Summary: In the Book of Acts, we see nothing short of explosive, exponential growth. The church is wired for growth. The explosive growth of the early church is testimony to the nature of the church to grow. So what do we have to do to see explosive growth in our
In the Book of Acts, we see nothing short of explosive, exponential growth. In Acts Chapter 1, there are 12 disciples and 120 believers. Jesus is no longer physically with them. They are bewildered and frightened but all that changes on the day of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit comes upon them and they’re filled with power. These timid disciples are changed into bold witnesses for Jesus, who take the transforming Gospel into the streets. The results are electrifying. In response to Peter’s first sermon, 3000 were baptized and became followers of Jesus. (Acts 2:41 NIV) Then in Chapter 4, we read of Peter and John speaking to the Jewish leaders in the Sanhedrin. “Many who heard the message believed, and the number of men grew to about 5000.” (Acts 4:4) From there, the Gospel message goes back out onto the streets, where there are miraculous signs and wonders performed by the Apostles. The result is “…more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number”. (Acts 5:14 NIV)
In fact, Acts tells us that “each day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.” Acts 2:47 In every chapter of Acts, we see that the church is growing. But it really took off when the gospel jumped the cultural barrier, as Peter and then Paul began telling non-Jews, and the Christian faith began to spread far beyond Jerusalem and Judea. The best estimates are that by 350 AD, 33 million of the 60 million in the Western world were followers of Jesus.
One of the lessons of the Book of Acts is that the church is a living, dynamic organism and all organisms are wired for growth. The explosive growth of the early church is testimony to the nature of the church to grow. Growth is inbred in the very genes of the church is critical and thus every part of the church’s life and mission is meant to lead to growth. Even when it reaches maturity, growth still occurs. For example, the human body in adulthood, completely replaces itself with new cells every seven years, renewing it for the work ahead. If growth is in¬herent in the life of the body of Christ, then renewal is central to that growth as the body reaches adulthood. Essential to renewal is that the church must reclaim its purpose to grow. God’s hope and dream is that every church would grow because its mission is reaching his children with the Gospel to return to a personal relationship with Him and to join Him in building His kingdom here on earth.
I want to be very clear here. We’re not talking about numbers. We’re talking about people. We’re talking about souls. If you don’t realize that then you need to re-read the Gospels and the Book of Acts. There’s an eternity hanging in the balance. And if a person is not reached for Jesus Christ, the Scriptures tell us they will live eternally separated from God. Numerical growth is never just numbers but rather individual persons who encounter the forgiving grace of God and are transformed by the renewing work of Jesus Christ.
Secondly, it’s not about growing our church. It’s about reaching our city. There are far more people in the city than there are in our church and there always will be. But we are called to transform the city as we establish the kingdom of God. You have to be more focused on the kingdom than Gretna UMC. The concept of church gets in the way of explosive growth. Because when you begin to think about the church first, you begin to think that you’re responsible for the church and its members. No, you’re responsible for your city. Because biblically, there’s only one Church in a city and the purpose of that Church isn’t to grow but to transform the city by building the kingdom of God. But you can’t transform the city and build the kingdom of God if we’re a small church. Even if you gather many small churches together, you can’t transform the city. Cities begin to change when a church grows and exerts more influence on its city.
So that raises a question? What’s your vision for this church? Growth starts with your dream or vision for the church. If your dream is small enough that we can accomplish it, then it means we don’t need God. That’s a recipe against explosive growth. God’s dream is always bigger than the dream you have for your life or for your church. What you need to do is take your goal for this church or for your life and stretch it beyond what you can accomplish on your own. Explosive growth is possible. It’s possible to double, triple or quadruple the size of a church. We see this in the Book of Acts. Dynamic, explosive growth is God’s will and design for the church down to its very DNA. But let me also warn you that explosive growth is difficult. Everything great for the kingdom of God or for Jesus Christ always is. It calls for you to invest everything you have and everything you are in God and His call for your life. It takes time and effort, sacrifice and hard work. And first of all, it starts with you.