For hope in Christ’s resurrection, Christians proclaim the gospel. The faithful rescue people from the fire. They know that if they do not gather then they scatter. Because of Jesus Christ, the faithful believe that the mission of 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. 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. 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).
God promises to give increase when the gospel is spread and church leadership builds upon Christ (1 Cor 3:6–8; Eph 4:15–16). Churches that grow enact these actions the Scriptures:
- 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 to receive eternal life in the resurrection (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 proclaiming Jesus’s resurrection, the church grew must focusing upon each of its five ministries: evangelism, discipleship, 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 repentant people changing because Jesus rose from the dead. Their faith was evident to all.
- Evangelism: Christians proclaimed a reasonable view of God and the resurrection of Jesus Christ (Acts 17:22–31; 1 Cor 15:1–11). The first disciples shared Christ by inviting others to hear the gospel of Christ or taught them personally (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, fairs, and market fronts.
- Discipleship: Jesus’s disciples followed Him, learned all that He taught, and were made into fishers of men (Matt 4:19; Mark 1:17). Churches must implement the best way to train their members in the Scriptures. Likewise, the church needs leaders who disciple their members (Eph 4:11–16). 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 must grow by multiplying rather than enlarging.
- Assembly: Churches that are growing meet together in assemblies as the churches did in the Bible. The assembly is when the church gathered as a whole (1 Cor 14:23). The church assembled where visitors were welcomed to become disciples (1 Cor 14:16, 23–25; cf. Jas 2). The New Testament churches partook of the Lord’s Supper first (1 Cor 11:17–34). They received edifying teaching, praised God in spirit and truth, and stirred one another to love and good works (1 Cor 14:3–6; Heb 2:12; 10:24–25). 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 as a congregation where they spoke to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (Eph 5:19; Col 3:16). The churches gathered a collection on that first day of the week to relieve saints and spread the gospel (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; 4:32–35). 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). The elders are the pastors who along with evangelists and teachers equip the church for good works in ministry, build up the church for unity, and keep the church from 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 expresses their love by caring for those in need (1 John 3:16–18). In the beginning of the church, people saw the service of the church to those who in need so that they had favor with all the people (Acts 2:44–47). By faith and hope in the resurrection, the church must remain steadfast, immovable, and abounding in the work of the Lord (1 Cor 15:58).