Sunday, June 13, 2021

How to grow the Church. . .

Churches are in tough shape, to be sure.  No one here has any room to gloat or boast.  We have all done an abysmal job of faithfully carrying out the Lord's will and purpose.  That said, none of us should take comfort from the fact that all of us are struggling and none of us is doing very well. 

The truth is that the churches are not only wringing their hands over this situation.  They are trying all kinds of things to reverse the decline.  They have transformed the doctrine and practice of the faith to meet the ever changing mood of the world around us.  They have used every manner of technology to introduce themselves, address the world with a welcoming face, and provided comment on just about everything.  They have restructured worship to provide services for every preference of time, music, form, and content.  There is not much that has not been tried in the name of growing God's Church.

It is easy to forget in the face of so much change and possibility that the keys to growing the Church are not all that unusual or extraordinary.  In fact, they are relatively common and every period of the Church's growth have been marked by the same things.  Th Church as grown or not lost members largely by the growth and stability of the family and the faithfulness of the preaching and teaching.  So if our members are having children, doing a decent job of raising their children in the faith, working to retain those who were baptized and raised in the faith, and winning converts from among their friends and contacts, the Church will grow or at least will not decline.  By the way, the key to winning converts is not discarding the faith of our fathers but an evangelistic continuity built upon doctrine and practice the are faithful and remain faithful.

Some may chuckle now that I am suggesting having children and raising them in the faith is so important.  The statistics show that Christians are not having many children and not doing a great job of raising them in the faith.  How can this not contribute to our decline or at least our stagnation?  Church going parents raising church growing children is always going to be an integral part of the growth of the Church.  It has been since Jesus told them to let the children come to Him, do not prevent them, and blessed them.  Why do some find this funny or odd?

Strong families reaching out to other families is also key.  Pastors contribute little toward outreach (except to make sure that there is a faithful church for people to live in and be attracted to).  Christians have always brought their friends, their children's friends, co-workers, and neighbors to the Church with them on Sunday morning.  It should not be surprising to admit that families reaching out to unchurched families is important to the growth and stability of the Church.

The other part of this is the work of the Holy Spirit.  Sometimes, as in Acts on Pentecost, the results are immediate and easy to see.  Other times they are slow and more hidden.  But the Holy Spirit has promised to work through the preaching and teaching of the Church and who are we to question when and where the Spirit is working.  This part is an object of faith and trust on our part.  The Word will not return empty but will accomplish His purpose in sending it.  

Evangelism is not rocket science.  We are not boldly to go where no one has gone before but more to walk in the footsteps of the faithful who went before  us.  Sometimes we need to be reminded of this.

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