It’s very clear from scripture that the expectation of the church is that it grows (Ephesians 4). A church that is dying or shrinking is not a healthy church that honors the Lord. As Paul states in Ephesians 4:16, “when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”
You are responsible for church growth
It’s pretty easy to make excuses why your church isn’t growing. Some blame the elders. Some blame the lack of teaching. Some blame legalism. Some blame liberalism. Some blame worldliness. Some blame … well you get the idea.
The fact is that each part of the body (that means you) plays a vital role in the health and growth of the church. Can one person turn an entire assembly around and start the growing process? Yes, it’s possible.
The work of the Spirit has often been ignited by just a few people with a burden for the church to grow. Here are 5 ways from Ephesians 4 you can help your local church to grow.
1 Stop complaining and start loving proactively
Paul is pretty clear that love is one of the central characteristics of growth. Not the kind of love that is merely expressed in words or good intentions but a love that impacts others with real, tangible results. Give it a shot and see what will happen.
Start visiting the shut-ins and widows. Start meeting with fellow believers to pray with them and encourage them. Go to a person in the church you don’t know well and start a conversation with them. Babysit some kids so a couple can have a much needed date (And do it for free!). There are a thousand ways to demonstrate love – try one today.
2. Get off the couch and get busy in the church
Paul makes no mistaking that every saint has a “work of ministry” (Eph 4:12). Work takes work. It takes effort. We could even say it takes blood, sweat and tears. In other places Paul uses terms like athlete, soldier and farmer. None of these occupations conjure up images of laziness but hard work.
Is it possible that you have become lazy and are no longer involved in the church like you once were? Maybe you are discouraged and want to give up – don’t!! The only way to see growth is to be active in using your gifts “for building up the body of Christ” (Eph 4:12).
3. Jump off the pedestal and start supporting others
In Verse 13 Paul reminds us that none of us have attained full maturity. How easy it is for pride to creep into our attitude and give us a sense of superiority or entitlement. I have seen this so many times in the assemblies and sadly in my own heart as well.
Instead let’s get on our hands and knees so that others can stand on our backs and reach higher. There’s a brother or sister in your assembly whose life is pretty messy. Do you have enough humility to get down into the mud where they are and help them up? That’s what Jesus would do!
4. Come out of the darkness and into the light
Ephesians 4 is full of references to knowledge and truth: the knowledge of the Son of God (v. 13); speaking the truth in love (v. 15); futility of their minds (v. 17); the ignorance that is in them (v. 18); the truth is in Jesus (v. 21); speak the truth with his neighbor (v. 25).
One of the greatest ways you can help your local church grow is to be active in learning the Word of God. This means in personal study, small group study and discipleship.
It is sad when our assemblies are filled with believers who have very little appetite for the scriptures. They are content to hear a nice message on a Sunday and think little else of diving into the Word with others.
The Ephesian church were great examples as they studied the Word for 2 years every day (Acts 19). Are you actively involved in Bible study and discipleship? If not, make that a reality this week!
5. Let go of the bitterness and forgive
There are a few things that will cripple both an individual and a church and one of them is bitterness. At the close of Ephesians 4 Paul reminds the saints,
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Any questions? There’s no room for excuses is there? If you are holding any of these attitudes in your heart the Lord is very direct here that you must let them go. Holding onto them is going to stop the growth in the church and in your life. Don’t put this off any longer and get it resolved immediately!
Growth in a church isn’t easy. It takes work, humility, sacrifice and surrender but that’s what the Lord has called us to. It’s for his glory and for the building up of his people. May it be so in our lives and assemblies in 2017!