Is church growth an exact science? Is improved methodology always the key to bigger churches and more effective evangelism? There are plenty of evangelical experts who would answer yes to both of those questions—either in word or in deed.
John MacArthur has encountered this phenomenon for decades.
We hear so much these days about church growth. And there are many offerings to us about how we can grow a church. There are conferences on church growth, books on church growth, and seminars.
It’s endless on how to grow a church. And we have to keep reminding ourselves that Jesus said, “I will build My church.” . . . Years ago, somebody asked me, “Do you have a desire to build a church?” I said, “No, I’d rather not compete with Jesus Christ. I’m not in the business of competing with Him.” He will build His church. All I want to find out is, what does Scripture say is the means that He uses to build His church? and then I want to follow in line with that revelation.
Jesus is the One who builds His church (Matthew 16:18). Christ never said He would share or delegate that responsibility. He didn’t ask His disciples to use whatever means possible to increase the population of His kingdom. He called them to preach His message and remain faithful in that calling.
John MacArthur’s sermon “God’s Strategy for Church Growth” is his biblically-driven response to the modern champions of church growth methods. John’s message takes his audience on a tour through the book of Acts and provides an up-close encounter with God’s sovereign control over the growth of His church.
It’s the story of the church. The church really comes into existence in the second chapter of Acts with 120 people, and then it begins to grow. And the book of Acts is the primary and initial account of the fulfillment of our Lord’s words, “I will build My church.” We come immediately from those words into the book of Acts, and we find out exactly how the church is built. . . .
This is the church growing under the power of Christ through His Spirit. This is exactly how the Lord builds His church. And anybody who’s in the church needs to understand this, particularly if you’re a leader in the church. It is the Lord building His church.
From Acts 2 to Acts 28, John marks out a clear, divine trail of God gathering His chosen people into His church. He then uses the latter half of his message to draw on the same chapters and identify four unmistakable characteristics of a church grown by God. And they all hinge on fidelity to His message and the purity of His people.
There are no techniques given here. There are no methodologies given. But there are spiritual disciplines, spiritual realities on which the church grows. These we must know if we’re going to be leading the church, even if we’re going to be in the church. And we have to have the discernment to recognize artificial, false efforts to make the church grow by the power and wisdom and cleverness of men. It is a work of the Lord. The Father’s involved, the Son is involved, and the Spirit is involved. The triune God is growing the church.
It’s frightening to think that the “church growth” juggernaut has evolved into a massive religious industry that includes seminaries, publishing houses, conferences, and large mission organizations.
But even for those of us who don’t embrace modern church growth methods, we can easily fall into the same pattern of thinking whenever we try to make the church and the gospel more attractive. We must not get ahead of ourselves and go beyond what God has called us to do. To that end, John MacArthur’s message is a timely reminder of our role in the furthering of the gospel and God’s exclusive work in gathering His people.
Click here to watch or listen to “God’s Strategy for Church Growth.”