You’ll probably like this:
— Juan Carlos (@jcpe) August 17, 2016
At the last preacher’s meeting in Effingham, Stephen Bradd shared with us a remark to this effect: “The elders have determined they would not spend more time in meetings than they do in visiting.” I was impressed by that remark. This sentiment was expressed by elders of a congregation and how they were able to make a positive contribution to their local growth. I don’t know that I have it exactly correct, but the sense of it is rather clear just the same.
The elders of the congregation are to be men who “smell like sheep” (to borrow a phrase). They are men who are to know the flock in order to lead them spiritually and emotionally. When the elders spend more time in meetings than in leading and sharing can growth really occur? I wonder.
When James A. Garfield was president of Hiram College, a man brought his son for entrance as a student, for whom he wished a shorter course than the regular. “The boy can never take all that in,” said the father. “He wants to get through quicker. Can you arrange it for him?”
Mr. Garfield, a minister-educator said, “Oh, yes. He can take a short course; it all depends on what you want to make of him. When God wants to make an oak, He takes a hundred years, but he takes only two months to make a squash.”
Many want instant spirituality-like instant coffee or potatoes! It doesn’t come that way! There are no short courses! No short-cuts! No gimmicks! It takes time to grow! Growth is a sequence-an orderly arrangement! “For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again” was God’s indictment of the Hebrew Christians (Heb 5:12-14).
[Unfortunately, I do not have the source for this illustration listed in my files, or I would give proper credit. -ccd]
Beginning in Mark 4:26, there are two parables, or similitudes of the kingdom.
There are four components of the first similitude.
The second similitude describes the planting and growth of the mustard tree. As in the earlier lesson, the seed must be sown. Seed that remains in the sack does not germinate. Also in Mark 4 is the “Parable of the Sower” which teaches the seed is the word of God that must be sown.
The mustard seed is extremely small, yet the tree that comes from it is extremely large. In the same way so is the church. It starts out small, but can grow.
The produce of the tree has one predominant use: to provide seasoning. The church also has one predominant purpose: to glorify God by bringing forth sons and daughters (Hebrews 2:10).
The mustard tree’s branches house birds and animals. The church houses and protects all who obey the gospel and live faithful lives.
Acts 2:41 and Acts 4:4 would be good examples of ecclesiological hypertrophy.
As Ron pointed out in his post, the principle for spiritual growth in the body of Christ is found in Ephesians 4:11-16. The key verses being vs. 15 & 16. We can only “grow up” into Christ when we “speak the truth in love” (vs. 15) and by the “effective working by which every part does its share” (vs. 16 – NKJV). The key word is the word “work” (vs. 12) and “working” (vs. 16). Note Nehemiah 4:6.
Bottom line: No work, no growth.
I always knew Randal to be smart. I had no idea of the existence of the terminology, much less its meaning, until I grabbed my dictionary.
Where is there exaggerated growth (or emphasis) in the church (at least this is how I understand the terminology)? The only way I would know how to answer this question is in numerical associations. I hear (or have heard) such things as the following:
-Let us build a building, and then people will come.
-Let us meet in homes Sunday evening rather than the building, and then people will come.
-Let us not preach on negative things, and then people will come.
-Let us emphasize love, and then people will come.
-Let us use power point (visual) presentations, and then people will come.
An unfair exaggeration? Probably, but it is something I have noticed. Consequently, I have been putting a great deal of emphasis on the “duty” of the preacher as revealed in Scripture in my own personal reading; am I insecure in doing this? I do not feel that I am, but I sure want to place the right priority on that which the Lord places priority.
In my local effort, I have put emphasis upon the sentiment of Ephesians 4:11-16. As I judge the development of my effort (coupled with that of others), I would like to think progress is being made.
What is distinctive about our congregation? Well, I think the most noticeable from first glance is that we have different races loving, hugging and worshiping in harmony. Most of our congregation is Black, with Whites and Hispanics in the mix.
Another unique aspect is that we have a high number of men. It is extraordinary in that many of them will preach and some could easily step into full-time ministry, if they chose. Almost all of our men will lead singing and serve in worship. They are a joy to serve with.
We also have a group of Sisters who are growing and working together. We are proud of their efforts.
The Lord is blessing us in Allenhurst, Georgia.