Wolves devour the flock. Sexual impurity and falsehoods defile God’s holy church. Congregations are losing the light of their lamps. However, the faithful rescue people from the fire. They know that if they do not gather then they scatter. For hope in Christ’s resurrection, Christians proclaim the Gospel.
Because of Jesus Christ, we believe that Christians are to be disciples who make disciples who also make disciples (Matt 28:19–20). Disciples who make disciples and multiply do so like Jesus and the apostles in training leaders who study, pray, and serve together. The model for growth is in the example of Jesus and His disciples, and that model is active among churches of Christ today. The following consists of scriptures exemplifying biblical actions of churches that grow.
Actions of Growing Churches
Faithful growing churches are united in the mission to make disciples. According to the Scriptures, churches die for a lack togetherness, not sharing the gospel, a lack of works from a lack of love, and compromising the truth for immorality (Rev 2–3). In the Scriptures, sound healthy churches thrive by sharing God’s Word with one another and others, working from love for Christ, and upholding truth in the face of error.
God promises to give increase (1 Cor 3:6–8; Eph 4:15–16). To this student of Scripture, churches reenact these actions for which God gives growth:
- The Mission: Jesus made disciples and trained leaders who made disciples (Luke 6:13; Acts 20:3–4; 2 Tim 2:2). The first disciples devoted themselves to the mission of making disciples who make disciples (Matt 28:19–20; 2 Tim 2:2; cf. Eph 3:8–12; 1 Pet 2:9). Today, churches must accept and focus on fulfilling this mission.
- The Gospel: The church began because various people experienced Jesus resurrected from the dead. Lives changed and this opened doors for evangelism. The first church started and spread by proclaiming the gospel of Jesus’s resurrection with its evidence of predictive scriptures, the empty tomb, and various witnesses of Jesus’s resurrection. Jesus’s resurrection is the beginning cause for the saved receive eternal life by resurrecting too (Acts 2:14–36; 13:16–41; 1 Cor 15:1–11). Today, churches must return to doing the same and not subtract the power of the gospel by getting distracted with teaching other things first.
- Ministries: The first church grew as they were devoted to the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, the breaking of bread, and prayers, and that influenced their community having gained favor with all the people (Acts 2:42–47; cf. Matt 5:16). From Jesus’s resurrection, the church grew must focusing upon each of its five ministries: discipleship, evangelism, assembly, community, and service. God gives the increase and faithful churches grow by building skillfully on Jesus as the foundation (1 Cor 3:6–15). The church began with imperfect and yet humble people changing because Jesus rose from the dead. Their faith was evident to all.
- Discipleship: The apostles knew how to make disciples and multiplied disciples by spreading the word of God by gathering together (Acts 2:41; 6:7; 9:31; 12:24). The church grew from the beginning by connecting with people immediately. Today, Bible studies can grow by multiplying rather than enlarging. These gatherings allow more Christians to talk about their faith together and become more vocal around all people. The first Christians extended their growing in faith beyond Bible the assembly, so they ate together and grew together in God’s Word.
- Evangelism: The first disciples shared Christ by inviting others to hear the gospel of Christ or teaching themselves (John 1:35–51; Acts 8:3). The first churches met together and proclaimed the gospel where people could listen publicly in the temple portico, a synagogue, or a school, and from house to house (Acts 5:42; 20:20; Rom 16:5; 1 Cor 16:19). Jesus taught in houses, in synagogues, in fields, on the road, and on mountain sides. Today, churches may need to move from their buildings to other places even to schools and market fronts.
- Assembly: Churches that are growing gather in assemblies resembling the churches in the Bible, The assembly is where people experience edifying teaching, praising God in spirit and truth, and stir one another to love and good works (1 Cor 14:3–6; Heb 2:12; 10:24–25). The New Testament churches partook of the Lord’s Supper first (1 Cor 11:17–34). Their assemblies consisted two or three speakers, two or three led singing, and two or three led prayers (1 Cor 14:26–33). The first churches sang in a gathering where they could speak to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (Eph 5:19; Col 3:16). The churches also gathered a collection on that first day of the week (1 Cor 16:1–3).
- Community: In the community, Christians share their lives together. Christians care for one another so that no one goes without a need (Acts 2:44–46). Christians confess their sins and pray together (Jas 5:16). They gathered to pray in times of need (Acts 12:12). The congregation is a community with leadership including elders (1 Tim 3:1–7). These elders pastor along with evangelists and teachers equipping the church for good works in ministry, building up the church for unity, and keeping the church from temptations and false teachings (Eph 4:11–14).
- Service: The church serves as each member does their part using their gifts (Rom 12:3–8; Eph 4:15–16). The church shows their love by caring for those in need (1 John 3:16–18). The church is steadfast, immovable, and abounding in the work of the Lord (1 Cor 15:58).