Church Growth in Churches of Christ

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 studied, prayed, and served others together. They focused on growing together to make disciples and multiply. The model for growth is in the example of Jesus and His disciples.

Actions of Growing Churches

Healthy growing churches are united in the mission of making disciples. According to the Scriptures, churches 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 thrive by sharing God’s Word with one another, working from love for Christ, and upholding truth in the face of error. 

God promises to give the increase (1 Cor 3:6–8; Eph 4:15–16). From my reading, churches must reenact these actions for which God gives growth:

  1. 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).
  2. The first church started and spread by proclaiming the gospel of Jesus’s resurrection with evidence (Acts 2:14–36; 13:16–41; 1 Cor 15:1–11). 
  3. The apostles knew how to make disciples and multiplied by spreading the word of God (Acts 2:41; Acts 6:7; 9:31; 12:24). God gives the increase and healthy churches grow by building skillfully on Jesus as the foundation (1 Cor 3:6–15).
  4. The first church grew as they were devoted to the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, communion, and prayers, and that influenced their community gaining favor with all the people (Acts 2:42–47).
  5. The first churches met together in accessible locations 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 road, and on mountain sides.
  6. Growing churches have exemplar leadership to equip, build, and unite the church to reach maturity in Christ (Eph 4:11–13).
  7. 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). 

Discussion

How did the first church grow? If churches do one thing to grow, they must increase their devotion and that will influence the community. By finding favor with people, they can share the gospel. By sharing the gospel, they may make disciples who make disciples (Acts 2:42–47; cf. Matt 5:16).

Will churches grow who do the same things that most other churches do? Will churches grow by not increasing their devotion and influencing the community? Will churches grow who imitate the other churches who are not making and multiplying disciples?

Christian devotion with gladness and sincerity of heart gained the favor of their community (Acts 2:42–47). Today, church leaders can put too much on the congregation instead of encouraging the natural devotion to the apostles’ doctrine, fellowship, the breaking of bread, and prayer.

How can leaders help restore the devotion of the church? Church leaders can set Bible studies that Christians want to devote themselves. Elders and church leaders need to train disciples to teach and talk about their faith. Elders and leaders can start by sharing the gospel with the members of the congregation again. The church leaders can make changes to fellowship in God’s Word so that the church wants to devote themselves again.  Instead of a few meeting in class before assembly, Christians can gather for classes, studies, and devotions after the assembly and increase immediate followup with guests. Focusing on discipling children after the assembly increases the congregation’s life and shifts their mission to making disciples of their youth. Christians do not need so many studies that they cannot remember what was taught the previous week, but rather teachers can reinforce previous sermons through fellowship and prayer together.