Another Look at Church Growth--2

"Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers...praising God and having favor with all the people...and the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved...the number of men came to be about five thousand." (Acts 2:41-42, 47; 4:4)

Dr. Paul Benjamin, Director of National Church Growth Research in Washington, D.C. has cited nine reasons why some "churches" grow and others do not.

Churches that grow are the ones that genuinely want to grow.
Their members are not timid about telling others what they believe.
They constantly, in one way of another, say to those in the community, "we want you to join us."
They teach to change lives. Bible facts are the foundation of the teaching from the pulpit and in their classes.
They are conservative, biblically speaking.
They are constantly starting new congregations.
They have a definite doctrinal basis. They have a clear, distinctive message. Their members know there is something definite to be believed.
They have what is termed the "equipping ministry" concept. The members do not think of the preacher as the one whose primary function is to minister to the members, but his role is to teach them how to minister to others.
They consider evangelism as an all-important thrust.
I find it refreshing to note that the principles Dr. Benjamin identified as important for church growth are the same as those found in the New Testament, principles characteristic of the first century church. The principles for church growth have not changed. Methods may change, principles do not.

If in our search for church growth we depend too much on special promotions, new programs, innovative worship, dynamic preaching, constant youth activities, and positive thinking as the panaceas to foster growth, we are missing the boat. According to Dr. Benjamin and the example of the first century church, churches grow when they want to grow (Acts 2:42), when they want to tell others about Jesus (Acts 8:4), when they want to change lives (Acts 3:6), when they seek to be guided only by the word of God (Acts 4:19-20), when they have a definite doctrine (2 John 9-10), when they desire to help and encourage others (Acts 4:34-35), and when evangelism is their primary goal (Acts 5:42).

We may modernize the methods, but the principles are eternal.

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