DEVOTIONS AND SERMONS

                 Index

 
Church Growth
 

How can we make our churches grow?

1. Examine Our Ways

Lamentations 3:40
Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the LORD.

When our churches are not growing we got to 1] examine our ways 2] test them and 3] return to the Lord.

That is what Nehemiah did. He went to Jerusalem; he set out to inspect the wall. He examined each wall, checked how it was, noted down the problem and also devised a solution to solve or rebuild each part of the wall that was damaged.

This is what we got to do to make our churches grow. We need to inspect or survey the Broken Walls[parts] of our churches and find a practical solution to fix them. And God will give us the wisdom, if we ask him to rebuild our broken parts of our churches, just like God had put it in the heart of Nehemiah what to do.

Nehemiah 2:11-18
11 I went to Jerusalem, and after staying there three days
12 I set out during the night with a few men. I had not told anyone what my God had put in my heart to do for Jerusalem. There were no mounts with me except the one I was riding on.
13 By night I went out through the Valley Gate toward the Jackal Well and the Dung Gate, examining the walls of Jerusalem, which had been broken down, and its gates, which had been destroyed by fire.
14 Then I moved on toward the Fountain Gate and the King's Pool, but there was not enough room for my mount to get through;
15 so I went up the valley by night, examining the wall. Finally, I turned back and reentered through the Valley Gate.
16 The officials did not know where I had gone or what I was doing, because as yet I had said nothing to the Jews or the priests or nobles or officials or any others who would be doing the work.
17 Then I said to them, "You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace."
18 I also told them about the gracious hand of my God upon me and what the king had said to me. They replied, "Let us start rebuilding." So they began this good work.


Survey is the right thing to do. What kind of survey we need to do?

Are stats and surveys sinful?

Survey needs to be done with the right motive. We need to know that God is the one who will make our churches grow, it is not us. We need to plant and water, but God does the Growth part.

1 Corinthians 3:6-7
6 I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow.
7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.


God wanted Moses and Aaron to take the census of Israel.

Numbers 1:1-4
1 The LORD spoke to Moses in the Tent of Meeting in the Desert of Sinai on the first day of the second month of the second year after the Israelites came out of Egypt. He said:
2 "Take a census of the whole Israelite community by their clans and families, listing every man by name, one by one.
3 You and Aaron are to number by their divisions all the men in Israel twenty years old or more who are able to serve in the army.
4 One man from each tribe, each the head of his family, is to help you.


He wanted them to 1. List every man by name, one by one, 2. Figure out all men who are 20 yrs old or older who can serve in the army, 3. One man from each tribe, the Tribal head to help them.

This is what we do in our churches, have a membership list. But also we need to know what kind of members we have in our church. Categorize them. Find out how many men, women, singles, marrieds, families, campus students, teens, pre-teens who can get baptized in the near future, Tamilians, Malayalees, Maharashtrians, Biharis, graduates, post-graduates, widows, divorcees, single mothers, single marrieds[only one spouse a member of the church], how many who earn more than 5000 or 10000 per month, etc.

Let us figure out which part of the church has grown or not grown. Then make a plan to build up the parts that are not growing and build up the part that is growing so it can grow more.

Only when we do a survey like this we will get to know the cracks in the building and we can fix them. We will personally be able to see which part or group of the church is neglected and we can turn it around.

2. Check Our Personal Growth

A church growth mostly is in proportion to the individuals growth especially the leaders growth.

In other words if we are not growing, then the church will not grow.

The Bottom-line of church growth is our own personal spiritual growth.

If we are not growing, means we have become stagnant, so the church become stagnant.

If we are stuck in our spiritual life the church is stuck, and church can't move forward.

We must be convinced that if we are growing we will call others to grow with us. If we stop growing we will stop others from growing.

If we are growing we will have more faith and hope that others can grow and change. If we are stuck we will get the church feel stuck.

Let us check our growth in the last 6 months. Have we grown? What have we grown in or not grown in?

a. Grow in our love for God and people. Being more passionate. [ 2 Th 1:3-4 We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing. Therefore, among God's churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring. ]

b. Grow in our wisdom and knowledge.

c. Grow in our understanding of ministry and ministry principles.

d. Growing in our character - confidence, Boldness in evangelism,joy, weight, purity, responsibility, financial discipline.

2 Peter 1:5-8
5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge;
6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness;
7 and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.
8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.


e. Growing in our maturity - distinguishing right from wrong.[ Heb 5:14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. ]

f. What about Personal Fruit? Have we been fruitful yet?

Let us examine and test our ways, return to the Lord[Head] of the Church, to ask for wisdom to plan for Explosive Growth in our churches.

3. Check The Pulse

a. Sensitive discipling.

Are people happy? Specifically focus on every group in the church and find out are they happy? Check the family group, zone, sector, Malayalees[language group], old x'ns , young x'ns, teens, campus students, the newly weds, married people with kids, physically disabled, the poor disciples, pregnant women, bereaved families, mothers with new born babies, widows, etc.,

b. Training of disciples and leaders

(i) Scriptural Training - leaders and disciples need to learn Guard the gospel. The first 5 studies - Who is God, Who is Jesus - I, Who is Jesus - II, Word of God and Discipleship. Most of our people only need to know these 5 studies to start studying with non-x'ns.

(ii) Ministry training - Ministry training can be done in different ways.
     - Watching and learning
     - Listening and learning
     - Teaching and learning
     - Experiencing and learning
     - Making mistakes and learning,
     - Asking and learning
     - Imitating and learning

There is nothing like people being with you and around you to influence them and train them. In general people need lot of specific instructions to make them victorious.

(iii) Character training - has to be done sensitively with out being harsh. Many people have limitations in how much they can change their character weaknesses. Being patient with them and lovingly addressing their weaknesses can motivate them to change. Some brothers in their zeal to change an another person has often left them crushed and bitter. Work with people on their - Joy level, confidence, reliability, self-control, purity, humility, marriage,financial discipline, punctuality without crushing them.

c. Group Needs and Identity.

Luke 6:13
When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles:

In each of our churches we have different sizes groups with their own individual identity and influence.

          CHURCH = CELL + CLAN + CONGREGATION

CELL = a small group as a nucleus of the church [SIZE = 3-12 disciples]. This group provides an environment for personal intimacy in relationships. This small CELL[family group] can and must meet all the needs of the disciples. The ideal group size should not increase more than 12. This group can imitate the group of Apostles that Jesus led of 12. Where their individual needs was met by Jesus himself as the CELL[family group] leader. In this group there should be a great heart of openness of any struggles, can focus on evangelism, and the group to feel like a family just like that of Jesus[John 13:34-35].

CLAN = A large family or group with strong common interest or identity. [SIZE = 25 - 200 disciples] This group gives a sense of belonging to all members and all the members can easily know each other's names. A zone, sector, campus, teens gives a special identity for disciples and they can have a sense of pride in belonging to this CLAN[sector/zone/campus/single/Mighty men]. Jesus had this group when he met with the 72 [Luke 10:1,17] and Peter had a group like this when he met with the 120 believers[Acts 1:15] after the ascension.

CONGREGATION = A crowd or mass gathered together for religious worship [SIZE = 200+] This is our Sunday worship service. Where the disciples may not know all the members names but there is a spirit of Celebration and joy as all the Cell and Clans come together to worship God. This group builds up the faith of everyone else who come. This is the group that Peter preached to on the day of Pentecost and 3000 were baptized [Acts 2:3,41]

In our churches our groups are divided as follows
     - Family groups[3-12 disciples] - CELL
     - Zones[2 familygroups, upto 25 disciples] - CLAN
     - Sectors [2 or more zones, 50 upto 200 disciples] - CLAN
     - Regions [2 or more sectors, 200-500 disciples] - CONGREGATION
     - Church [All members] - CONGREGATION

Also we have Campus Ministry, Teens ministry, Music Ministry, Pre-teens ministry,Singles ministry, Marrieds ministry, Golden Age ministry, Mighty Men/women, Malayalam Ministry, Telugu Ministry etc. - all these groups are type CLAN.

In our CHURCHes all these groups [CELL + CLAN + CONGREGATION ] need to do well. Each of the meeting of these groups should be inspiring and if they all function well will produce Great Church Growth.

d. Everyone's participation.

1 Peter 4:10
Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms.

Every disciple must be ACTIVE. We need to make every disciple feel important and useful for God and His kingdom.

e. Consistency or Too many changes?

Consistency brings a sense of security and clear direction to our disciples. Too many changes and confusing dates of events produces insecurity and bad attitudes among the disciples.

Also the Rhythm of the church should not be changed randomly and emotionally. Reactive leadership people can't trust and follow. A consistent leader people appreciate and wholeheartedly follow. Every month there should be consistent focus on Baptisms, Restorations, counting out people who are unrepentant, encouraging the weak, marriage, family, singles, marriage planning for singles etc.

So we can see a consistent growth in the church and not just erratic growth. As we see in the New Testament Acts, there was a consistent explosive growth in the church. As we see even in Acts 6:1-7, even with problems within the church, because the apostles were consistently focused on the Ministry of the Word and Prayer, the Churches grew rapidly[Acts 6:7].

Let us examine and test our ways, return to the Lord[Head] of the Church, to ask for wisdom to plan for Explosive Growth in our churches.