Summary: Church Growth is the Supernatual Work of the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit and Church Revitalization
Dr. Ray W. Ellis
The work of the Holy Spirit is vital to the revitalization of a local church. The entire process of revitalization is based on seeking spiritual health prayer and the energizing work of the Holy Spirit. Without the presence of the Holy Spirit at work in the life and ministry of a local church all efforts are in vain. A local church may experience numerical gains in attendance, but without the ministry of the Holy Spirit the church will not experience redemptive, Kingdom of God growth.
The work of the Holy Spirit in revitalization can be compared to the human body. A person can live and breathe without arms and legs. A local church is an organism a part of the Body of Christ. A local congregation can love the Lord but not make an impact for the Kingdom. Church growth, New Testament principles give the local church arms and legs — purpose and direction to make a significant impact for the Kingdom of God. Without the blessing and energy of the Holy Spirit a local church is merely like a secular organization that experiences sociological growth.
Vision from God. Spiritual renewal begins with a vision from God. We get our vision as we take time to fast and prayer. Nehemiah is an example of a leader who was filled with passion and empower by the Holy Spirit to bring about a renewal of leaders in Jerusalem. Before Nehemiah traveled to Jerusalem he “sat down and wept. For some days he mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.” Nehemiah 1:4
The Apostle John was in the Spirit, praying and meditating as an exile on the Island of Patmos when the Lord gave him insight on the seven churches in Revelation chapters 2-3. The work of leading local congregations toward renewal is primarily the work of the Holy Spirit and secondarily the work of intervention, inspiration and information. I like what the authors of the book, Marketing for Congregations - Choosing to Serve People More Effectively say: “The best marketing plan in the world cannot compensate for spiritual lethargy or confusion, so that none are able to listen in the silent closets of the heart where God awaits to communicate with us. Nor can a marketing plan counterbalance a lack of vision.” (Page 380)
Climate for Growth. A businessman purchased a tropical plant. He put the plant in his office and did every thing he knew to keep the plant healthy. He gave it water, plant food, sunshine and lots of tender loving care. After two weeks the plant was turning brown and dying. He called the Florist and asked if the plant had a guarantee because the plant was dying. The Florist asked how he was caring for the plant. He said he was giving it water, plant food and sunshine. The Florist asked: “Are you misting the plant?” “What do you mean, misting the plant?” The Florist replied, “The plant you purchased is a tropical plant and it needs high humidity. Take a spray bottle and spray mist on the plant for a week or two.” After two weeks of spraying the plant it turned green and was revitalized.
Without a proper climate in the local church you can do everything right and not experience health and vitality. God cannot bless a toxic church climate. A proper climate for growth is the work of the Holy Spirit in response to the leaders in the church practicing and modeling Biblical qualities.
Unhealthy churches are filled with conflicts, spiritual carnality, leaders who are more interested in control than allowing the Holy Spirit to lead. The focus of toxic churches is inward. They are ingrown, lack vision, lack passion for souls, are comfortable, apathetic and satisfied to play church.
Unhealthy churches are characterized by five deadly diseases.
1. Toleration of known sin — gossip, carnality, and critical spirit. Healthy churches practice the Biblical principles found in Matthew 18:15-17.
b. Lack of desire to grow. Healthy churches have a compelling passion for Kingdom growth and recommitted to carrying out the Great Commission of Matthew 28:19-20.
c. Lack of commitment to pray. Healthy churches not only talk about prayer they pray with a deep passion for lost people who need Jesus.
d. Overly organized for the size of church. Healthy churches have a simple organization with a focus on having time for ministry and not attending more meetings.
Characteristics found in the Seven Church in Revelation cause a local congregation to be sick:
· The church in Ephesus left her first love for Christ and Christ’s love for the lost. A prime characteristic of a sick church is one that has no passion for the lost.