From my perspective, 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.
Actions of Growing Churches
Growing together in God’s Word helped churches to grow from the beginning and does so today. From my reading, churches must do at least six essential actions for which God gives them growth:
1. The first disciples focused on evangelizing the lost (Matt 28:19–20; Acts 2).
2. The first church grew because its members were devoted to the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, communion, and prayers (Acts 2:42).
3. Growing churches speak the truth together to grow in Christ (Eph 4:15).
4. Churches grow where the body is joined and equipped so that every part works together (Eph 4:16).
5. Growing churches have exemplar leadership to equip and build the church (Eph 4:11–12).
6. Healthy growing churches build 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 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 praying together. Christian gatherings for studies and devotions after the assembly can immediately increase followup with visitors.
Initiating and encouraging a church to change is a whole other matter. You will need partners to support openly the fellowship of Christians in God’s Word.