(Editor’s note: This article by a long-time friend and gospel preacher seems appropriate to our current emphasis on outreach and evangelism. Please read it carefully and consider the points made!)
Over the last few years, numerous books and articles have been written about why churches grow (or don’t grow). They have offered all kinds of solutions to the problems of declining church growth. Some of their ideas are:
Bigger buildings / Better location / Good publicity / Plenty of parking / Better-qualified staff
All of these are good, and, if possible, churches need to have them. But when we look at the book of Acts, we see that the church described there grew because of some other reasons. Let’s consider some of them:
1. They preached the simple message of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:22-28). Their efforts were not directed at preaching social reform or some kind of revolutionary new gimmick to try on the people. Salvation was (and still is) man’s greatest need and they preached the message of the one who could provide it.
2. They enjoyed each other’s fellowship (Acts 2:43-46). They spent a lot of time together even when they were not in the public assembly. They ate, prayed, and studied together. They shared their possessions.
3. They had a common purpose (Acts 4:32). This verse says, “And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and one soul.” When people are held together by likemindedness and common purpose they are a powerful and successful force.
4. They were respected by outsiders (Acts 5:13). There was something about that group of Christians that commanded the respect of non-christians. Their work, morality, zeal, dedication, and spirituality seemed to make them much better than thouse outside of Christ.
5. They were committed (Acts 5:29). After being put in jail and being threatened, Peter said, “We must obey God rather than men.” Christianity was not (and is not now) a practice based on convenience or the mood of the one claiming to be a Christian, but on giving ourselves totally to the obedience of God’s will – whatever the cost.
6. They practiced evangelism everywhere every day (Acts 8:1-4). Those who were scattered as the result of the persecution “preached the word wherever they went.” Preaching and teaching Jesus was not limited to an apostolic hierarchy, but all taught as they had opportunity.
We can see that church growth in the New Testament was not the result of abundant church staffs, big buildings, or good locations, but by every Christian being dedicated to the cause of Christ and unswerving in his desire as he had talent and opportunity.