Real Church Growth is the Fruit of the Lips
Many believe that numbers indicate growth when it comes to the church but numerical prowess is never a consideration biblically when God speaks about our success. We never read passages that say, “And the Lord was pleased that their Sunday morning classes were twenty-five percent bigger than the previous quarter. And all of Galilee rejoiced and the people were glad for their goals had been complete.”
Yet, this is exactly the attitude of much of the church today – We are successful if we have lots of people in attendance. It seems that popularity is a virtue and the narrow gate is miles wide. Growth is mainly seen only statistically and is registered by head counts and figures. However, is this the real measure of a church’s growth or have we become accustomed to a statistician’s lie. When was the last time you heard this sort of exchange?
“How goes it?”
“Good, and you?”
“Great, we had several people give public testimony to the power of God in their lives as they are seeing much more of their own weakness and sin and confessing it…”
[insert stunned and confused look here]
“Confessing sin? during service?”
“Yes it was great… and many others have voiced their joy in overcoming anger and bitterness in their lives …free now to be a greater witness to the gospel as a result. We are really growing as a church! And your fellowship?”
[insert continued stunned and confused look here]
“Uh… we had about a hundred in our evening service and the praise band was rocking. Umm… what did you say…people did what?”
Fidelity to the truth of His Word is our anchoring principle in the church as we practice our faith communally. And God constantly exhorts us in Scripture to move forward in our walk and confess our sins one to another as we are conforming to the image of His Son in incremental Christ-likeness. I’ve always loved testimonies for this very reason.
“Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.” Hebrews 11:15
Nothing is better than hearing about the transforming power of God in a believer’s life and not just at the moment of conversion, but also when it comes to our progressive life of sanctification where we find ourselves changing internally – as we lay aside our old ways and habits and adopt “new man: living. This is real church growth when God’s people learn how to love and love more abundantly.
While there is nothing wrong with great increases in numbers – gauging our growth by adding up how many bodies show up each week has more to do with a marketing mentality than it does with the cause of Christ. We would do well to remember the praises of the apostle Paul as he wrote to the Thessalonians commending them for their work of faith, labor of love, and steadfast hope in the Lord Jesus. Seeing our brothers and sisters in Christ possess the fruit of the Spirit and watching it increase in their lives as they give testimony and praise to our Father is a great joy!
“We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers; constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father, knowing, brethren beloved by God, His choice of you; for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.” – 1 Thessalonians 1:2-5
This Sunday in our service we had an extra thirty-five minutes added to our service merely because we had that much testimony to the greatness of God in the renewal of His people. We were truly excited and blessed. What an encouragement to hear of His mighty work among the saints! And no one but Him gets the glory for divine transformation in our hearts.
Give room in your services to testimony time. Let your people publicly rejoice and be glad in their God as they testify to redeemed living. Edification is good medicine.