This concept of Christ building his church should be remembered today. Many churches have wrongly thought that they are responsible for growing the church much like a company would market its product to cause the company to grow. The end result of such thinking is that creative marketing and programs that are appealing to people, especially the lost, are the key to growing a church. This is simply not true. I have often said that if this time next year many hundreds of people more are part of Oak Crest, yet we can point to some “creative” thing we did for those people to be at Oak Crest, rather than the simple preaching of the gospel, we have not built a church but merely a crowd. The way a church grows to the glory of God is by doing those things God has called us to do namely, worshiping God, preaching the word, praying and covenanting together in obedience to God.
This brings us to the second crucial key of church growth. Growth in the church is not limited to larger numbers. Certainly we pray to see people saved and added to the number of Christ’s church, but that is only the tip of the iceberg in relation to growth. In fact, as we read the New Testament the kind of growth that the disciples consistently speak of is growth in holiness and growth in covenant unity. Mark Dever describes biblical growth, “growth can appear in many different ways: through growing numbers being called to missions; by older members beginning to get a fresh sense of their responsibility in evangelism; by funerals many of the younger members of the congregation attend simply out of their love for the older; by increased praying, and desire for increased preaching; by church meetings characterized by genuinely spiritual conversation; by increased giving, and by givers giving more sacrificially; by more members sharing the gospel with others; by parents rediscovering their responsibility to educate their children in the faith. These are just a few examples of the kind of church growth Christians pray and work for.”
So how does this kind of Godly growth occur? It happens through discipleship. Discipleship is not merely taking in more information about God, but allowing the Holy Spirit to apply the truth of his word to our hearts resulting in obedience and holiness. That is biblical growth. At Oak Crest, everything we do should be to the goal of growing the church through the growth of individual believers in the faith. As we do this, not only do we grow, but God gloriously receives all the credit for our growth.