by Wayne Miller
We must face, with enthusiasm, the challenge and the excitement to evangelize the lost. Certainly this is a clear biblical command! The Great Commission of Jesus Christ found in Matt. 28:18-20 and Mark 16:15-16 is not a suggestion, not a recommendation, but is a charge or a command. Our mandate is not, “Let’s hold down the fort or to hold our own.” It is, “Onward Christian soldiers. Go and make disciples!”
The fact is that God remains as alive and powerful as He has ever been in the history of the world. There has never been a greater day, a greater time to preach the saving message of Jesus than presently. Unfortunately, the devil has done a really good job in putting us on the defensive, finding excuses, perhaps even justification in our own minds, created doubts of why we cannot do GREAT things with and for God.
What we must do is get actively on the offensive with God. Reason being, He makes everything possible and God has not changed (Heb. 13:8). What He did in the first century is empower people (salvation), they became a part of His body, the church, with changed lives. The result was, the church grew—from additions to multiplication, to multitudes!
Brethren, we must realize and fully believe the church is the hope of the world. Only the church preaches the good news of and about Jesus. The bottom-line message of the church is Jesus can truly transform lives, change hearts, bless our marriages, and homes. The government can help meet the physical and some emotional needs of people, and education can obviously help people develop skills to make a living, but only Jesus can CHANGE the eternal destination of souls.
The message of salvation has not changed. The Gospel continues to be the “power of God unto salvation unto everyone who believes” (Rom. 1:16). We today, like the church in the first century, must “continue it the apostles’ doctrine” (Acts 2:42). Honestly, our methods basically have not changed. The way we share the wonderful news in God’s word may change—screens, video, DVD—but the basic method is still one person telling another person about the goodness, love, hope, forgiveness, and grace of God that is demonstrated through Jesus Christ.
The Hebrew writer gave Christians multiple warnings to “beware, take heed, or be careful” (Heb. 3:12; 4:1, 14, 16). When we discuss the topic of church growth, unfortunately there are some dangers associated with this command from Jesus.
God’s solution to the dangers can be found in Eph. 4:15. The principle is in the context of unity, spiritual maturity, and building up of the church (vv. 11-16). For churches to avoid dangers, the key is: preach TRUTH in LOVE! This is the balance necessary to avoid extremes and dangers in church growth. About 28 years ago, I had an elderly preacher share with m, what he believed to be a key word for my ministry. Thankfully, he shared the word BALANCE! He informed me, based on his many years of study and experience, if you will find balance in life, preaching, ministry, etc., your life and work in the kingdom will be what God intends. Wow—what great advice, a mustard seed, which has been a blessing for all these years.
The word of God is crystal clear about this balance to avoid dangers. Jesus is the embodiment of truth (John 14:6). It is the objective truth (Jude 3) that sets folks free from the dominion and consequences of sin (John 8:32), it is the means through which people find sanctification (John 17:17). This instills hope in the hearts and the lives of the redeemed (1 Pet. 1:3-5).
Balancing the truth with love demonstrates the care, concern, and compassion of Jesus. This sounds forth the thought of “hate the sin, but love the sinner!” When we follow the steps and ministry of Jesus we see this model in action.
Both, truth and love, are absolutely necessary in church growth. The danger of being so hard, harsh, overly judgmental will be avoided with love. On the other hand, danger of growing with no sustenance, substance is prevented in the principle of truth.
The remedy for dangers in church, whatever they may be, is truly hinged upon having the mind of Christ (Phil. 2:1-5). Remember, we are not here to fail; we are here to prevail!
Wayne Miller preaches for the Maple Hill congregation in Lebanon, Tennessee. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.