We can learn from the Bible that not all churches are prepared to grow in number and in spirit. For instance notice what is said about the church at Laodicea in
Revelation 3:15 "I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. 16 "So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. 17 "Because you say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing' -- and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked -- 18 "I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. 19 "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.
This church had reached the point to where it really wasn’t doing anything to grow. It was just a church that was going through the motions. It is very sad when congregation reaches this state because nothing will get done and that church will end up dieing instead of growing. Christians should never allow themselves to become lukewarm.
We need to understand for a church to grow that it must be evangelistic but evangelism alone will not cause a church to grow. Once we have reached out to lost and we get them here we must keep them here. I think we all know that many new converts are on fire for awhile but then they can quickly fade away and never be seen again. Unless a congregation is prepared to assimilate and nurture new converts, any success in evangelism may be short-lived.
In order for us to have growth that will last we must get ready to grow. This means that we must prepare ourselves as a congregation and individually.
What I would like to do know is offer several suggestion on what is involved in getting ready to grow as a congregation.
First of I think that is important that we offer assemblies that edify. The reason why this is important is because our assemblies are sometimes the first exposure that these people will have to the gospel. I think we need to evaluate ourselves and our church sometimes. We need observe how our congregation treats our visitors. What does visitor see and hear when they come to our church? Do they see a loving congregation or do they see cold hearted one? As you evaluate our church look and see how many people greet the visitors and talk with them? All of these things very important to the growth of a church because if they cannot see the love of our congregation they certainly are not going fell welcome. Jesus thought is very important that we show our love as Christians.
John 13:34 "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."
This same rule applies to those who have recently been converted. New converts need a lot of encouragement and we as congregation need to show these new converts lots of love and support to help them grow spiritually. You see new converts are usually excited about Christianity and they will attend all the services because the anxious to grow. Many times they can become discouraged as they begin to observe that others are not attending all the services. This is just one of many reasons what it is very important that we all attend every service that we possibly can so that we do not become discouragers or trend setters for others.
Another thing we must consider if we are serious about growing has to do with those who lead in our assemblies. Those who lead must take their role seriously. This means that you need to come prepared to serve your role doing so gladly and with enthusiasm. We should never have half hearted attitude when lead prayer, teach, preach or sing. What kind of impression does it leave with those if you appear to be bored with what you are doing?
This also applies to every member. We should all be excited about being in the house of God. There are several things we can do to show our enthusiasm for the church.
First of all we could arrive early to welcome visitors and talk with other members. You see it understandable that we will be late for services from time to time but if we are consistently late that doesn’t give a very good impression and may appear to new converts that you are not all that excited about worshiping God. Another thing we can do show our enthusiasm is to participate whole-heartedly in the singing and prayers and by paying attention to the lesson from Gods Word. Finally we can show our love for God’s people by staying around and visiting afterwards instead of making a dart for the door giving the appearance that you have had enough of worshiping God.
Another thing we can do to get ready to grow is to make sure that we assimilate and nurture new members.
We need to realize that new members of the Lords body are going to feel like
outsiders at first. They are going to be searching for a place to fit in and
it very important that we as congregation make them feel as part of our family.
To help you understand this I want you to imagine with me just for a minute.
Imagine that you just became converted to Lord and at first the congregation
gave you a lot of attention a love for the first two weeks. People were coming
up to you and talking to you and telling you how proud they are of you but then
all of a sudden the congregation stops talking to you and watch them of how
they talk to their same old buddies all the time. This continues to happen to
you week after week with maybe only an occasion hi. Do you think that you would
remain a faithful Christian for long? The chances are you would not. That why
it important that we don’t find ourselves talking to the same people all
the time. If want to grow and keep those new converts we need to work hard on
making them feel the true love of a Christian family. Many times these new converts
have a lot of problems to deal with and the mature Christian needs to be there
Romans 15:1 We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification. 3 For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, "The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me."
If we don’t take the time out for these new members they may soon wither away. But what does it take for a congregation to provide such things? It begins with what we are willing to do as individuals because a congregation’s strength and ability to grow is based upon how willing each member is. With this in mind let us know take a look at what we can do as individuals to get ready to grow.
First of all we need to strengthen our relationship with God.
The reason why this is so important is because the closer our relationship to God is the more people will be able to see God in us. You see it is not enough just to know about the lord we must live for the Lord. When we do this then we can truly share Gods blessings with those around us. We also need to remember that no matter how strong of a relationship we have with God it can always improve the relationship. Paul understood this.
Philippians 3:12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.
Notice Paul is not just talking to the convert no is telling those that are mature to have the same attitude that he had that we all have room to improve our relationship with God by doing more for him. Peter also speaks of our need to grow as individual in,
2 Peter 15 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. 8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
So you see there is a great need for each us to grow no matter how mature we become as Christians. Our spiritual growth will blossom if we take time out each day to study Gods word and to speak with him through prayer.
Psalm 1:1 Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor
stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; 2 But his
delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night.
3 He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth
its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does
We also grow when we make an effort to make to all the assembles of the saints as commanded for us do in
Hebrews 10: 24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
Another we can do to get ready to grow is to strengthen our relationships with one another.
The reason why this important is be because our love and unity is powerful example for Christ and remember Jesus said that those around us will know that we are his disciples though the love we show to one another. A strong network of loving Christians is essential in assimilating and nurturing new Christians. We also need to remember that no matter how strong our relationships are with another we can always improve or strengthen those relationships. Paul taught this to the Thessalonians.
1 Thessalonians 4:9 But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; 10 and indeed you do so toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, that you increase more and more;
This means that we should seek out opportunities to strengthen our bond in Christ. This can be done by regular church attendance and getting involved in various activities with your brethren. We also increase our bond the simple act of hospitality by inviting people to your home or by accepting such offers...
Another thing we must do as individuals to get ready to grow is develop relationships with the lost.
This is very important because unless we reach out to the lost how are ever going to be able to allow our light shine in the darkness of a sinners life. Jesus says,
Matthew 5:14 "You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 "Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
How can anyone be lead to the light if we never show it to them. Certain Jews in the 1st century thought you should just turn your back on the sinner but not Jesus.
Matthew 9:10 Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. 11 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, "Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" 12 When Jesus heard that, He said to them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 "But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice.' For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance
Since we are to follow Jesus example its important that we develop relationships with the lost so that through our examples we might lead them the Christ. We should never have the attitude that we should only love those and care for those that exactly like us because notice what Jesus says about this in,
Matthew 5:46 "For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 "And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so?
So in order to grow we must be willing to love more than just our family and friends. Developing relationships with the lost is an on-going process as go about doing this if see that a person is not showing any interest the good new of Jesus Christ then its time for us to move on to another. This is the concept that Jesus taught his disciples as they went from city to preaching that that kingdom was at hand.
Matthew 10:11 "Now whatever city or town you enter, inquire who in it is worthy, and stay there till you go out. 12 "And when you go into a household, greet it. 13 "If the household is worthy, let your peace come upon it. But if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14 "And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet.
So don’t limit yourself to the same people who keep avoiding the word of God and branch out and look for new lost people who are willing to hear the truth. You might remember how Paul did this. He first went to the Jews and when the rejected Gods word over and over again he started going to the Gentiles because they would listen.
Some of things that we can do to show that lost that we truly care for them and their fate of their soul is showing them hospitality by going to eat with or inviting them to your home. Its also very important that we invite them to come worship with us giving them an opportunity to meet other loving Christians so that they might develop a bond with them as well.
We have learned in this lesson that if we are going to be able to grow our congregation we have to ready and prepared to do so as a church an individually. Notice what Paul tell Timothy in,
2 Timothy 2:21 Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work. 22 Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
Paul is letting us know that if we are going to be useful to God we must prepared to serve him and bring honor to his name. It important that we pray for opportunities to be opened up to us so that we can reach the lost and grow the church both numerically and spiritually. The way I see it, we only have two choices we can either grow slowly toward spiritual decay by being lukewarm like the church at Laodicea or we can be an active church who has a great zeal for God and saving souls. There is a great example of a church like this found in,
Revelation 3:7 " And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, ' These things says He who is holy, He who is true, "He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens": 8 "I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name. 9 "Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie -- indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you. 10 "Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. 11 "Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.
You see when a church pray for the door to be open and then we actively take advantage of those open doors no one can close them on us but we must be strong as church and as individual. The strength of any church can only be as strong as each person makes it. If we as individuals fail to do our part it affects the overall strength of the church as whole.
I hope this lesson has taught you how important each member is to the church. I also hope that you understand that it very important that we prepare ourselves to grow because if we do not we can find ourselves being lukewarm like the church of Laodicea.