Summary: We all want our churches to grow, but do we understand the growing pains that go along with the process?
The Pain of Growth
You ever have growing pains? If you didn’t you probably know someone who did, maybe your own kids. You know when you were around 8 or 9 you’d wake up with your legs aching.
Growing pains are kind of a generic diagnosis that covers a variety of aches and pains when you are that age. And it’s not actually bone pain, you know from the bones growing it’s actually a muscular pain.
This is interesting, one source wrote “One symptom that doctors find most helpful in making a diagnosis of growing pains is how a child responds to touch while in pain. Kids who have pain from a serious medical cause don't like to be handled because movement can make the pain worse. But those with growing pains respond differently — they feel better when they're held, massaged, and cuddled.”
The scripture that was read this morning detailed some of growing pains that that the early church went through.
This is week 3 of our series on church growth. In week one Stefan looked at “Why We Grow” and highlighted three reasons, 1) Because Jesus Commands it 2) Because the Bible Illustrates it 3) Because Reality Demands it.
Last week I looked at “How We Grow” and we focused on how the church and the pastor need to be prepared in order for growth to happen
In both weeks we looked at the incredible rate of growth that happened in the church in those first few months. Literally thousands of people were coming to know Jesus, were being baptized and living in community.
Sometimes you will hear people wish that their church was more like the New Testament Church or you’ll hear the pastor of a brand new church say that their church is going to be a New Testament Church. But in the midst of all of the celebration of new life and church growth we stumble across the scripture that was read for us earlier, in particular Acts 6:1 But as the believers rapidly multiplied, there were rumblings of discontent.
Rumblings of discontent? In the New Testament Church? That doesn’t seem right at all, I mean this is just months after the Holy Spirit had come and the church had been born. Rumblings of discontent?
And the reason for the discontent, the reason the church changed and didn’t remain the church that was described in Acts 2 wasn’t because of sin, or pride or the devil. It was because of people. People who saw things from different perspectives, people who had different life experiences, not better or worse life experiences, just different.
Even if there had never been another person added to the group the people themselves would have changed and that would have changed the church.
We all change, that’s a given. As we grow most of us will change. My world view, my church view and my political views have all changed through the years. Some would say they have evolved; others would say they have de-evolved but regardless they have changed.
When Cornerstone was in its infancy a gentleman by the name of Marlin Mull told me that there are two types of people in every church, “The goers and the whoaers”. And I’ve met both types, you know what he meant, those who when you talked about new things and changes they were willing to say “let’s go”. Today we call them early adopters.
And there are others’ and they brace their feet and say “Whoa, not on my watch”.
And the goers and the whoaers were there two thousand years ago as well. There were those who celebrated the growth of the church and those who grumbled about how things had changed.
I love the story about the old guy who was being interviewed and he was asked “In your hundred and two years you’ve must have seen a lot of changes?” to which he replied, “Yep, and I was against them all.”
For the rest of our time this morning we’re going to look at Church Growing Pains.
Let’s be honest with each other and acknowledge that this church cannot and will not grow without there being some pain.
Through the years I have talked to pastors from growing churches and it doesn’t matter if their church was a city church or a country church they all had the same tale.
Now in the beginning everyone was gung ho for growth, I mean who wouldn’t be? How could you be against church growth? That would be wrong on so many levels. But as the church began to grow some people began to hesitate and baulk and some even left the church to find one they would be more comfortable in.
And the pastors all agreed that those who were opposed weren’t bad people in most cases they were good people even godly people but people who weren’t willing to pay the price.