often have we heard, “At the _______ church we are not so
concerned with numerical growth as we are with spiritual
growth”? The fact is, we need to be concerned about numerical
growth because numerical growth in a God fearing, God following,
Bible teaching church means more souls snatched from hell and
going to heaven. There are two reasons this catch phrase of
non-growth is given. Neither
is valid. The first reason is the phrase offers a comfortable
cop-out for a lack of souls being added to the Lord’s church. It
makes people feel better if they can convince themselves that
growing spiritually, not numerically, is really what God wants.
God wants both spiritual and numerical growth. Where true
spiritual growth is taking place, numerical growth will also take
place. The other reason people give this excuse for non-growth is
a misconception about what is essential to church growth. Many
have the mistaken notion that a church must do unscriptural things
in order to get numerical growth. Therefore, they make this
statement nobly meaning they are not willing to compromise truth
in order to get numbers. This is a worthy stance. We must never
compromise truth in order to get numbers. But this stance is
mistaken. We do not have to compromise truth in order to save
souls. Tonight, I want to explain what “church growth experts”
claim the essentials are for growing churches. My purpose tonight
is not to teach us to follow after the advice of men. Rather, it
is to demonstrate that those men who have examined churches that
grow have found these similar practices in each. It stands to
reason if we do these things, we will grow. But above all, I want
you to notice that we do not have to compromise truth to have any
of these essentials for growth today. As we look at these 9
essentials, I want you to note that church growth is not about
food, fun or family life centers.
We must teach from the
The experts claim that on a practical level this is the
number one thing a church must do if it will grow.
Granted, because most people are ignorant of the what the
Bible says, they are not always discerning about whether or not
what is said is really what the Bible means. But they want to be a
part of a church that is teaching from the Bible.
If denominational churches can grow with merely the
appearance of teaching what the Bible says. How much more can we
grow when really teaching what the Bible says. II
Timothy 3:16-17 says scripture is all we need to perform every
good work. It follows that scripture is what we need for growth.
We must maintain high standards of commitment.
Jesus commands His disciples to put Him first (Luke
9:23). Without this commitment in their members churches will
Many people believe teaching this high standard of
commitment hinders growth because it scares people off. The
experts have observed that churches who have high standards grow,
the others are slacking off.
Logic demands this. A church that does not emphasize
commitment may surge at the beginning, but members quickly realize
they do not have to do anything and eventually they are not even
attending. Some churches continue to keep these non-committed
members on their roles to pad their numbers, but their church is
declining not growing, no matter how they pad those numbers.
On the other hand, churches that have high standards of
commitment work at training their members to be committed. They
may scare some off, but those who stay grow and work, producing
We must maintain high standards of morality.
Peter taught that moral behavior converts people to Christ
(I Peter 2:11-12).
As with high standards of commitment, many Christians are
afraid if they stress the Bible’s moral teaching they will scare
people away. The “experts” have observed that churches with
high moral standards grow more than those with weak standards.
Again, logic bears up this essential. Churches with weak
moral teaching may surge initially with morally weak members.
However, as time goes by they will lose those members to sinful
living. Churches which stress high standards of morality train
their members to abstain from these sins.
We must convince every member they are needed.
Paul said every member was needed in Ephesians
4:14-16. The church only grows by the work which “every
joint” supplies. Consider what this means about the strength of
this congregation. Your strength as a group is equal to the sum of
your individual strengths. For this church to reach its growth
potential you have to see the church’s need for you as an
individual to work and grow.
When members feel needed they work harder. If they feel
unimportant, they leave. You must understand that you are
necessary for this church to reach its potential. You are needed.
We must increase love and warmth among the brethren.
Jesus said the world would know we were His disciples if we
have love for one another (John
This is one of our greatest evangelistic tools. People want
to be loved. If the community around you can see that true love
for one another exists in this congregation, they will want to be
a part of it. If they see hatred and back-biting, they will not
want to come here. After all, they can get hatred in the world.
We must have enthusiastic Bible classes.
The biggest religious change group in America today is
young families with children. Enthusiastic Bible classes appeal to
these families who desire high standards of morality and
commitment to God for their children, even if they have not had
morality or commitment. If we are not concerned about our Bible
classes, we are missing our greatest opportunity for evangelistic
Allow me to make some short statements regarding objections
I have heard to focusing on Bible classes as a means of growth.
First, focusing on Bible classes is not the “church of
Christ” answer to Family Life Centers and youth groups in
denominations. If done biblically, it is nothing more than
teaching the Gospel effectively.
Secondly, focusing on Bible classes is not handing over the
parent’s responsibility of teaching their children to the
church. If done properly, the Bible class is merely a supplement
to the parent’s own teaching at home. The problem here is not
that churches have taken over the parents’ roles. Rather, it is
that too many parents just aren’t doing their job. The church
having Bible classes is no more usurping the parents’ job to
teach their children than it is usurping the individual
Christian’s job to study on his own or teach his friends.
Thirdly, allow me to make three positive statements on
behalf of strengthening your Bible classes for children and
adults. First, it is one of the most effective ways to produce
spiritual growth in the congregation. Secondly, it is one of the
most effective ways to reach out to lost parents who are concerned
about their children. Thirdly, it is one of the most effective
ways to prepare innocent children for overcoming the moral
corruption they will inevitably reach if they live long enough.
I Timothy 4:13 says we should give
attention to public teaching. It will help us grow.
We must have good calm, steady leadership.
God gave qualifications for the eldership (I
Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9) because the leadership of a
congregation must be grounded in the truth, committed to work, and
able to work with one another in a loving manner.
If they are not, the church will be in constant turmoil.
With bad leadership, the church will not only cease to grow, but
will suffer loss and eventually die.
The leaders are the ones who must look into the future and
see where the church needs to go. Then they take the church there,
leading the way. This plan only works when the leadership is
stable and steady.
We must portray our worship as special.
People do not want to be part of the ordinary. They can get
that anywhere. They want to be part of something special. Isn’t
that what our worship is? Is not our worship special? We are
gathering together in the presence of the Almighty God. We must
grasp the specialness of that event.
If we do not grasp the specialness of what we are doing
here and communicate it to others, we will never grow to our
Regrettably, many churches feel they must cut back on
worship to attract people. Cut out songs, prayers and sermon time.
This portrays a lack of value in our worship. Remember, if we
demonstrate to our friends that we do not think our worship is
important and special, why should they think it is?
We must have an evangelistic method that produces results.
Jesus gave the great commission, “Go, therefore, and make
disciples of all nations …” (Matthew
Do you have a method or a plan for making disciples? Or do
you just kind of hope someone will drop in and it will
accidentally happen? Making contact is not enough. You must
formulate a plan to make them a disciple. Over time, your plan may
change to be more effective, but you must have a plan.
None of these essentials are unscriptural. We cannot make
the claim that we are not growing numerically because we will not
compromise the truth. The simple truth is, we must do the same
things to get numerical growth that we do to get spiritual growth.
We must be committed to God, obey His word and teach others.
Commit yourself to do things necessary to grow; not because you
want a big church, but because you want to save souls.
to God in the church by Christ Jesus
Church of Christ