How to Have a Growing Church: Pleasing People vs. Pleasing God

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What we need to remember is that church growth is God’s business, not ours to control. Our commission is to live out the gospel individually and wholeheartedly in community.

I once attended a pastor’s meeting where many of the pastors expressed frustration with the lack of numerical growth in their churches. One pastor in particular said to me, “My feeling is, whatever works, and if it pleases God, that is what I want to do.”

The following is a risky rule of church growth: If it brings people in, it must please God.

I understood his good intentions, but I told him that I couldn’t disagree more. “You know, I don’t want to be nit-picky, but I really have to differ with you,” I said. “It’s not whatever works. It is whatever is pleasing to God. Period.”

Why is that? Because if it’s pleasing to God, it will work.

The most successful church growth plan ever was the one used by the first-century Church. Based on the numbers and the effectiveness, this church had explosive growth and impact that rivals any modern-day congregation. Why were they so successful? Because they knew why they were here and what they were supposed to do.

When we read Acts 2:42-47, we see that the early church didn’t make bigger and better their business. Instead, they focused on five priorities: worship, prayer, evangelism, learning, and loving.

As a result, we read, “And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved”(NKJV). The first church didn’t have a problem with growth, because it focused on honoring His principles, and letting God take care of the growth.

What we need to remember is that church growth is God’s business, not ours to control. Our commission is to live out the gospel individually and wholeheartedly in community.

If we will do that, then, in keeping with God’s will, “the Lord added to the church daily” will become the success story of our church. That is not to say that every pastor will end up with a megachurch, but that he will have a growing one.

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