Many churches desire to grow. They want to improve their efforts to reach out to their community with the gospel. They also want to increase their attendance on Sunday morning.
These desires are admirable. What is less admirable is how churches try to accomplish them. When we talk about becoming more appealing to unbelievers, what we usually mean is updating our building or undertaking a new marketing campaign.
A Harmful Trend
Many pastors trust advertising and remodeling to grow their church. They want to update the signs or renovate the lobby. Or they want to mail out flyers and pass out invite cards.
Here’s the thing: most first-world churches want to improve their building, but most of them are stagnant or dying. Most churches in nations that are hostile to the gospel are alive and growing, but their buildings are being destroyed.
This doesn’t mean you must destroy your building in order to grow. It just means your building won’t grow your church. Instead of relying on nicer facilities or slick marketing, increase your reliance on the Holy Spirit.
Not So Secret to Church Growth
Your church won’t grow because you update your building. Nor will it grow because you catch their eye with flashy advertising. Rather, your church will grow as the church has always grown – through prayer and evangelism.
This is how the early church grew. The book of Acts makes several statements about its explosive growth:
- “The Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” (2:47).
- “More and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number” (5:14).
- “The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly” (6:7).
- “[The church] increased in numbers” (9:31).
- “A great number of people were brought to the Lord” (11:24).
And that’s just the first eleven chapters! How did the original Christians do it? What was their secret?
Their secret is actually not so secret. The church grew by depending on the Holy Spirit’s power through prayer and evangelism. Acts gives us several glimpses of this:
- “They all joined together constantly in prayer” (1:14).
- “After they prayed…they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly” (4:31).
- “They never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah” (5:42).
- “Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went” (8:4).
The list could go on and on. The point is clear – the early church grew because it depended on the Spirit’s power.
The same is true of the persecuted church today. Those suffering saints are having everything taken away from them. But their numbers continue to grow. How? They rely not on equity or advertising, but the Spirit’s power.
The book of Acts reminds us that we don’t grow our church. Rather, God grows His church. So what are you trusting? Do you trust prayer or marketing? Do you trust evangelism or advertising? Do you trust the gospel or salesmanship?
Most importantly, do you trust God’s ability to grow the church or your own?
How can we express our reliance on the Holy Spirit to grow our churches? Leave your thoughts with a comment below!
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