From a numbers perspective, we at the Midway Church of Christ showed good signs of growth. 12 precious souls put Christ on in baptism; 48 responded to the Lord’s invitation and requested prayers; 26 individuals (10 families) placed membership. Additional signs of spiritual growth abound as well: increased attendance, greater levels of activity, strengthening of bonds, showing a spirit of giving, etc.
I think it’s important that when we talk about “church growth,” we talk in terms greater than just numbers. However, numbers can be an indicator of inward steps of growth. I think we all would agree we’ve been blessed with growth in 2006.
How did this happen this past year? What have we done to cause growth? Who deserves the credit? What are we doing that would cause others to join us? And most importantly, what commitments do we need to make to ensure growth in 2007?
In a letter written to a church with a host of problems, Paul gives the “equation” for church growth. He was making the point that division is wrong and not to be found among God’s children. In explaining this, he emphasizes that it doesn’t matter who was doing the preaching or baptizing (Paul, Apollos, etc.). In 1 Corinthians 3:6, Paul says, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.”
Our resident math teachers (Sandy Wright, Paulette Harbison, and others) might would simplify Paul’s statement something like this:
([Paul]p + [Apollos]w)Lord = growth
(planting + watering)Lord = growth
For the rest of the month, we’ll spend our time breaking down this equation and notice steps we can take to continue our growth in the Lord.
Paul’s first clause in the sentence alludes to his “planting.” Paul’s role in the first century was to travel around preaching the gospel and helping Christians establish local congregations. Paul was saying he planted the seed of the gospel in the hearts of the Corinthians like Jesus explained in the parable of the soils in Matthew 13.
Like in the first century, in order for the church to grow today, we need the gospel planted in the hearts of men and women. Therefore, we need planters.
The church needs hard-working, determined, and patient people who take seriously the Lord’s admonition to “go into all world” preaching the gospel (Mark 16:15).
Notice Paul’s words in Romans 10:14-15, “But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’” Paul’s series of questions prove the gospel needs to be taught and heard. He admonishes us to make sure it gets taught. He concludes by showing how precious gospel-spreaders truly are.
Are we planting? Are we taking advantage of opportunities to talk about our faith in Christ with others? Are we trying to set up Bible studies with friends and family members? Are we maximizing your potential by teaching Bible classes here at Midway? Are we making sure our own young people understand the importance of obeying the gospel?
May the Lord help us to be better planters in 2007. Have a great week!