Tuesday, September 29, 2009

God's Strategy for Church Growth

Last Sunday's message weighed so heavily on my heart, that I decided to summarize it in IBC's newsletter for October. Since I no longer use a typed manuscript for my sermons (I'm still not sure which way is best!), the text of my sermons on Ephesians have not appeared here on the blog. Some of you have asked for them, and I simply don't have the time to transcribe them after the fact. Who knows? Maybe in the future I will return to typed manuscripts again? Or perhaps one of my blog readers (either of the two of you) will volunteer to transcribe my sermons for the blog? (How do you spell "uh"?). But anyway, I digress. I summarized the main points of last Sunday's sermon in this brief article for our newsletter, and thought I'd share it here ...
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On a recent Sunday, I spoke about "God's Church Growth Strategy" from Ephesians 4:7-16. There are many opinions about how to grow a church but God has only one way, and I believe it is contained in this passage. The first thing we notice in this passage is that God has graciously given gifts to His people. Every Christian has been indwelt by the Holy Spirit (if that person is truly born-again), and the Spirit manifests Himself through us in ways that help one another grow in spiritual maturity (see 1 Cor. 12:7). These various gifts I call "blood-bought," for Jesus has provided them to His people as a result of His incarnation, death, and resurrection. We also notice in the passage that God has given spiritual leaders to the church to equip His people for service in the church through their gifts. Specifically, in the time in which we live, the passage speaks of the Pastor-Teacher (or teaching-pastor). Though many of us have ideas about the role of the pastor, this is the clearest statement in the New Testament about his role. According to Hebrews 13:17, the pastor will give account to Jesus for the spiritual condition of those to whom he ministers, therefore his primary task is to labor in word and doctrine so that the people are fed by the Word of God and equipped to exercise their gifts in the service of Christ and His church (see also 2 Tim. 5:17). Finally, this passage teaches us that when pastors shepherd the saints with the Word, and the people exercise their gifts, the body (or church) is built up from the inside out. So, how does one discover and develop his or her spiritual gifts? It happens in a context of relationships and service. As meaningful relationships are developed within the church and we begin to serve wherever there is opportunity, our brothers and sisters will "speak the truth in love" to us about how God is at work through us for the benefit of one another. As we hear the Word preached in worship and study the Scriptures for ourselves daily, we are not just encountering "empty words." These words are like a whetstone sharpening us for service. We should be reading and listening intently to discover how we may better use the gifts Christ has given us for the good of all. If we think we have nothing to offer one another in the congregation, then we take for granted what Christ has done for us, we ignore the Spirit's power at work in us, and we deny the truth of God's Word. So, I pray that each of us will begin to prayerfully seek areas that we may serve the Lord and His people in the church, and that as a result we will see God work mightily through our church for His glory. If I may serve you by helping you discover or develop your spiritual gifts, please contact me.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Man of God, May His anointing upon your life never run dry. Great insight on this subject of church growth and its relationship with the discovery of God's gift within us. Thank you so much and God Bless

Chigozie Nwachukwu