By Kola S. Ajibola
1) Growth is the process of growing physically, mentally or emotionally; increase in size, amount or degree of something (Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary).
2) The word growth in the New Testament occurred in two main ways, namely:
a. Numerically - Acts 2:41, 47; 4:4; etc;
b. Spiritually - 2 Peter 3:18; Acts 17:11.
3) From the very day of church establishment, the Lord's church erupted like a blast of dynamite in the first century - Acts 2:41; 4:4; 5:14; 8:1, 4.
4) The church was dynamic, spiritual militant force that it was referred to as those who had:
a. "turned the world upside down" - Acts 17:6;
b. they were "everywhere spoken against" - Acts 28:22.
II. The Growth: - Acts 2:41, 47; 4:4; 5:14; 6:1; 6:7; 12:24; 16:5; 19:20
Within 30 years of its existence, Paul could say that the gospel had come to all the world - Colossians 1:5-6, 23. The gospel spread in the following order with respect to the command of Christ to the Apostles in Acts 1:8:
· Jerusalem- - - - Acts 2-6
· Samaria - - - - Acts 8
· Caesarea - - - Acts 10
· Antioch of Syria - - - Acts 11: 19-21
· Paphos and Antioch of Pisidia - Acts 13: 6-49
· Iconium/Lystra - - - Acts 14: 1-23
· Philippi - - - - Acts 16:12-40
· Thessalonica, Bereans, Athens - Acts 17: 1-34
· Corinthians - - - Acts 18: 1-11
III. The Growth is always a result of:
1. Spreading (planting- Paul planted, I Corinthians 3:6) the seeds -Luke 8:11
· to/for others as commanded - Mark 16:15; 2 Timothy 4:1-2. Illustration: Acts 5:42 and 8:4.
· parable of sower - Mark 4:1-8. Wayside, stony, thorny, good ground
· the increase comes from God - I Corinthians 3:6-7; 2 Corinthians 9:10-11.
· the power is not in those who preaches BUT in the Word - Romans 1:16; Hebrews 4:12; I Corinthians 1:21-25.
2. Irrigating (Follow-up) - "Apollos watered" - I Corinthians 3:6
3. God giving the increase - I Corinthians 3:6-7. "So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase ." (KJV)
IV. Lessons to be Learnt
THE EARLY CHURCH GREW BECAUSE MEMBERS:
a a) trusted in the one true God - I Timothy 4:1; 6:17. The church did not compromise with false (humanly originated) religions - Galatians 1:6-12.
b) trusted in the one true Son of God (Jesus Christ) and refuse to compromise with pagan views of saviours - Matthew 24:5, 24. The church preached Christ crucified - I Corinthians 2:2 as the only saviour - Acts 4:12.
c) did not observed the worldly methods and gimmicks but they had abiding faith in the power of the gospel - Romans 1:15-17; Hebrews 4:12.
d) preached without fear or favour to anyone - Mark 16:15-16; Acts 4:18-20; Colossians 1:23; Acts 5:27-29; Acts 20:25-27; Romans 10:18; Colossians 1:23.
e) preached the gospel as commanded by Christ - Ephesians 4:4-6. They did what Christ instructed them to do without any deviation. They preached with faithfulness and zeal;
f) defended the truth with fear and favour;
g) lived lives of dedication to Christ with all their being. They knew their lives had to be
· "worthy of the gospel of Christ" - Philippians 1:27;
· lights in the world of darkness - Matthew 5:13-16; Philippians 2:15-17;
· willing to sacrifice everything for Christ - Luke 14:26-33; Luke 9:23; Revelation 2:10.
h) were disciplined - Acts 5:14. An effort to keep the church pure has tendency to increase its membership.
i) have love of the brethren - Acts 2:42-44;
j) j) respected the word and obeyed it - Jude 3; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Galatians 1:8-9; 2 John 9;
k) respected the divine authority in worship, work, organization and purity of life - Acts 2:42, 47.
Thousands were added to the Lord's church soon after it was established -Acts 2:41; Acts 4:4; because its members
V. The Key to church growth:
The members must be motivated to reach out by:
- · generating contacts - Luke 14:23; Acts 8:4;
- · cultivating studies - John 4:7-42;
- · convicting studies - Acts 24:25;
- · grounding studies - Matthew 28:18;
- · training themselves to train others - 2 Timothy 2:2.
- Considering the church at Jerusalem, we noticed that it was:
- a worshipping church - Acts 2:42;
- a reverence church - Acts 2:43;`
- an unselfish church - Acts 2:44, 45;
- a happy church - Acts 2:46, 47;
- a sharing church - Acts 2:46, 47.
- The growth experienced by the early church can be experienced the Lord's church today if the church today can follow the pattern established by the early church by following Christ's commands.
- The growth was as a result of planting, watering and God giving the increase. Men must do their part while God has promised to bless the effort of saints.
- How serious are we with the business of preaching the gospel to all?
- Can we say with all honesty that we have done our very best?
- God want us to repent and do His will always.
- Thank you, may God continue to bless His church and children, Amen.
P. O. Box 35478, Agodi Gate, Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria. +234-805-604-8209,