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 discipling groups — groups that study, pray, and serve to together. Do not think of a large Bible class, but more like classes that meet in groups from 4–12 disciples. These groups focus on growing together to make disciples and multiply groups. They also assemble to edify and worship together (Acts 20:7).
Actions of Growing Churches
Growing together in God’s Word helped churches to grow from the beginning and does so today. Churches in the Bible die for a lack togetherness and sharing God’s Word with one another, a lack of works from a lack of love, and compromising the truth for immorality (Rev 2–3). In the Scriptures, sound healthy churches live by sharing God’s Word with one another, working from love for Christ, and upholding truth in the face of error. Healthy growing churches are united in making disciples.
God promises to give the increase (1 Cor 3:6–8; Eph 4:15–16). From my reading, churches must do at least six essential actions for which God gives them growth:
1. The first disciples devoted themselves to the mission making disciples who make disciples and multiplied through God’s Word (Matt 28:19–20; Acts 2; Acts 6:7; 9:31; 12:24).
2. Jesus and the apostles made disciples through groups of disciples (Matt 4:18–22; Luke 9–10).
3. The first church grew because its members were devoted to the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, communion, and prayers (Acts 2:42–47).
4. Growing churches have exemplar leadership to equip, build, and unite the church to reach maturity in Christ (Eph 4:11–13).
5. Churches grow where the body speaks the truth in love, joined in Christ, and equipped so that every part works together (Eph 4:15–16).
6. God gives the increase and healthy churches grow by building on Christ and no other foundation (1 Cor 3:6–15).
How did the first church grow? They grew together. Luke reported, “So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:41–42 ESV). If you do one thing to grow, remember this devotion and model this scripture to share that devotion to God’s word and fellowship in the church.
Christians grow and churches grow by sharing God’s word together so that others want the same. This is why Bible studies, prayer, and fellowship together are so vital (Acts 2:42–47; 5:42; 6:7; 10; 12:12; 20:20). Dying churches would rather stand in the lobby, program events, repair the building, and even complain, and they do this to avoid study and discussion of the Bible with other Christians and their lost neighbors. Churches need meetings filled with biblical discussion and prayer together. Christian gatherings for studies and devotions after the assembly and midweek can immediately increase followup with guests. Studying sermons in group studies offers unity on midweek studies. Focusing on discipling children after assembly will increase the congregation’s life and shift their mission to the Great Commission.
Initiating and encouraging a church to change is a whole other matter. Start with a simple Bible study. Turn Bible studies into a gathering of discipling groups. Focus on making disciples like Jesus did (Matt 4:19; 28:19–20; cf. 2 Tim 2:2). Encourage brethren who are influential to share and lead the fellowship to make disciples.