The church I attend just celebrated its 4th Anniversary and has experienced phenomenal growth. A small group of 15-20 people had been soliciting the help of a larger church in a nearby city to assist us in getting started. Today our numbers are in the range of 400 in our Sunday morning assemblies.
Throughout our short 4 years, there has been blessing upon blessing, and problem after problem, as we cling to our purpose of worship, outreach, fellowship, and giving the opportunity of "belonging." I have seen God's hand in our personal and numeric growth, and, as expected, I have seen the work of Satan and his attempts to cause our demise. All of that has brought me to the point of examining personal and collective motives, strengthening personal and collective devotion, along with looking forward to see where we go from here.
My purpose in sharing these things is not to list our accomplishments or failures. I simply wish to make some observations where most churches can strengthen themselves in their task of reaching others and striving to maintain a peaceful, welcoming atmosphere in which to worship. Here are some things for your consideration in reaching that goal.
1. A congregation of disciples with a focus on strengthening and making disciples. The church which was established on Pentecost, following the resurrection of Jesus, was a group devoted to fellowship, teaching and prayer. That composed the catalyst of strength for members of the Lord's body. Even through hardship and struggles, their discipleship led them to bring others into the church and even establish churches throughout the regions. They were devoted to God and devoted to each other. That's how discipleship leads to strong churches.
2. A knowledge of the gospel and a desire to share it with others. The power of the preaching from our pulpits is the power of the gospel. Likewise, the power of the gospel in our lives brings the desire and determination to share the gospel's power to save with everyone. Paul says the gospel is the power of God that brings salvation.
3. Worship from the heart with the dynamic of praising and honoring God. It's usually easy to see the genuineness of worship on the faces of those who fill our pews. During the singing, the prayers, even the sermon, it is detectable if we are "into" what's happening, or if we are sitting and observing, or if our hearts and minds are a million miles away. The truth is, Jesus has promised to be present when we gather together, so in worship we have as the honored guest, the one who died for us.
4. Each member using his/her spiritual gifts for God's glory in building up the body. God has blessed and equipped us all with a gift or gifts. As we become more active in the area of our gift, the result is a stronger body of believers, and a stronger witness to our neighbors.
The considerations could continue with a limitless list. Let's begin by praying about these and seeing our congregations grow in number and in spirituality as we become useful in the hands of God.