Summary: God designed the church to grow. We need to look again at what the Bible says about that and begin to do what God blesses with increase.
Jesus once said that the kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field. Though it is smaller than other seeds, when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches. Matt. 13:31-32
Jesus also compared the kingdom to leaven, which a woman took and hid in three pecks of flour. Soon the leaven spread throughout it all!
God’s kingdom grows and spreads. It is spiritually organic and alive and God has initiated the kingdom of Christ on earth to reach out and gather in whosoever will. We are light and salt in this world for Christ. God has equipped us for growth and for facing the challenges growth brings. Acts 6 demonstrates both of these.
Imagine what would happen if this congregation grew by just another 160 members this year. What would we do? How would we handle it? A more important question might be, why are we NOT planning and working for this to happen? I mean, in light of what Jesus commissioned us to do, where is our faith? Where are the works that demonstrate our faith?
Multiply 160 by 10 or by 100. Imagine 1600 members of this congregation… how about 16,000? Why can’t we even think in those terms today? What have we become that would stand in the way of unleashing God’s power to reach people for Him today? When we study Acts, we see God working in the church in ways that can blow our minds.
The church in Jerusalem was increasing daily. If we did that, it would mean more than 160 by December 31. Look back with me from Acts chapter 2 at the growth statements God’s word gives us. Remember when you read and hear these that these are from your Bible. This is not my idea, or our elders’ idea. This is God. This is God at work. This is Jesus building His church, ok? Listen and answer this: is God interested in numbers in His church? We want commitment, we want maturity, we want spiritual depth, but God shows us that where you have commitment, maturity and spiritual depth, you tend to have growth in numbers. Acts 2:41, 47, 4:4, 5:14, 28, 6:1, 7. Now go ahead to 9:31. Did you hear that? The church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria! From 120 gathered in Acts 1 to pray before Pentecost, to thousands throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria… and this in just a few short but amazing years.
I have been here at Signal Mountain for 15 years. This church more than doubled in the first five years, then we ran out of space and we have stopped growing in number. What has happened to our vision and growth? Surely none of us here wants to face God some day and say that we liked the size of our congregation too much to make room for more, do we?
God’s word challenges us, does it not? When we get comfortable, and satisfied with where we are and stop reaching out and sharing our faith in Jesus Christ, we are in danger of becoming lukewarm. We are in danger of being salt that loses its flavor. God wants more from us than attendance and contributions toward missions elsewhere. God wants us to love Him enough to share the gospel of Jesus Christ, His Son and bring others to Him here too.
The simplest thing you can do is invite someone to come with you to church. Can you do that? Is that too much for God to expect from you? Surely all of us here can ask someone to come to church with us. Maybe you can’t take someone through the scriptures and show them how to become a Christian. Maybe you can’t answer all the questions that someone may ask you. Maybe you can’t do a lot of things for Christ that you see others doing. But, you can ask someone to come to church and hear about Jesus and experience His presence among us, can’t you? Sure you can! The only real question is will you do it? What might happen if all of us took seriously this one challenge and prayerfully, looked for someone to invite to church with us and did it. Just one a week!
What happens when you grow in number? We see that you must also grow in leadership.
Not only that, but we must also grow in involvement from the membership.
Acts 6 is a pivotal point in this book. We are about to meet Stephen and Philip. These two men, God used to take the church to the next level.
Up until chapter 6, Luke has centered our attention on the apostles and their ministry. Now we begin to see how they extended their reach through passing on responsibility to other qualified workers. The church has outgrown the capacity of its leaders. What should they do?