Congregational Growth

When a local congregation of the Lord’s people grows, hopefully all are thrilled about it. Growth that is based on bringing others into the fellowship of a local church need to be an ongoing thing. Of course, the methods used to “bring them in” is important. Paul told the Corinthians he had laid the only foundation on which the church is built, but warned, “If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work” (1 Cor. 3:12-13)..

God’s people must grow by scriptural methods, else growth is valueless. To grow by scriptural means means nothing may be offered except the plain and simple Gospel of Jesus Christ and pattern the Lord has given in his divine instruction and apostolic precedent. Our work and worship is unquestionably sound and scriptural when we recognize and honor the teaching of Christ and his apostles as our pattern in all things. We mustl “build all things according to the pattern” (Heb. 8:5).

Sometimes, after a period of growth, there is a tendency to let down and enjoy a “status quo.” This is a mistake. Nothing should stand in the way of a continued work of faith and labor of love. Keep the spirit alive that caused growth. Don’t let it flag or die.

When little things become big things, when minor issues are elevated to major issues, the spirit of working together will suffer. I have known congregations that after a period of growth such as ours who became less and less interested in an outward reach and turned inward. Things sometimes get to the point that some are more concerned about the inward activities of the church than they are the great battle we face from without.

This is not said to minimize internal purity and soundness. It is just an observation that when unnecessary criticism and a “watch dog” attitude develops internally over personalities and minor issues, growth will certainly be impeded. So, then let us put insignificant things away from us, learn to tolerate and love one another as brethren and do what Paul wanted the Philippians to do.

“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ-to the glory and praise of God” (Phil 1:9-11).

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