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Principles Of Church Growth In The Early Church

INTRODUCTION

This article presents the concept of “church growth” alongside evangelism primarily in the book of Acts. While the Old Testament depicts evangelism as people coming to God, Luke’s perspective shows that God’s servants will go to His people. Blauw’s position is that “a centripetal missionary consciousness becomes in Acts a centrifugal missionary activity…” (1974, 34). In George Orwell’s Animal Farm, the pigs looked like a pig to a human and vice versa, but they couldn’t tell them apart on the last page of the text which by extension shows what could happen if the church wants to imitate the world. One cannot replace the methods or principles that brought the growth of the New Testament church to our own age.

TYPES OF ECCLESIASTICAL DEVELOPMENT

1. Internal: This is the spiritual development of Christians. The right relationship with God and man is created. Many Christians quote John 3:16 which demonstrates God’s love for man without considering 1 John 3:16 which focuses on man’s love for his fellow man.

2. Extension: This is accomplished by evangelizing non-Christians within the church or ministry area.

3. Extension: This is the growth of the church by establishing affiliate churches in the same general homogeneous group and geographical area.

4. Bridging: Focuses on planting churches in different cultural and geographical areas.

CHURCH GROWTH: WAYS TO GROW

1. Biological growth- children of existing members coming to the church.

2. Transfer growth- members of one church joining another church.

3. Increase of conversion- the entrance into the church of the people of the world who are converted by receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

DEFINITION OF TERMS

Evangelism: Evangelism in Acts is the communication of the good news of Jesus Christ through oral proclamation and lifestyle witness, with the purpose of leading an individual or group to salvation in Christ.

Church growth: This is the quantitative and qualitative growth of the church. It is different from the “swelling” that is common and dangerous in the modern church. The African Church is dismissed as a mile wide and an inch deep, implying that factors other than numbers account for church growth. Church growth could also be seen as the application of Biblical, anthropological, and sociological principles to churches, denominations, and their communities in an effort to disciple the greatest number of people for Jesus Christ. Believing that it is God’s will for His Church to grow and His lost children to be found, church growth strives to devise strategies, develop goals, and apply proven principles of growth to individual churches, denominations, and the global body of Christ.

Church Growth Eyes: This is a characteristic of Christians who have achieved the ability to see growth potential and implement appropriate strategies to obtain maximum results for Christ and His church.

Church Growth Principle: According to McGavran and Ann, this is “a universal truth which, when properly interpreted and applied, contributes significantly to the growth of churches and denominations. It is a truth of God that leads his church to spread his good news. plant church after church, and increase his body” (1977, p. 15).

PRINCIPLES

1. Prayer or spiritual warfare

Prayer is essential for church growth. John Stott comments that after Jesus’ ascension, the disciples’ prayers had two characteristics that “are two essential elements of true prayer, namely, that they persisted and were single-minded” (1990, 10). The principle of united prayer, or praying with one mind and purpose, is a thread that runs through the Acts of the Apostles. Luke’s original description of the 120 (1:5) shows that they followed Christ’s command to wait for the Holy Spirit by praying obediently as a group WITH ONE MIND. See also Acts 4:18 (Sanhedrin). Acts 12:5 (Herod). Acts 11:11 (Salvation of Peter).

2. A clear and unique vision

In the King James Version, Proverbs 29:18 is rendered, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Vision is God’s dream of what He wants to accomplish in and through our lives and the lives of our churches. Many churches have vision statements that they never use. What God blesses with success in one place is not necessarily His plan for any other. Every growing church has a sense of unique vision and purpose—a clear sense of direction. The church planter and the laity share a common vision of what God wants this church to accomplish. In most cases, the churchman and the people can clearly describe and articulate their vision. This gives people a sense of direction. They are moving towards a goal. They don’t just exist.

3. Leadership

A dynamic growing church is catalyzed by dynamic leadership that brings the whole church into action. For the church member to function as a good leader, he must have certain character qualities and perform certain specific leadership responsibilities. The church planter must truly desire growth for the church and must be willing to pay the price with hard work. Leadership must lead the work to organize the mission, set goals, develop plans, and mobilize people for completion. He must be creative, innovative and assertive about the vision and mission God has for His work.

4. The recognition and importance of lay people

Project people must be equipped to discover and use their gifts. They must be ready to take on new responsibilities and willingly hand over various leadership positions to other new individuals as the church continues to grow or expand.

5. Strategic Planning

The idea is to develop ongoing strategies that will help achieve the mission of the church. These should lead the church to the realization of the completion of its vision. With specific instructions from the Savior, the apostles established a strategy to reach Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). Nehemiah placed his people in areas of interest. Paul went to the synagogue and then to the marketplace which was both the marketplace and the center of public life (Acts 7:17). A good church website can help your church grow. Unfortunately, there is an ongoing war in this technological age: Technophilia vs. Technophobia. Many Rip Van Wrinkles exist in modern times. Many church leaders have yet to realize the potential of a website for church growth. However, a church website specifically designed to reach outsiders, integrated with other appropriate outreach strategies, could be a major key to attracting non-Christians to your church.

6. Life Development Groups

This could be stated as the principle of assimilation. Perhaps the most important aspect of this principle is that the church must be structured in a way that develops an organizational foundation for growth. The bigger the base, the bigger the potential for growth. Life development groups provide a critical function that facilitates the growth of a church, e.g. Sunday School groups, Youth Fellowship, Ministries (Men, Women, Youth, Children) etc.

7. Indigenization

Paul and Barnabas left the indigenous churches with leadership that would provide direction after the departure of the apostles. Although the forms of church government varied in the New Testament, they appointed elders to continue their leadership roles. The elders were in the church (“in every church” Acts 14:23) completing the indigenization process.

8. Open the Gospel

In the early church, some viewed Christians as Jews who accepted Jesus as the promised Savior. Consequently, any Gentile who wishes to become a Christian must first become a Jew. This “closed” gospel was a major concern for Christians like Paul. The Council of Jerusalem became a pivotal point in the history of the early church. Neither circumcision nor fitting into the Jewish community would be necessary. Christians today should discover the same attitude toward the unbelieving world. Is the gospel open today or does it carry the baggage of cultural expectations, idolatry of tradition, etc.? One does not necessarily have to become a member of your tribe before becoming a Christian.

9. Monitoring

The mission of the church is to win souls. Therefore, evangelism is not treated as a single principle, since this is the primary mission of the church. The relative meaning of “following” is vital for young Christians. According to Acts 15:36, “after a few days, Paul said to Barnabas, let us go again and visit our brothers in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they do.” The following will could be seen as a maternal instinct.It is a deliberate focus on young and new believers for the purpose of spiritual guidance and counseling.

10. Apprenticeship

According to John Wesley, to lead souls to Christ without a discipleship program is to beget sons for the devil. The growth of the church is enhanced when each member becomes part of the body (Eph. 4:16; Rom. 12:3-8; 1 Cor. 12:12-22, etc.) and is endangered when not identified with the body. . What we have learned must be committed to believers to teach others. The Importance of Bible Study, Sunday School Lessons, etc. cannot be overemphasized.

11. Sovereignty (Supreme Authority of God)

Despite the abundance of conflict and failure in the early church, Luke clearly communicates that God is the ultimate victor. Acts, in perspective, is an account of God’s sovereign work in the midst of external and internal forces that would upset any “normal” movement. Although we are the vehicle to spread the Gospel, our power and strength come from God. He gives the increase after ‘planting’ and ‘watering’, He makes all things beautiful, not in our time, but in His time. One sows, another waters, but God gives the increase. Clay doesn’t question Potter’s intent.

LIST OF REFERENCES

Blauw, J. The Missionary Nature of the Church. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974.

McGavran Donald A. and Winfield C. Arn. Ten steps for the growth of the Church. New York: Harper and Row, 1977.

Stott, John. The Spirit, the Church and the World. Downers Grove, Illinois: Inter Varsity, 1990.

Wagner, Peter C., ed. Church Growth: The State of the Art. Wheaton: Tyndale House, 1986.

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