OUR CHURCH CAN GROW

 

INTRODUCTION:

 

1.      This morning, and the next several Sunday mornings, I am going to talk about church growth.

 

2.      How many of you would like to see this church grow to bigger and greater heights?

 

3.      I believe with all of my heart that this church is going to blossom like it has never blossomed before.  It is not going to blossom because of me; it is going to blossom because of God and because of all of us.  If we all work together, with God on our side, there is no telling what we can accomplish.  Amen!

 

4.      From my ministry experience, and after reading some of the best church growth books on the market, I have concluded that church growth does not just happen. It is a well-thought out strategy.

 

5.      If we want our church to grow, I feel that we must do three things:

 

a.       Pray for it!

 

b.      Plan for it!

 

c.       Work hard for it!

 

OVER THE NEXT FEW SUNDAY MORNINGS, I WILL SHARE WITH YOU SEVERAL CHURCH GROWTH PRINCIPLES THAT CAN HELP US GROW TO BIGGER AND GREATER HEIGHTS.

 

I.                                FIRST, TO EXPERIENCE CHURCH GROWTH, WE MUST RELY UPON THE POWER OF GOD.

 

1.       In (Mk. 16:15), Jesus told His followers to “go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.  When Jesus issued this task, there were only 11 apostles and a relatively small number of disciples.

 

2.       However, we read that on the day that the church was established, on the Day of Pentecost in Jerusalem,  3,000 people were baptized (Acts 2:41).

 

3.       By the time of (Acts 4:4), the congregation in Jerusalem had grown to the point that there were 5,000 men in that one congregation. 

 

4.       In (Acts 5:14), the Bible says that “more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number.

 

5.       All in all, the Jerusalem congregation, according to the estimates of various scholars, had a membership of between 50,000 and 100,000 members.

 

6.       How did the early church grow so rapidly?

 

 

7.       Who added people to the church?  God.  It was God who ultimately helped the Church to grow!  He is the one who makes things grow!

 

 

8.       If we want our church to grow, then we must rely upon God for growth and not our own human strength.

 

9.       We need to spend hours in prayer asking God to help us grow.

 

II.                              SECOND, TO EXPERIENCE CHURCH GROWTH, WE MUST HAVE A CHURCH VISION AND WORK HARD TO FULFILL IT. 

 

§         “Where there is no vision, the people perish...”(Proverbs 29:18).

 

1.      What is a church vision?

 

a.       A church vision is an attempt to articulate, as clearly and vividly as possible, the reason why we exist as a Church. 

 

b.      When people walk into our doors, we would like for them to know who we are, why we are here, and what we can do for them.

 

I WOULD LIKE TO PROPOSE FOR OUR CHURCH TO HAVE THE SAME VISION THAT JESUS HAD FOR HIS CHURCH.

 

GREAT COMMISSION VISION:

 

 

 

 

a.      The three components of this vision statement are:

 

(1)       Evangelism (Leading lost souls to Jesus and encouraging these folks to also lead others to Jesus) (Mt. 28:19-20; Acts 8:4).

 

(2)       Making disciples (Assisting people to spiritual maturity) (1 Jn. 2:6).

 

(3)       Service (Helping equip people with the skills they need for a meaningful ministry in the church) (Eph. 4:1; 2:10)

 

2.      Why should we have a vision statement?

 

a.      The vision statement will reveal to others who we are, why we are here, and what we plan to offer them.

 

b.      The vision statement will help us stay focused on our mission as a church.

 

(1)       Some churches can get so wrapped up in dealing with less important issues, that before they knew it, they haven’t been evangelizing to the community in years.  Satan tries to sidetrack churches so that they are not being effective.

 

c.      This vision statement will help us stay busy and focused on:

 

(1)       Evangelism (Bringing souls to Christ).

(2)       Making Disciples (Assisting people to spiritual maturity).

(3)       Service (Helping equip people with the skills they need for a meaningful ministry in the church).

 

3.      How can we fulfill our vision statement?

 

a.       Christian Education.

 

(1)       We will offer a series of classes year round that are designed to educate people in our mission and develop their faith.  Once we are all striving to fulfill the same mission, we will grow rapidly. 

 

(2)       Show overhead of baseball diamond.

 

(a)       Many churches mistakenly assume that once a person is baptized, the sale has been consummated, and it is now up to the new believer to follow through with his commitment to grow as a Christian.  This is nonsense.  Baby believers don’t know what they need to do next.  It is the church’s responsibility to take the initiative in assimilating new people into the congregation and to help them develop in their faith.

 

CONCLUSION:

 

1.      To experience church growth, we must rely on God, and we must have a church vision and work hard to fulfill it.

 

 

III.                            THIRD, TO EXPERIENCE GROWTH IN OUR CONGREGATION, EVERY MEMBER OF THIS CHURCH BODY MUST BE PUTTING HIS OR HER TALENTS AND ABILITIES TO WORK.

 

1.       If we are going to prosper as the Lord's Church, every single one of us must be putting our talents and abilities to work in this church.  We must all work together to accomplish the will of God.

 

 

2.       I believe that our church is a sleeping giant.   If we can ever awaken and unleash the massive talent, resources, creativity, and energy lying dormant in our church, we will explode with growth, not only numerically but also in personal growth as well.

 

3.       Brethren, if we all start serving and using our talents and abilities in this church, there is no telling what we can accomplish for the Lord.

 

ILLUSTRATION:

 

There is a conservative church in Saddleback, California who grew from one family to over 10,000 in worship attendance in just fifteen years.

 

One of the biggest reasons why that church grew to such an enormous size, according to it’s Minister, Rick Warren, is because the majority of their members put their talents to work in that church.

 

If we all put our talents to work, we will prosper as the Lord’s Church!

 

I WOULD LIKE TO ENCOURAGE EVERYONE TO START GETTING MORE INVOLVED IN THE WORK OF THIS CHURCH.

 

WHY SHOULD WE BE INVOLVED IN THE WORK OF THE CHURCH?

 

A.                 FIRST, WE SHOULD BE INVOLVED IN THE WORK OF THE CHURCH BECAUSE THAT IS WHAT GOD CREATED US TO DO.

 

 

1.      One of the most basic questions a person can ask is “What is the purpose of my life?”

 

2.      Most people live their entire lives, year after year, with no idea of why they are here.

 

3.      For most people, the purpose of life is the pursuit of happiness.  Everyone wants to be happy.  So some people spend their lives looking for happiness.  That’s their purpose.

 

a.      Some look for happiness by acquiring possessions.

 

4.      The truth is that one’s possessions do not bring genuine happiness.  In fact Jesus once said in (Lk. 12:15) that “a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.

 

5.      Real happiness comes from discovering what God's purpose is for our lives.

 

6.      God has a purpose for each and every one of us and when we discover that purpose, true happiness begins!

 

 

7.      One purpose in our lives is to serve the Lord, and when we serve the Lord and His people at this church, then we will be fulfilling one of our responsibilities as Christians, and this will bring us true happiness.  Serving brings happiness!

 

B.                SECOND, WE SHOULD BE INVOLVED IN THE WORK OF THE CHURCH BECAUSE WE LOVE JESUS AND HIS CHURCH.

 

1.       Listen to statement that Paul made to the church of the Thessalonians.

 

 

2.       The motivating factor that prompted the Christians at Thessalonica to serve the Lord and His Church – was love.

 

3.       If we love the church, the church that Jesus purchased with His blood, then we will serve the church.

 

4.       One reason why we should participate in some of the churches ministries, like the visitation, evangelism, food, education, and other ministry areas is because we love the church.

 

ILLUSTRATION:

One time my sister called me on the phone and asked me to help her move from one apartment to another.

 

The first thing that came to my head was “I don’t want to help her move for the zillionth time.  I’ve got better things to do with my time.”

 

The next thing that came into my mind was, “tell her you have to work that day and that you won’t be able to help.”  See I began contemplating excuses that I could use so I wouldn’t have to help her move.

 

However, the words that eventually came out of my mouth were, “Sure Jill, I will help you.”

 

See the reason why I helped her is because I love her and she is family.  Family will help family because of love and commitment.

 

5.       The church should be no different.  When the church needs us to serve in different ministry areas, instead of making excuses on why we cannot do it, we should do it because the church is our family and we love our family.  Family will help family because of love.

 

6.       How many of us would refuse to help our biological families?  But how many of us refuse to help God’s family.

 

7.       If we truly love the Lord and His Church that love will compel us to be involved.

 

C.                THIRD, WE SHOULD BE INVOLVED IN THE WORK OF THE CHURCH BECAUSE THAT’S HOW THE CHURCH FUNCTIONS AT IT’S BEST.

 

1.           If the church is going to operate and function properly, we must all be doing our part.

 

2.           In (1 Cor. 12:12-26), Paul compares the church to a human body.  

 

3.           Paul’s major point in this passage is that everyone must be using his or her gifts and talents in the church, for the church to function properly.

 

ILLUSTRATION:

 

The organization I used to work for SuperShuttle, an airport ground transportation company that serves DFW airport, is one company that has many parts.

 

SuperShuttle has a:

 

Management team who makes sure the job is getting done.

Scheduling Department who makes sure that the drivers make into work on time.

Reservation Department who schedules passenger pickups.

Sales Department who generates business.

Maintenance Department who keeps the vans in good condition.

Personal Department who hires personal.

Drivers Training Department who trains the drivers.

Accounting Department. who keeps up with the books.

 

4.           The only way for the company to function properly is for every department to be doing its job.  If one department is not operating properly, the whole company suffers.

 

5.           In the same way, if all parts of the church are not functioning properly then the whole church suffers.

 

 

6.           The number one reason why many churches are not functioning properly is because of a lack of commitment on the part of some members .”

 

7.           The simple truth is that in many churches only a small number of people are doing the majority of the work.

 

8.           A Gallup survey discovered that only 10 percent of American church members are active in any kind of personal ministry in the church and that 50 percent of all church members have no interest in serving in any capacity.

 

9.           The reason why many churches are not functioning properly is because 10 percent of the people are trying to do 100 percent of the work, and there is no way that can work.

 

ILLUSTRATION:

 

Dressed as a rag doll, Melody Schick, 24, sat with a teddy bear cradled in her left arm and staring into space from a revolving platform.  Only her eyes moved.  Then, five hours and 43 boring minutes later she rose slowly and tried to smile.  Miss Schick was seeking to beat the world record for sitting still! The previous record was 5 hours and 32 minutes.  The record attempt took place at a Dallas shopping center as hundreds of shoppers watched.

 

10.      There are surely some saints in the church who could complete for that record.  They have been sitting still -- metaphorically if not literally -- for years.  They never become involved in the work of the local church.  They criticize the church frequently, but they never participate in the program.

 

11.      I do not want our church to be the kind of church that is sitting still.

 

a.       We must be a purpose driven church.

 

b.      We are a church on the move and we need every person doing his or her part.

 

12.      Every member of this church body must be putting his or her talents and abilities to work if we are going to function properly.

 

ILLUSTRATION:

 

One day a man spoke with the Lord about heaven and hell.  The Lord said to the man, “Come, I will show you hell.”  They entered a room where a group of people sat around a huge pot of stew.  Everyone was famished, desperate and starving.  Each held a spoon that reached the pot, but each spoon had a handle so much longer than their own arm that it could not be used to get the stew into their own mouths.  The suffering was terrible.

 

“Come, now I will show you heaven,” the Lord said.  They entered another room, identical to the first—the pot of stew, the group of people, the same long-handled spoons.  But there everyone was happy and well nourished.

 

“I don’t understand,” said the man.  “Why are they happy here when they were miserable in the other room and everything was the same?”

 

The Lord smiled.  “Ah, it is simple,” he said.  “Here they have learned to feed each other.”

 

13.      Brethren, if we are going to be successful as a body of Christ, we must all learn how to feed each other.  We must all be serving one another.

 

CONCLUSION:

 

1.       Once upon a time there were four men named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody .  There was an important job to be done and Everybody was asked to do it.  But Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it.  Anybody could have done it.  But Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about it, because it was Everybody's job. Everybody thought that Anybody could do it, and Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn't do it.  It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody and Nobody did the job that Anybody could have done in the first place.

 

2.       Brethren, we will grow and be a successful church if “Everybody is doing Something.”

 

 

IV.                           FOURTH, TO EXPERIENCE CHURCH GROWTH, WE MUST CONTINUE TO BE A FRIENDLY CONGREGATION THAT CARES ABOUT PEOPLE AND GENUINELY WELCOMES THEM INTO OUR FELLOWSHIP. 

 

1.       If people do not feel like they belong in our church family, they will not stay.

 

2.       In the book, “Exit Interviews,” which focuses on why people are leaving churches, William Hendricks writes that one reason why people are leaving churches is because they do not feel like they belong. 

 

ILLUSTRATION:

 

Mary and I after attending a church for three months left because we didn’t feel like we belonged.  The people did not except us into their fellowship.  When we walked into the door, people did not take an interest in us.  They were cliquish and too busy talking with their own knit groups.  

 

3.       Gary McIntosh and Glen Martin, in their book “Finding Them, Keeping Them,” writes “People can be reached, baptized, and brought into membership and not be incorporated into the friendship structure of a church.”

 

4.       Lyle E Schaller, a church growth expert, writes in “Assimilating New Members”:

 

a.      The background theory is that every congregation can be described in terms of two concentric circles.  The larger outer circle is the membership circle.  Every member is within that outer circle.  The smaller inner circle includes the members who feel a sense of belonging and who feel fully accepted into the fellowship of that called-out community. 

 

b.      There is a considerable evidence which suggests that at least one-third, and perhaps as many as one-half, of all church members do not feel a sense of belonging to the congregation of which they are members.  They have been received into membership, but have never felt they have been accepted into the fellowship circle.

 

5.       What is Schaller saying?

 

a.      There are two distinct and separate levels of inclusion.

 

b.      One is the superficial level to which most Christians find themselves belonging.  This is a level where they feel comfortable in the worship service, but Sunday School or small group involvement is avoided, and service and support are not on the agenda.

 

c.      The second level is much more relational.  It is the level where there is a sense of belonging and even a sense of accountability.  It is the level where involvement in service is an active part of the Christian life.

 

6.       Our goal as a church must be to bring people into the second level or the inner circle of the church.  This is the area where people feel like a part of our family. 

 

 

7.       Before people will commit to this church, I think they want to know the answers to four unspoken questions:

 

a.       Do I fit here?  This is a question of acceptance.  We must show people that we have a place for them.

 

b.      Does anybody want to know me?  This is a question of friendship.  People want to know if anyone will become their friend.

 

c.       Am I needed?  This is the question of value.  People want to make contributions with their lives.  They want to feel that they matter. 

 

d.      What is required of members?  This is a question of expectations.  People have a right to know what is expected of them before they join.

 

HOW CAN WE WELCOME PEOPLE INTO OUR FELLOWSHIP AND GIVE THEM A SENSE OF BELONGING?

 

A.                 When new visitors enter our church building, we must genuinely greet them and welcome them to our church!

 

1.       First impressions are crucial.  When people first walk into our church they need to be welcomed and feel a sense of belonging.  No visitor should ever leave without be greeted by at least five people.

 

2.       We should consider having greeters who welcome them at the door and direct them to the nursery, classrooms, or the worship center.

 

3.       If the visitors do not know anyone, we should consider having some of our friendly members ask them to sit with them.

 

B.                The following week after visitors visits, we should send them a letter  thanking them for coming and asking them if we can assist them in anyway.

 

C.                After a visitor visits our church twice, we should make a personal visit.

 

1.       We should take them a desert.

 

2.       We should ask them if we can help them in any way possible.

 

3.       Our visit should be brief and encouraging.

 

D.                At least four times a year, once a quarter, we should have a Friends Day and a nice fellowship meal.

 

E.                 We should invite our visitors and members  into our homes to get to know them better.

 

F.                 We should host at least six fun family outings a year and we should go on a church retreat once a year to fellowship together.

 

4.       If we want our church to grow, we must have a strategy to help people feel a sense of belonging.  We must move them from outsiders to insiders.  We must plan for it because it does not come natural!

 

CONCLUSION:

 

1.      Over the past several weeks, I shared with you several church growth principles that can help us grow to bigger and greater heights.

 

I.                    FIRST, TO EXPERIENCE CHURCH GROWTH, WE MUST RELY UPON THE POWER OF GOD.

 

II.                  SECOND, TO EXPERIENCE CHURCH GROWTH, WE MUST HAVE A CHURCH VISION AND WORK HARD TO FULFILL IT. 

 

III.                THIRD, TO EXPERIENCE CHURCH GROWTH, EVERY MEMBER OF THIS CHURCH BODY MUST BE PUTTING HIS OR HER TALENTS AND ABILITIES TO WORK.

 

IV.               FOURTH, TO EXPERIENCE CHURCH GROWTH, WE MUST CONTINUE TO BE A FRIENDLY CONGREGATION THAT CARES ABOUT PEOPLE AND GENUINELY WELCOMES THEM INTO OUR FELLOWSHIP. 

 

2.      I believe with all my heart that if we put these principles to work, we will grow and prosper as the Lord's Church.