This is a common goal of churches. We long for our congregations to grow and for the universal Kingdom of Christ to expand. I read multiple books each year that offer advice on growing the church. Most of them will state that their research and experience is not a formula, but that there are certain common factors in growing churches. Recently, I decided to go the earliest book that reported the growth of churches and the church universal. I reread the book of Acts.
A quick survey of the book of Acts and you quickly realize that the early church grew. No they increased, make that multiplied. After looking at the early chapters and the growth of the church in Acts 2:41, 47; Acts 4:4; Acts 5:14; Acts 6:1, 7; and Acts 8:4 we move on to the verse that is key to their growth:
Acts 9:31, “And the church in Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.”
There it is! The is a simple Biblical formula that made growth possible.
- They had peace. Not peace with Judaism. Not peace with Rome. Not peace with the world. Definitely not peace with Satan. But peace with God through Christ and therefore with each other.
- They were being built up. Encouraged, edified, taught by God’s word and by each other’s example.
- They walked in fear of God. Yes, fear! Fear: as in reverence and awe as well as fear as in “this is Creator who spoke the world into existence and who caused the immediate death of two who lied to His Spirit (cf. Acts 5).”
- They walked in the comfort of the Holy Spirit. They had the promise of Acts 2:38-40. They understood the seal of guarantee that Paul talks of in Ephesians 1:13-14. Their spirit in tune with His produced the fruit of Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.
- All this lead to the final words of this verse “it MULTIPLIED.”
How is the church growing where you are? Are you part of the problem or the solution?