the temple courts. The worshiped, they heard the teaching/preaching of the apostles, they shared the breaking of the bread.
And they met from house to house. Fellowship, support, encouragement ... small groups. It was in the small groups that people gathered to grow in their faith. Notice in most of the letters written by Paul, where he says, “greet those who meet in the house of this person or that person” – the churches in the various cities around Asia Minor were small groups who met in houses, and then joined with other house groups for worship.
The dual strategy for large group worship and small group fellowship is the Biblical strategy and structure for the church – not just for then, but for today.
When we do it like the New Testament, we’ll have results like the New Testament.
In October, we began new small groups to walk through “Soul Reset” together. Some 27 people (nearly 1⁄4 of our current attendance) began to meet in small groups. How about you? Will you commit to meet weekly with some other church folks, to pray together and study together, to fellowship and serve together? Ask the folks worshipping near you to join in a group – or ask me and I’ll help you connect.
We grow in our faith, in our discipleship, in our love for neighbor and our love for God when we grow together. We grow the body of Christ, and the congregation of Desert Chapel, when we grow together.