I heard a statistic the other day that made me scratch my head in wonder. It wasn’t so much the statistic, but the assumed way to lessen such a large number.
Over 3,500 people leave the church every day.
Or, about 1.25 million people a year.
The person who quoted the statistic said it’s why we need to plant more churches.
But if people are leaving the church at some 25,000 a week, what good will more churches do? That will just be more churches to vacate.
Why should churches be planted? To reach a particular people group, a certain community, or to give people an option where they can express their faith in a way they’re comfortable?
This has been somewhat the focus of church plants over the last ten years.
I’ve been told a new church plant generates much more excitement than a church that’s been in existence quite a while. People get tired of the same old same-o same-o, so they’re quick to try something new.
It’s one of the latest components of the church growth mentality that a number of Christian leaders are ascribing to.
I kind of think of it as “Shuffling the Saints.”
May I suggest an alternative to church growth, and possibly an answer to the number leaving the church every day?
And what if, instead of suggesting an answer based on the latest marketing ideas, polling data, or some other carnal-minded reasoning; what if I listed a few reasons why the early church grew like it did?
What if we examined how the unlearned fishermen, as well as a Pharisee of Pharisees (and chief among sinners) turned their world upside down with the power of God?
Here are 8 reasons:
1. The leaders spent time with Jesus. “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13 ESV)
2. They didn’t razzle-dazzle their audience with clever speech and well planned “services”. “And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:1 – 2:5 ESV)
3. They were filled with the Holy Spirit, and relied completely on His help. “And Stephen, full of grace and power, was doing great wonders and signs among the people. Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), and of the Cyrenians, and of the Alexandrians, and of those from Cilicia and Asia, rose up and disputed with Stephen. But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking.” (Acts 6:8 – 6:10 ESV)
4. Holiness was more important than popularity. “But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler – not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.” (1 Corinthians 5:11 – 5:13 ESV)
5. The love of and for Christ was their motivation. To them, ministry wasn’t a vocation. It was their passion. “For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” (2 Corinthians 5:14 – 5:15 ESV)
6. The believers belonged to each other, not a facility or a leader with a charismatic personality. “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts…” (Acts 2:42 – 2:46 ESV)
7. They preached the resurrection of Jesus; every day, in every house, regardless of the cost involved. “And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.” (Acts 5:42 ESV)
8. They loved Jesus more than their own life. “And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.” (Revelation 12:11 ESV)
Maybe you’re like me, and what I’ve written bears strongly with your spirit. And perhaps these are things you are doing, but, as of yet, having experienced Heaven’s power like the believers did in Acts.
Please don’t give up, or give in. Your labor is not in vain, and God will cause you to go out with joy and be led forth with peace.
As you do things His way.