Image Credit: Getty Images/Patricio Nahuelhual

Gotta Start Somewhere

​How do we get a church to grow? Not just sprout then wither, but really grow. The longer I have been an Adventist and a pastor the more I am convinced we often start at the wrong spot when trying to enact growth within our churches.

We are good at forming committees, writing books and making vision statements, and we know all the right strategies for creating growth. But honestly, we are less successful than we would like or ought to be. So what’s the problem?

​I would argue that creating growth within our churches shouldn't be the main focus. If we are focused on growth, we are focusing on the end result we want, not the actual steps to accomplishing that goal. There really are two things we need to focus on if we want to enact lasting growth.

​First, read the Bible. It isn’t enough to hear a sermon each Sabbath; it isn’t enough to once a week think about God. We need to actually dive into the Word of God for ourselves regularly. When we study the Bible, we are learning about God, His desires for our lives and the great plan of salvation.

It's through regular biblical study that we will begin to be transformed by God’s words living in us. The story of salvation, the great love of Christ for us and the truth that we can be saved when we accept His great sacrifice on our behalf is learned through reading scripture.

​If we desire to become a triathlete, we practice and train. Not just once in a while, not just the day before a race — regularly. There is no hope of being ready for the race without the proper pre-work. So it is with growth within the church. We can’t show up one day and expect that suddenly the church will grow without putting in the pre-work that is needed.

​Reading scripture regularly, daily, is vital for forming a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. If we have a personal relationship with Jesus now we have something to share with others. Now our relationship with Jesus is alive enough to be visible to others.

When a whole church dedicates themselves to studying the Bible — really reading it themselves — a true transformation takes place. Suddenly there is something to share when someone walks in the door; suddenly there is a spirit of Godliness that is present in the church that is appealing to people as they come in. We can only truly share what we already have.

​The second thing we need to do to enact true church growth is partake in regular prayer time with God. It is through Bible reading and prayer that we commune with God and it is how we bring our characters into submission to God.

By beholding we become changed. What we take in is what we give out. Growth is not possible if we aren’t dedicated to God first and foremost. And we can’t know God personally, be truly transformed by Him or be able to share about Him if we don’t first have a personal relationship with Him.

​My challenge for you is to stop looking for church growth, revival and reformation. Instead, focus on God first. Get to know Him in a meaningful way through regular scripture reading and prayer.

Then your personal relationship with Jesus will be something you can share with others. When a church devotes itself to this sole purpose — a thriving relationship with Jesus Christ — that church will grow!

Featured in: March/April 2024



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