What’s it like to be part of a growing church?
Maybe it’s been a minute since you thought about church growth. There are many theories about what happens when a church who began as family church attracts more people to become a pastor-centered church to one that is program sized and eventually engages more people to become a large church! A lot changes, hopefully transformation, right?
Although we might be excited about continued church growth, there are things to consider. One very important component is practicing personal humility and personal spiritual growth. Notice what makes you agitated or disappointed. Be Christ-like in everything—means being Christ-like with new people, new situations and new challenges. Sometimes these are known as ‘pain points’ where the possibility for growth is crucial because it indicates the place where Christ is working within you.
More people, more ministry. Priorities change. Expectations need to be adjusted—not everyone likes change—some hate it. So how do we hold onto the good, Christ like growth in the midst of change?
God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love—like Christ in everything. Ephesians 4:15
Realize most of us hate growth. It is common to resist, rebel and become resentful because we are called to be something we are not—to be like Christ in everything. We like growth when it’s on our terms or with people we like or with people that are like us. We like to be with people who believe like us. Birds of a feather flock together! Brotherly love—is wonderful—but it’s based on something less than Christ.
Godly growth means change—the type of change which leads to transformation. The Bible tends to challenge our ideas about our little definitions and about who we are and what we believe.
God wants you to grow up.
The Bible says, “We are not meant to remain as children.” (Ephesians 4:14) The scriptural goal for you is to mature and develop the characteristics of Jesus Christ, living a life of agape-love and humble service to our Christ our King. Yet many Christians grow older but never grow up. They’re stuck in perpetual spiritual infancy, drinking milk and chewing soft food. (1 Corinthians 3:2) One reason is because they never intended to grow.
Spiritual growth is not automatic; it takes an intentional commitment. You must want to grow, decide to grow, make an effort to grow, and persist in growing. Discipleship is an ancient word for spiritual growth; it’s the process of becoming like Christ in everything. And it always begins with a decision.
Think of the moment when you chose to follow Jesus. What did you understand about what it meant to be a believer? What did you not realize? What needs to change?
How are you more like Christ today? What do others confirm and affirm?
Do you need to grow up? What’s your next step?
What is church growth, really?
Where are my pain points? Is my pain louder than my love for Christ?
Are there regular practices that can help us hold onto the good while becoming Christ-like in everything? YES!
1. Practice regular spiritual disciplines:
Dedicate time to worship, prayer, fasting, meditation, studying Scripture and talking with trusted friends to cultivate your personal deep, personal relationship with Christ.
Scripture Reference: James 4:8 - "Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you."
2. Model servant leadership:
Lead by example, showing humility, compassion, and a willingness to serve others in both small and significant ways.
Scripture Reference: Mark 10:45 - "For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
3. Empower others with both responsibility and accountability:
Delegate responsibilities and encourage the development of leadership skills with regards to being accountable to the values, plans and goals of the ministry and of the church.
Scripture Reference: Ephesians 4:11-12 - "And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ."
4. Prioritize genuine Christ-like agape relationships:
Foster authentic connections within our church community, showing genuine care and interest in the lives of others.
Scripture Reference: 1 Peter 1:7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
5. Practice active listening:
Seek to hear the other, understand the needs of others, listen to their concerns, and discover aspirations of our new comers-friends-members, demonstrating empathy and compassion.
Scripture Reference: James 1:19 - "Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger."
6. Address conflicts with agape love:
Handle disagreements, pain points and conflicts with grace and agape, seeking resolutions that prioritize reconciliation, transformation, and understanding.
Scripture Reference: Ephesians 4:2-3 - "With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."
7. Stay grounded in God's Word:
Continuously refer to Scripture for guidance and wisdom in decision-making and interactions with others.
Scripture Reference: Psalm 119:105 - "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
8. Cultivate a heart of gratitude:
Gratitude is the antedote to selfishness. Express thankfulness for the growth and blessings our church experiences, remembering that all good things come from God.
Scripture Reference: 1 Thessalonians 5:18 - "Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
9. Maintain a focus on discipleship:
Ensure that the spiritual growth and well-being of all our members remains a central priority as the church expands.
Scripture Reference: Matthew 28:19-20 - "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you."
10. Adapt and evolve with purpose:
Embrace change with a sense of optimism and discovery, ensuring that growth aligns with the core values and mission of the Christ-like church.
Scripture Reference: Proverbs 19:21 - "Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand."
11. Seek mentorship, mature Christian fellowship, and accountability:
Surround yourself with wise counsel, seeking mentorship, mature Christian fellowship, and being accountable to trusted individuals.
Scripture Reference: Proverbs 15:22 - "Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed."
12. Personally make a commitment to learn and grow:
Stay open to new perspectives, engage in ongoing education, and be willing to learn from experiences and feedback.
Scripture Reference: Proverbs 18:15 - "An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.”
13. Pray for guidance and wisdom:
Seek God's direction through solitude, prayer, and talking with trusted advisors, inviting His guidance in decision-making and leadership.
Scripture Reference: James 1:5 - "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him."
14. Actively engage in Holy Spirit presence and power:
This means we intentionally seek and rely on the guidance, empowerment, and spiritual gifts provided by the Holy Spirit in every aspect of leading and growing our church. This involves fostering an atmosphere where the Holy Spirit's presence is welcomed and expected, allowing for supernatural manifestations of His power, wisdom, and spiritual gifts in the life of our church community. It also entails cultivating a personal, intimate relationship with the Holy Spirit through prayer, worship, and a continual openness to His leading in both individual and corporate settings. Ultimately, it means recognizing the Holy Spirit as an active and essential partner in all aspects of our church leadership and ministry.
One key takeaway is that leading a growing church empowered by the Holy Spirit to become Christ-like in every way involves a continual focus on humble service, authentic relationships based in agape and not brotherly love, empowerment and trust of others, seeking wisdom, and purposeful adaptation to change requiring us to become even more Christ-like in everything we do.