by Fred C. Rochester, Pastor. The Fastest Way To Grow Your Church. Copyright 2011. All Rights Reserved.
Over the last few decades, many pastors are looking for ways to grow his or her local church. The Lord gave the apostles a blueprint to do just that.
During the 1980’s and 90’s the churches that came about were more or less “TRANSFER” growth churches.
In other words, people heard about a particular church and what they were offering. People “shifted” their membership from one local church to another.
Transfer growth is a part of church life but abuses on both parts unnecessarily takes place. It is frustrating for pastors because when you are trying to build on the momentum, sometimes people act funny after they make a commitment. Sometimes pastors act funny too and abuse the people that truly desire to be a part of the local church.
Sometimes people are led of the Lord according to the divine plans and purposes of God to go to a local church. Sometimes people relocate to certain parts of the city, state, or nation. Sometimes a church closes for whatever reason and they look for another place to fellowship.
Sometimes people are spiritually restless and they are looking for another place to grow spiritually. Sometimes people do not want to come to church and go to channel surfing church or they check out live streaming as opposed to leaving their homes.
Then you have believers that roam from church to church, having multiple memberships. They say that they are “led” and they call everyone their “pastor.”
Whatever the case may be, it is important for people to have “a” church home. Why is it important? Coming to church is about honoring God and hearing from the Word of God from competent spiritual leadership. It is about joining a community of believers to fellowship with each other and to help one another grow spiritually.
It is about meeting the spiritual needs of the community that the local church is assigned to. It is about people participating in the greatest work on earth. Building the kingdom of God on the earth to manifest the will of God on earth as it is in heaven.
God cannot make everyone go to church. He’d rather have a willing heart than a heart that grudgingly serves Him. Either you love Him or you don’t.
I do not agree with pastors using “spiritual manipulation” to get people into church. I do not condone pastors using “strong arm” tactics to keep people in the pews. I don’t believe that the local church was designed to be socially agenda minded to the degree that the original intent of the church is overwhelmed and lost.
If the people come and stay in His local church, it’s because they love the Lord and they trust the leadership. As long as the leadership follow the Lord, and the Word of God. Trust, honesty, accountability, holiness, and singleness of purpose must be the benchmark of the minister.
The pulpit, the pew, and the musician must endeavor to live holy lives. Without holiness, no man may see the Lord (see Hebrews 12:14). Without holiness, no man is anointed.
The church belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ. The people belong to the Lord. According to Hebrews 10:25, no one should intentionally “…forsake the assembling…”
As a side note, if you study out the book of Hebrews, you will note that the Hebrew Christians were challenged by the followers of angel worshippers and the law of Moses to walk away from Jesus, and return to Judiasm.
The Hebrew Christians were terrorized and harshly persecuted. Even to the point of death. This kind of persecution caused many of them to walk away from the Lord and the church. While Saul wasn’t a part of this persecution, Saul was a terrorist until he met the Lord on the road to Damascus (see Acts 8:1-3, 9:1-9).
Today, many believers have walked away from the assembly (church). Not because of persecution but because of many other church “options” such as live streaming, cable, satellite, and the Internet. Another alarming thing is that many denominations are closing its doors because there is no replenishment of young people to pick up the torch.
Sometimes, when church leadership and people do not move to where the Spirit of the Lord is, that church, it’s leadership, and people will remain trapped in its traditional setting. In other words, when the church started 40 or 50 years ago, the same hymns, preaching, and praying is done today.
They cease to be a movement because they have monumentalized or crystalized what once was a fresh move of God.
Then you have people in the church that is afraid to take risks to evangelize. They leave evangelism up to the pastor that is already overwhelmed with prayer and the ministry of the Word according to Acts 6:4. They leave the shepherd to have sheep when sheep is supposed to produce sheep.
It is ultimately the responsibility of the pastor to train and equip the people to do the work of the ministry according to Ephesians 4:11-12. Not to train and equip the people to sit after they are trained. The pastors must motivate people to take partnership seriously according to Romans 12:1-13. Church life is more than just filling seats. The vibrant life of the church has its foundation in the worship service but the people come to life in its extracurricular activities.
Many were a part of the local church until they’ve experienced pastoral and parishioner “church hurt.” Many people will not darken the doorstep of a church because of hypocrisy in the pulpit and in the pews. Many will not come to church because of clergy sexual sins. Many will not come to church because of sins in their own lives.
While these reasons is not a valid reason for not finding a sincere church to be a part of, we that declare that we are “changed” should never give saints, sinners, and backsliders a reason for not coming to church.
The imperfect church is a place where we mature as believers in the Lord. We learn how to walk in love and grace towards one another. In being the church, we have to depart and refrain from iniquity while learning how to have forbearance towards one another.
When it comes to sin, light and darkness cannot fellowship, associate, or have anything in common. It means that sin must be dealt with by making a quality decision to obey the correct preaching and teaching of the Word of God.
Teaching people how to live lives free of sin and satan’s devices. It doesn’t mean we prevent people from coming to church with their sins unless they are not producing fruit in accordance with John chapter 15.
We give all believers the opportunity to grow and mature in the things of the Lord.
Having said this, the church must return to the true Biblical reason why it exists.
The church is an assembly of believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. The intent of the church is to be a place of God’s holy habitation through the Spirit.
The church is centered around seven things.
2. Prayer and Evangelism
3. The Doctrine Of Christ/The Apostle’s Doctrine
4. Fellowship Among The Believers
5. Accountability And Stewardship Among The Believers
6. Company Of Believers Becoming One In The Temple
7. Meeting The Needs of the Needy
John 4:24 says, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth.”
The word “worship” according to Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, comes from the Greek word, “proskuneo” and it is a compound word. “Pros” means “towards” and “kuneo” means “to kiss.”
Some of you will recall the Scripture in Psalm 2 and verses 11 and 12, “Serve the Lord with fear and rejoicing with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry and you be destroyed in your way.”
The Amplified Bible says, “Kiss the Son [pay homage to Him in purity],”
As an assembly of believers, our first intent is to provide an atmosphere of worship unto the true and living God. It’s not about the sound of music in the house. It is not about the praise and worship “experience” that makes a worship service.
In everything that we do, God is to be worshipped. However, the worship service is our weekly celebration of the true and living God through his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and to hear from the teaching and preaching of the Word of God by His appointed man or woman of God. In addition to paying homage or respect to God, we are loving Him. We love Him because He first loved us (see 1 John 4:7-11).
Matthew 22:37 says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.”
Therefore, our total worship is an expression of our heartfelt, genuine love to the Lord.
Expressing our love to the Lord involves everything in us. Our heart, soul, mind and body according to Acts 17:28.
When people that do or do not know the Lord come to your church, do they see that you love the Lord? Is the atmosphere filled with a heartfelt genuine love for God? Can they perceive the love you have for God? If they cannot see that you love the Lord your God, then your worship service is not a real worship service.
Many will see something going on inside the facility but nothing that you do is drawing them to where you are because God doesn’t draw people to a place where He isn’t loved. The Lord will direct people to walk right past your church, walk across the street to the other church, and fill that place up.
If you come to church with a bad attitude towards God, they will see it. If you cannot live holy for God, they will see it. If you have hatred in your heart toward one another, they will see it. They will visit and never return because they cannot sense the love you have for God. God will not bring people into a house that hates and disrespects Him.
2. Prayer and Evangelism
THE PRAYER OF FAITH
Hebrews 11:1 says, Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Verse 6 tells us, “For without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those that diligently seek Him.”
Prayer is useless unless you come to Him with faith in Him and His Word. Even when it comes to worship. We must believe that He is God, the true and living God. The whole basis of faith involves our willingness to take God at His Word and believe that He is “able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think according to the power (faith and His Word) that works within us.” Ephesians 3:20.
THE PRAYER OF PRAISE AND WORSHIP
The Book of Psalm is the Prayer book of the Bible. There are 150 Psalms. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words defines the word “Psalms” as “a striking or twitching with the fingers (on musical strings), then, “a sacred song, sung to musical accompaniment, a psalm.”
So the combination of singing and instruments is used as part of the prayer service of the local church.
While there are several kinds of prayers to pray in the Bible, primarily, part of the worship service involves the use of the Book of Psalms.
Isaiah 56:6-7 says, “Also the sons of the foreigner who join themselves to the LORD, to serve Him, And to love the name of the LORD, to be His servants— Everyone who keeps from defiling the Sabbath, and holds fast My covenant— even them I will bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on My altar; For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.”
While the facility is the place where prayer is to be made, the house that the Lord is referring to is the believer. We are the ones that do the praying, not the building. It is important that you come prepared to pray.
We must always come to praise and worship the Lord for Who He is and not just for what He can do. The things in His hands come after we touch His heart. For He longs to be with His people, to love and fellowship with us. This is the ultimate purpose of why we were created.
The whole premise of worship centers on these two prayers that are primarily in use in the worship service of the church.
Praise and worship and believing that He is God.
We are to pray that the Lord send us (laborers) to work the fields that is ripe for harvest (see Matthew 9:35-38 and John 4:34-38). We are to pray that the Lord draw people to Himself and pray that the Lord would draw us to the sinner to be a witness for Christ.
True numerical growth will only happen when we commit ourselves to be a witness for Christ and lead people to the Lord. The moment we commit ourselves to preach the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to the lost and win them to the Lord, is the moment we will see the kingdom of God expand.
Proverbs 11:30 says, “The fruit of righteousness is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise.”
When the Lord said, “The kingdom of heaven suffers violence, for the violent take it by force.” He didn’t mean faith to believe God for something. He meant that the people grasped the message of repentance to the degree that people violently entered in. They pressed into the kingdom viciously.
The message of repentance grabbed them so badly that they violently and relentlessly pressured the kingdom of heaven to let them in. They got to the gates and the gates couldn’t withstand the assault.
Or, the amount of people that were pressing into the kingdom was overwhelming.
One of the most fascinating things that I have come across in many church growth conferences, books, and blogs is the reduced or lack of believing God in prayer for opportunities to witness. A lack of believing God to draw sinners into the house of worship. The lack of prayer to ask God to draw people to Himself.
The praying is twofold. Pray to go out and get them or to pray that God send them in to the house of worship to get saved.
We trust more in demographics, marketing, and targeting specific people. We trust more in our human ability to put out a product than putting our trust in the living God.
Do not misunderstand what I am saying.
It is important to recognize that as a local church, what you are specifically called to do, and to whom the Lord has assigned you to reach.
However, the moment that we minimize God’s divine influence, is the moment we keep the One Person responsible for bringing the people into the church building and ultimately, His kingdom out of the most important work of the church (see John 6:44, 12:32-33, and 1 Corinthians 3:5-6). The church is the ark of safety. It is a soul saving station. It is God’s house of redemption.
In places like these where prayer is minimized, it only reveals a deeper problem. A clear intentional reluctance to call on the name of the Lord for the lost. A sad lack of prayer to the Lord of heaven and earth.
There must be a balanced combination of the two things in order for results to manifest. We cannot afford to sit and pray all day when the Lord said, “Go, therefore…” And we must not “Go, therefore…” without receiving divine instructions on where to go.
In Luke chapter 5, after the Lord concluded ministering to the people, He told Peter to “Launch out into the deep…and let your nets down for a catch.” Peter told the Lord that he “toiled all night, nevertheless, at your word…” Peter didn’t pray a lick for fish. He gave up fishing after being out in one or several known spots all night long.
But perhaps Peter and the rest of the fishermen left one spot un-searched. Or the Lord withdrew the fish to assemble in the deepest part; undetected until it was time to catch them. Whatever the case may be, the lesson is clear. You cannot catch anything unless you rely on the only Person capable of drawing them to the net to be caught.
The Lord instructed them to go back out.
Three things that need to be shared.
One, it is important to understand that positioning had something to do with it.
Two, obedience, even after working all night long, is essential to receiving the manifestation of your prayers and efforts.
And three, no matter what, do not give up, is the final point. Persistence will pay off after while.
Methods and means will change but you have to be current with what the Spirit of God tells you to do. We do not have to compromise with the world to get God results. The world is competing against God for souls.
When the Lord moves, we must do so at His command. Therefore, do not seek just fill seats. Your church must be prepared to disciple those whom the Lord sends. This is what evangelism is all about.
We must remember that the Lamb of God came to take away the sins of the world. Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins. Jesus came to die for the sins of man. He is the propitiation or appeasing sacrifice, satisfying the just claims of the Most High God.
Man is to be reconciled to God through the blood of the everlasting covenant. God was never in the wrong. All have sinned and come short of the glory of God. However, we were justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
The ultimate reason for the existence of the church is to inform sinners that the price of sin was paid in full by the life, death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. We have victory over sin through the blood of His cross. Evangelism. True evangelism will always remind the sinner of the price the Lord Jesus paid to free us from the power and guilt of sin.
The pain and suffering of Jesus on the cross is what we must remember every single moment of our lives. He endured the cross and despised the shame. The joy that was set before Him caused Him to endure the suffering.
The joy that one day, we would be saved from our sins. The joy of being united in heaven with the Savior. The joy of being with those that made Jesus Lord of their lives. The joy of not being cast into the lake of fire, separated from the presence of the Lord forever.
True evangelism will never exclude the power of the cross.
If we water down this gospel, the true meaning of the gospel is lost or veiled to those that are blind and do not believe. Woe to the church if we fail to preach the cross of Christ.
Every time you go to a funeral or home-going, a soul’s name, written in the Lamb’s book of life is all that matters at the end of the day.
In Part Two we will cover…
3. The Doctrine of Christ. The Apostle’s Doctrine
4. Fellowship Among The Believers
5. Accountability And Stewardship Among Believers
6. Company Of Believers Becoming One In The Temple
7. Meeting The Needs of the Needy