bits from bob....
The church is constantly challenged to build. Solomon wrote, "There is a time to break down, a time to build up." We are not talking about bricks and mortar and building projects. We are talking about laying building blocks for the spiritual life in every season of life. Always the church must be concerned about growth. Most churches focus on numerical growth-"Is this church growing bigger?" Loren Mead (More than Numbers: The Way Churches Grow, 1993) says effective churches also focus on maturational, organic, and incarnational growth. Maturation asks about spiritual maturity-"Is this church growing up?" Organic growth asks about the organization, structure and capability of the body-"Is this church growing stronger?" Incarnational growth asks about becoming like Jesus-"Is this church growing better?" The foundation is always Christ (1 Cor. 3:11). The responsibility of building on the foundation is ours.
Thinking about different ways the church grows can help us meet the challenge before us. This may or may not be a time of significant numerical growth, but the church can always experience growth. Think with me about three ways this church should grow in coming months.
First, we can seek to grow up-to mature. This happens most easily through relational growth. We mature when we are around other Christians, experiencing life in the body of Christ, supported by and encouraged by others. When we establish and cultivate meaningful relationships in the body through Bible classes, shared worship assemblies, and fellowship activities, we grow toward maturity. When we strengthen spiritual relationships and share prayer and study in our families, we are growing up. This is not a time to let up or let down. This is a time to grow up and mature.
This church can grow stronger. Internal growth is measured in leadership growth, growth in effective ministry, and body growth-incorporating all members in the activity of the body and providing strength and encouragement for the task. Another aspect of internal growth is growth in understanding-especially in self-understanding and self-identity. Internal growth makes the church more capable.
Finally, we must become better. This refers to spiritual growth. One task of leaders is to equip members so they can grow into the stature of Christ, becoming more and more like Him (Eph. 4:11-13). Peter's summary is a challenge to growth in grace and knowledge (2 Pet. 3:18). I grow incarnationally when I become more like Christ.
Will you join me in a commitment to growth? I will grow up, grow more capable, and grow better. As a result this church will grow up, become more capable, and become better. This church will also grow bigger when Christ obviously dwells within us. Trust me-it's God's plan!
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