Summary: If we are to see our churches growing like the early church, we must be like the Jerusalem church. Certain characteristics should be present in our churches today before growth takes place.
The whole process of growth is caused by God. A farmer plows his field, sows the seed and fertilizes and cultivates the plant--all the while knowing that, in the final analysis, he is utterly dependent on forces outside himself. He knows he cannot cause the seed to germinate nor can he produce the rain and sunshine to grow and harvest the crop. For a successful harvest, he expects these things from God.
Farming is a joint venture of God and the Farmer. The farmer cannot do what God must do, and God expects the farmer to do his own share. In the same way, church growth is a joint venture of God and the Church. Paul writes, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, But God made it grow.” (1 Cor. 3:6)
If we are to see our churches growing like the early church, we must be like the Jerusalem church. Certain characteristics should be present in our churches today before growth takes place. Acts 2:42-47 clearly exemplifies these qualities of a growing church.
I. A Church "MUST" Have Equal Importance To All Ministries (v.42)
The early church struck the right balance through the fourfold ministry of teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayer. I could not over emphasize the importance of all four spiritual growth and fruit bearing of the church. Feeding of the flock of God with the pure Word is indispensable. Fellowship among the saints and communion through the Lord’s table are essential for mutual edification and encouragement. Last, the church must consider prayer as the primary weapon for spiritual warfare. C. Peter Wagner, an authority on church growth, has this to say, “The more deeply I dig beneath the surface of the church growth principles, the more thoroughly convinced I become that the real battle is a spiritual battle and that our principal weapon is prayer.”
II. A Church "MUST" Experiences The Power of God at Work (v.43)
Many miracles and wonders were done through the Apostles. However, I believe that the greatest manifestation of God’s power is still the genuine changed lives. Such changes takes place as a person draws near to God and become God-fearing. This is the essence of the verse, “Everyone was filled with awe…”
III. A Church "MUST" Demonstrate The True Love For One Another (vs.44-45)
More often, it is easier to say we love our brother than to show him that we do (Jas. 2:16). The early church did something we may find very hard to duplicate—They sold their possessions and shared with those in need. They expressed their love not only in words but also in concrete, tangible ways. Similarly, there are several ways that we could do to practice this principle in our churches today. Remember, we cannot love without giving.
IV. A Church "MUST" Displays a Burning Zeal For the Ministry (v.46)
The early church did not just week every week or twice a week but every day! I suppose this was made possible because the early church did not simply play church like some churches are doing today but they considered church life an integral part of their Christian life. They continued to meet together in the temple courts and in their homes.
V. A Church "MUST" Be Known As a Worshipping Church (v.47a)
In the early church, transformation that happened among the body of believers became evident even to those outside the church. Their ministries among themselves and their sincere and dynamic worship showed their gratitude to the one who made all things possible.
VI. A Church "MUST" Be A Good Neighbor (v.47b)
The early church had such positive testimony before the watching world. As a result, they enjoyed the favor of not only few but practically all the people around them.
Because of all these qualities, many people in Jerusalem were attracted to their message of salvation. As the church was doing the Lord’s work, “the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” (v.47)
Can we make our churches today grow both in quality and quantity? Yes! First, we depend on God. His will is clear. He wants His church to grow and to mature. Second we depend on one another and do the task together.
Indeed, church growth—both qualitatively and quantitatively—is the work of God. But do remember this: Church growth is a test of the faithfulness of the people of God to the ministry He has called them.