You’ll probably like this:
— Juan Carlos Piñeiro (@jcpe) August 17, 2016
You’ll probably like this:
— Juan Carlos Piñeiro (@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.
From BeliefNet News, comes some interesting stats regarding the slow growth (or the lack thereof) of several listed denominations. I’m wondering what the churches of Christ stats might be?
When I have to lean on and depend on Him the most. There have been times in my life when I have had to put Prov. 3:5-6 into practice. When I have struggled to understand myself when I was younger. When we lost our first grandchild within 24 hrs. after he was born due to reversed heart valves. When no human could answer or help. Like Randal, there have been moments in my life when I was at the end of my rope. Time and space would not allow me to relate the number of times in my life when I have had to put all, and I mean all my trust and faith in Him. I certainly do not want to grow spiritually that way, but I did. My growth today comes from Bible study and prayer which I look forward to every morning.
We’ve talked before what spirituality is, so maybe because of that nobody has given attention on this question to define spiritual growth. But before I add my two bits to the question, “When do you grow the most spiritually?”, I’d like to put in a short description of spiritual growth as growing closer to God. I think it was Richard who touched on it in his response.
Mountain-top experiences have been wonderful, but few and far between. In those, I’ve felt close to God, but I’m not sure the emotion actually corresponded to a greater proximity to the Lord. May have, but can’t say.
Two other moments, and some of these have already been touched on in the excellent replies already given by the Fellows.
One, is when I was at the end of my rope. There have been in my life several moments of rope-ends. One was a deep depression I went through many years ago. I have some of my journal and prayers from that period, and I see the despair of a man who throws himself upon the Lord.
Another is the imperceptible day-to-day routine of going about my business and working for the Lord. It’s stone upon stone, brick on brick, that raises the walls and builds the house. Yes, there are the peaks and the valleys that we all walk through. But the routine of getting up in the morning, doing my task, for better or for worse, going through those seemingly mindless and repetitive motions that so many despise, these are the stuff of life, these are the tiny movements that inch me closer to the Lord. Be it the reading from Scripture, the morning prayer, the word with wife and children, the task of writing, visiting, edifying or teaching, the hidden preparation for ministry, the teaching of yet another Bible class to a pagan, the greeting today that shows me to be the same person I was yesterday and the day before — these are the steps that bring me ever closer to the image of Christ, the face of God and the fellowship of the Spirit.
I was once made very angry and I had to grow to learn patience and forgiveness.
I was once slandered and I had to grow to learn that living right and doing right is the best answer to the lies of others.
I occasionally find myself ignored or forgotten and I have to grow in my humility.
From time to time I fail, and I have to grow beyond my failures to try again. As often as I sin, I am reminded I still need to repent. I still marvel at the grace of God.
Like Paul I have times of abundance and times of suffering need, and I am learning to depend upon the mercy of One greater than myself to provide what I cannot do for myself. I grow most when I lean upon the Lord’s strength. He strengthens me. What a treasure to have the power of God available for the asking!
I am often so ignorant, but the Word informs me and enlightens me to see what I have never seen before.
God molds and shapes us positively in wonderful ways through friends, through the Word, and through prayer. God also uses the events of our lives, both positive and negative, to help us understand the practical messages of the Word. He grows us from the inside and from without. He shapes and molds us, equips us, and prepares us for great things. God is so good to us, even when our growth comes with pain.
There is much that is good, much that needs repentance, and much that needs help.
I am well aware of the progressives who are fast moving to evangelical fluff. And I am well aware of the neo-antis who seem stuck in traditions of their own making and trying to enforce them on everyone else. These groups are failing and losing their children in large numbers to the world. The progressives are losing 60 percent of their children to the religious world, and the neo-antis are losing 60 percent to non-participation.
The mainstream is, however, producing well. They evangelize with love, care for the hurting, reach out to the lost, and train their children. They keep most of their kids faithful to the Lord.
We have numerous neighborhood churches and small town churches graying and dying. We will lose some congregations in the coming decades.
I’ve seen many churches with lots of older folks and lots of young families, but the middle aged folks seem to have jumped ship.
I’m seeing schools of preaching pop up in many locations. If you haven’t checked out what they are doing, I think you’d be surprised. They are producing more pulpit preachers than our universities at this point. A school in Marietta, GA, now has several branches and 400 students! This school is only about ten years old!!!
I know of five or six new schools of preaching popping up–there is a new one in Oklahoma City this fall.
I have traveled much in the last 18 months, and the churches that are growing–without exception–are among the mainstream. They are healthy, loving, working, and devoted to the truth. God will bless such congregations with increase.
A few progressive churches are swelling but most have seriously declined in the last five years. I know of several that are only a fraction of they had been.
I believe we are winning this war of ideology. Once progressives reveal what they actually believe and want to do, they cease to attract as they once did. Exposing Satan is the most effective first step in defeating him.
God prunes his vine from time to time so that it may grow. I think we are growing through just such a time. We hate the loss and love all our brotherhood, but separation from those who will not do what is right is not evil (1 Cor. 11:18-19). God prunes so that the vine may remain healthy and produce more fruit.
Let us hold fast to that which we have been taught and not be fooled by the philosophies of men (Col. 2:6-8). Let us grow in grace and knowledge (2 Peter 3:18). And let us abound in the work of the Lord, filled with love for the Father and for the lost (1 Cor. 15:58).
Kevin W. Rhodes writes in his last blog post, “The Learning Curve:”
One of the more frustrating situations people can encounter when they become Christians is the feeling that they are so far behind everyone else in biblical knowledge, understanding, application, and just life itself. Whether this is accurate or not depends on a whole lot of factors—age, background, and upbringing among them—but where you are when you begin your walk with Christ does not really matter that much. Everyone must begin somewhere and sometime in order to have a relationship with God. Therefore, it is more important that you recognize the value in beginning and persevering than worrying about how much you have to learn.
His site doesn’t provide the usual page links, but you can read the rest by clicking HERE, then clicking on the link, “From Faith to Faith.” This post will be at or near the top. Worth your time.
Today presents a new milestone in the growth of the Purcellville congregation: today our first full time preacher begins his work with us. Donnie Vick joins us as a recent graduate of MSOP. It has long been our dream to have a brother dedicated to the full time preaching of the gospel in Purcellville, and that dream is now a reality. Please pray for Donnie’s work with us as we strive to evangelize the surrounding community.