Summary: God wants His church to be fruitful. He wants and expects growth, both spiritual growth and numerical growth. If we are to be obedient to our commission from Christ we must grow. Let’s look at what it takes to grow a church.

toHow to Grow a Church

Matthew 16:13-19

Introduction: God wants His church to be fruitful. He wants and expects growth, both spiritual growth and numerical growth. But the sad reality is that that according to one survey 81% of America’s churches reported stagnant or declining membership. Actual annual church growth in America was on average, less than 2 new members for every 5 churches. If we are to be obedient to our commission from Christ we must grow. Let’s look at what it takes to grow a church.

I. Growth requires the Lord to build.

A. Matthew 16:18 “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.”

B. Psalm 127:1 “Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the LORD guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.”

C. Charles Haddon Spurgeon, known as "the prince of preachers," felt he delivered his sermon so poorly one Sunday that he was ashamed of himself. As he walked away from his church, the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London, he wondered how any good could come from that message. When he arrived home, he dropped to his knees and prayed, "Lord God, You can do something with nothing. Bless that poor sermon."

In the months that followed, 41 people said that they had decided to trust Christ as Saviour because of that "weak" message. The following Sunday, to make up for his previous "failure," Spurgeon had prepared a "great" sermon -- but no one responded. Spurgeon's experience underscores two important lessons for all who serve the Lord. First and foremost, we need the blessing of God on our efforts. Solomon said in Psalm 127:1, "Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it." And second, our weakness is an occasion for the working of God's power. The apostle Paul said, "I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Cor. 12:10). – taken from Our Daily Bread, May 18, 1992.

II. Growth requires prayer

A. Matthew 17:19-21 “Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, "Why could we not cast it out?" So Jesus said to them, "Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting."

B. Prayer is an unspoken confession of our utter dependence upon God. Prayerlessness is an unbroken testimony of our dependence on the flesh. – Randy Sprinkle, International Mission Board prayer coordinator

C. A little boy was tugging on a big rock, and doing his best to lift it. He was grunting and pulling but it wouldn't budge. His father came along and asked him if he was having any trouble. He said, "Yes, I am trying and trying, but I can't move this rock." The father said to him, "Well son, are you using all available energy?" The boy replied, "Yes father, I think I am." Then his dad looked at him and said, "No, son, I don't think you are, for you haven't asked for my help." - copied

D. Matthew 7:7-8 " Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”

E. The practice of prayer is required for spiritual growth individually and corporately. It is required for numerical growth as a church. The First Church of Jerusalem continued steadfastly to learning the apostles’ doctrine, to fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer; and the Lord added to the church daily.

F. A survey was done about 20 years ago to try to determine what makes churches thrive and grow. That survey found that 71% of so-called "breakout churches" (formerly plateaued or declining churches now growing) report an increased emphasis on prayer in the past several years. Another survey taken about the same time by a completely different group found the same thing to be true: among rapidly growing churches, prayer was consistently pointed out as the "foundational ministry of the church." - C. Kirk Hadaway, Church Growth Principles, Broadman 1991, p. 164

G. Philippians 4:6 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God”

H. Live churches move ahead on prayer and faith; Dead churches work only on sight!

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