Summary: Marks of a growing church
Ready, Set, Grow!
Woodlawn Baptist Church
September 12, 2004
(This message was taken from Dr. Paul Powell’s book "The Nuts & Bolts of Church Growth" and personalized to fit our congregation)
Today I want to take a quick break from our series in Esther and spend the day, both this morning and tonight, speaking on the subject of church growth and evangelism. The thoughts I want to share with you are not original with me. In fact, they are as old as the Lord’s churches are, and as you will see, the things I am going to share with you concerning church growth are not new-fangled marketing strategies, but time-proven, God-pleasing principles straight from His Word that, regardless of the age in which they are practiced, will prove to enable a church to grow both in spirit and in number.
Turn with me in your Bibles to Acts 2:41-47, and let’s read the account of the growth of the Jerusalem church on the day of Pentecost.
“Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.”
What makes a church grow? What is it that separates those churches that are vibrant and growing from those that are not? There is of course, no one answer to the question. One of the most common myths that I hear about church growth that really bothers me to hear people say is that if a church is growing, they must also be compromising the Word of God. Certainly there are churches which do such things, but for anyone to say such a thing is either misinformed or is only trying to justify the fact that his or her own church is not growing. Not all churches that are growing are doing anything wrong – it may be that they are doing what they do right.
What makes a church grow? Is it location? Certainly location is a factor, but we can drive around this afternoon and see in the same neighborhood churches that are growing and others that are not. It has been said that location is like talent. John Wooden, the legendary basketball coach from UCLA once said, “Nobody can win without talent. But not everyone can win with talent.” Our men’s Olympic basketball team this year was a good example. Location is important, but not all churches with a great location are growing.
Rather than trying to pick out the things that are not important, let me give you six marks of a growing church. You write these down, and then I want you to take an inward look today to see whether you as a member of this church are contributing to the health of our body by making these marks a central part of all we do. So what are they? What are the six marks of a growing church?
A Sweet Spirit
Of all the things I am going to share with you today, the single most important factor in church growth, humanly speaking, is the spirit of our people. There exists in our church a great spirit of love, joy, friendliness, and lately a spirit of excitement.
I believe that you love the Lord and this church. I know that you are proud of it, loyal to it, and happy to be here. Many of you honestly believe that this is the greatest church in town. There are those among you who believe that we can and will do anything that we set out to do by the Lord’s leading. And do you know what? I think that you are right.
Listen, you can have a preacher with walls of degrees, a large budget to work with, pretty facilities, and on and on you could go, but if a church is cold and indifferent, people will not want to come; and if they do, they usually will not come back. Many of you have said that you like a small church and the small church atmosphere. I do too! And no matter how much we grow, we can maintain that small church atmosphere if we will work at it and simply be a people who love one another. We need to go out of our way to make people feel welcome, like we care about them. Every guest of our church needs to feel loved and accepted, no matter how different they may be. We live in a cold world, and people are drawn by the warmth of Christian love.