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Principles Of Church Growth In The Early Church
This article develops the theory of ‘church growth’ alongside evangelism especially in the book of Acts. While the Old Testament portrays the gospel as people coming to God, Lucan’s perspective shows that God’s servants will go to His people. Blauw’s thesis is that “a centripetal gospel becomes in Acts a centrifugal gospel activity…” (1974, 34). In George Orwell’s Animal Farm, the pigs look from pigs to humans and vice versa but they cannot distinguish them in the last page of the text which shows what can happen if the church wants to imitate the world. One cannot replace the methods or processes that brought about the growth of the church in the New Testament in our time.
TYPES OF CHURCH DEVELOPMENT
1. Internal: This is the spiritual development of Christians. A right relationship is established with God and man. Many Christians quote John 3:16 which shows God’s love for man without examining 1 John 3:16 which is based on man’s love for his fellow man.
2. Expansion: This is done through the evangelization of non-Christians within the work area of the church or ministry.
3. Extension: This is the growth of the church through the establishment of daughter churches within the general union and local community.
4. Networking: This focuses on establishing churches in different cultures and regions.
CHURCH DEVELOPMENT : THE WAY TO GROW
1. Human development – the children of the members in the church.
2. Transferring growth- members of one church joining another church.
3. Development of change – coming into the congregation of people of the world who are changed by accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
Definition of the law
Evangelism: Evangelism in the Apostles is the communication of the gospel of Jesus Christ through the proclamation of the word and the testimony of life, with the intention of leading a person or a group to salvation in Christ.
Church Growth: This is the growth and development of the church. It is different from the ‘swelling’ that is common and dangerous in today’s church. The African church is described as a mile wide and an inch deep which means that parameters other than numbers account for church growth. We can also see the development of the church as the application of the principles of the Bible, humanity, and the basis of sex to the churches, denominations and their communities in an effort to make more people for Jesus Christ as disciples. Believing that God’s will is for His Church to grow and His lost children to be found, church growth is trying to develop strategies, develop goals, and apply tried and true growth principles to those each church, denomination and the whole world of Christ.
Church Development Eyes: This is a characteristic of Christians who have achieved the ability to see the possibilities for growth and to use appropriate strategies to gain maximum results for Christ and His church.
Church Development Theory: According to McGavran and Ann, this is “a universal truth that, when properly interpreted and applied, contributes significantly to the growth of churches and religions. It is the truth of God that makes the church spread His Gospel, plant church after church, and take care of yourself” (1977, p.15).
1. Prayer Or Spiritual Warfare
Prayer is not essential for church growth. John Stott says that after the ascension of Jesus, the disciples’ prayers had two characteristics that “are the two essentials of true prayer, namely that they are persistent and have a heart” (1990, 10). The principle of united prayer, or praying with one mind and purpose, is a thread that runs throughout the Acts. The first description of Luke of 120 (1:5) shows that they followed Christ’s command to wait for the Holy Spirit by praying with obedience as a group WITH ONE. Also see 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 Bible, Proverbs 29:18 is translated, “Where there is no generation, the people perish”. Vision is God’s dream of what He wants to do in and through our lives and the lives of our churches. Many churches have vision statements they don’t use. What God blesses with success in one area is not necessarily His plan for any other. Every growing church has a unique sense of vision and purpose – a clear sense of direction. The church planter and the church members share a single vision for what God wants the church to do. Many times, church planters and people can clearly describe and explain their vision. This gives people a sense of direction. They are moving towards a goal. They are not burning already.
A strong growing church is fueled by a strong leader who draws the whole church into action. In order for a church planter to work as a good leader, he must have certain qualities and perform certain leadership responsibilities. A church planter must truly desire growth for the church, and must be willing to pay the price in hard work. A leader must lead the work to set the mission, set goals, develop plans, and mobilize people to achieve success. It must be creative, innovative, and affirming of God’s vision and mission for His work.
4. The identity and importance of the laity
People of this profession 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 people as the church continues to grow or expand.
5. Policy Framework
The idea is to develop ongoing processes that will help achieve the mission of the church. These should move the church toward realizing the fulfillment of its vision. With specific instructions from the Savior, the apostles set a process to reach Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). Nehemiah put his people in good positions. Paul went to the synagogue and then the agora which was both the market place and the center of public life (Acts 7:17). A good church website can help your church grow. Unfortunately, there is an ongoing battle in this technological age: Technophilia vs. Technophobia. There are many Rip Van Wrinkles in modern times. Many church leaders have yet to realize the power of a website for church growth. However a church website, designed specifically to reach outsiders, combined with appropriate external strategies, can be an important key to attracting non-Christians to your church.
6. Livelihood Development Groups
This can be explained as the principle of assimilation. Perhaps the most important aspect of this process is that the church must be organized in a way that creates the organizational basis for growth. The bigger the base, the greater the opportunities for growth. Life development groups provide an important service that helps the development of the church for example Sunday School groups, Youth Fellowship, Ministries (Men, Women, Youth, Children ) and so on.
Paul and Barnabas left the local churches with a leader who would provide guidance after the apostles left. Although the way of church government is different in the New Testament, elders are appointed to continue their leadership work. There are elders in the church (“in each church” Acts 14:23) who complete the traditional process.
8. Open Gospel
In the early church, some considered Christians to be Jews who accepted Jesus as the promised Savior. Therefore, any Gentile who wants to become a Christian must first become a Jew. This ‘closed’ gospel is of particular concern to Christians like Paul. The Jerusalem Council became an important place in the history of the early church. Neither circumcision nor conversion to the Jewish community will be mandatory. Christians today must discover the same spirit in the unbelieving world. Is the gospel open today, or does it carry the burden of cultural expectations, cultural idolatry, etc.? A person should not necessarily become a member of his tribe before becoming a Christian.
The main mission of the church is to win souls. Therefore, we do not treat evangelism as a single process because that is the main work of the church. A similar concept of ‘following’ is important for young Christians.” According to Acts 15:36, “A few days later, Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us go back and visit our brothers in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord. , and see how they do.” Following him can be considered a mother’s secret.
According to John Wesley, leading souls to Christ without discipleship is to beget sons for the devil. The growth of the church increases when each part becomes part of the body (Eph. 4:16; Romans 12:3-8; 1 Cor. 12:12-22 and so on. What we have learned must be commitment to the faithful to teach others as well. The importance of Bible Study, Sunday School Classes etc. cannot be overemphasized.
11. Supreme Authority of God
Despite the many conflicts and disappointments in the early church, Luke clearly states that God is the ultimate victor. Acts, in a sense, is the unfolding of God’s sovereign activity amidst external and internal forces that would prevent any ‘normal’ movement. Although we are the vehicles to tell the Gospel, our strength and power comes from God. He gives growth after ‘planting and watering, He makes everything beautiful. He did not work in our time, but in His time. One sows, another another, but it is God who increases. Clay had no doubts about the Potter’s intentions.
List of references
Blauw, J. The Evangelical Nature of the Church. Grand Rapids: Eardmans, 1974.
McGavran Donald A. and Winfield C. Arn. Ten Steps for Church Growth. New York: Harper and Row, 1977.
Stott, John. Me, the Church and the World. Downers Grove, Illinois: Inter Varsity, 1990.
Wagner, Peter C., ed. Church Growth: State of the Art. Wheaton: Tyndale House, 1986.
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