For hope in Christ’s resurrection, Christians proclaim the gospel. The faithful rescue the trapped 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 will 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 their love for Christ, and upholding truth in the face of error. According to the Scriptures, churches die for a lack of unity, of sharing the gospel, of works from a lack of love, and by compromising the truth for immorality (Rev 2–3).
God promises to give an 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 from 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 witnessed 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 and 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.
- 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 by focusing on each of its five ministries: evangelism, discipleship, assembly, fellowship, and service. God gives the increase and faithful churches grow by building skillfully on Jesus as the foundation (1 Cor 3:6–15).
- Evangelism: In the Bible, 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, 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 need to find a platform to preach the gospel.
- 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 by the Scriptures. The church needs leaders who disciple their members (Eph 4:11–16). The apostles knew how to make disciples and they multiplied disciples by training others in the word of God (Acts 2:41; 6:7; 9:31; 12:24). Today, Christians must emphasize training the next generation of young disciples by telling all that Christ commanded. Today, Bible studies must grow by multiplying students.
- 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 biblical organization of the assembly is essential to growth. The church assembled where visitors were welcomed to become disciples (1 Cor 14:16, 23–25; cf. Jas 2). The church assembled and acted in a specific way that edified disciples and worshiped God. New Testament churches partook of the Lord’s Supper first in the assembly (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).
- Fellowship: As a 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 spend their lives together. The eary Christians confessed their sins and prayed together (Jas 5:16). They gathered to pray in times of need (Acts 12:12). This fellowship allows Christians to connect with one another and those outside the church. The first churches relief on a leadership that consisted of elders (1 Tim 3:1–7). Church 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). The church must act as a community in fellowship with one another and welcoming others.
- 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 in need so that they had favor with all the people (Acts 2:44–47). By faith and hope in the resurrection, the church remained steadfast, immovable, and abounding in the work of the Lord (1 Cor 15:58). The disciples of Christ must always remain a light to the world (Matt 5:14–16).