Summary: Progress and growth is a necessary part of a healthy life before the Lord
Nehemiah 3, 4:6, 6:15
Introduction: We lived near a small town called Webb City in MO. Until a year ago, it was under the direction of a city developer whose last name is Urban. I thought that was kind of humorous in itself, but a few years back I read that Webb City was going to take a census of their trees. We just had a census of people in the country this year, so most of you are familiar with how that sounds. Can you imagine what a census of trees would sound like? "Excuse me, Mr. Oak, may I ask you few questions? How long have you lived here? How many saplings do you have? Do any squirrels live in you?..." There is a point to Webb City’s tree census. They want to make a better future. They want, as a city to progress. Most cities do. In fact, that's the platform of most anyone running for a political office: "If you want progress, vote for me!"
Progress. It means moving forward, right? Someone wisely noted that if the opposite of pro is con, then the opposite of progress is [congress]!
Usually, progress is considered a positive and good thing, but I have to admit that as our kids began to grow up, we worked hard to avoid it. They kept trying to grow. We figured we’d put a stop to it. My daughter Jenni got a part-time job when she turned 16. Over time, she graduated from high school, and after some more time, decided she’d move out of the house. But we knew that as soon as she did that, she’d start trying to gain independence. But, we made the mistake of letting her, and, sure enough, she’s in college, and what’s more now she’s married. As much as we tried to stop her from working, and graduating from high school, and meeting the love of her life, she did it, and here we are living in different states even!
At least we have a chance with Andy. We’ve stopped feeding him. The more food we put in him, the bigger he keeps getting. It’s a never-ending cycle, so we’re putting a stop to it right now. We also have quit buying him bigger clothes. We figure, if there’s no room for him to grow, he can’t, so we trying to put a halt to it.
Not really! Kids grow. It just happens. If they get what they need, they grow in several ways. They’re supposed to. And if they don't, we begin to worry. Either something's wrong or they're not getting something they need.
Jesus said, "I will build my Church." (Mt 16:18). The Church is being built. Growth happens. And if it's not growing, it's not because we're not making it grow.
1 Corinthians 3:6-7 (NIV)
I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.
God is the One Who gives the increase. If growth isn’t happening here, we shouldn’t be asking, “What should we do to make it grow?” A better question would be, "What are we doing that's preventing growth?"
Over the past 10 years, CCC has averaged 48 additions to this church family each year. That means, in 10 years’ time, 480 people have become members here. 10 years ago, the average attendance was 473. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to realize that the church here hasn’t more than doubled in the past 10 years. Why? Some members have died, some have moved away, some have simply left. That means, to simply maintain our current membership numbers at the current rate, we have to see more than 48 people joining each year – at least one person a week. Just something to think about.
Especially since growth isn't measured just by our numbers.
There's another growth factor, and it's measured by more than just how full our auditorium is or whether or not we're running out of classrooms. It's called maturity.
We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity…
We have posed a question for this series: What do we need when life is BIG?"