How To Have a Growing Church

Hope for Today (English)
Hope for Today (English)
How To Have a Growing Church
/
1 Corinthians 1:10-17

Christianity is an evangelistic faith. Because we know that people who die without knowing Christ as Saviour face a terrible eternity, we should concentrate on evangelism, winning people to Christ. We carry the commission Jesus gave to the disciples before He returned to glory. He said, “Make disciples of all nations” (see Matthew 28:19-20). That is our primary responsibility. Many talk about how we need to nurture as well as evangelize. That is true, but the last and most important command from Jesus was for His followers to make disciples. He said this is accomplished by “teaching them to observe all things” (verse 20).

It seems that far too much attention is given to building larger meeting houses. We have great, elaborate, beautiful houses to worship in. But where are the people? There is something strange about that because there is not one reference in the Bible, not even a hint, about what the meeting house should be or how large it should be, or how ornate it should be. Nothing! It is always about the body, the body of Christ.

People are more important than buildings. The church is people. We all have heard accounts of travelers in other lands, for example, China, where Christians meet in houses. The Chinese believers don’t have elaborate meeting houses; yet they have warm, wonderful fellowship because the body of Christ meets there.

Many churchmen in the West talk about kingdom building. They say we are kingdom builders. My friend, I must disagree with that. We are not kingdom builders. That is not what Jesus sent us to do. Jesus has commissioned us to win souls and to build up the body of Christ. The Bible tells us the kingdom will come when the King comes back. Amen. He went into a far country to receive a kingdom, and when He comes back, the kingdom will be here. We pray, “Thy kingdom come.” We never pray, Help us to build the kingdom, when we pray the Lord’s prayer. Therefore, let’s focus our attention on the apostle’s words in I Corinthians 1:10-17.

10 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the
same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in
the same mind and in the same judgment.

11 For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of
Chloe, that there are contentions among you.

12 Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of
Cephas; and I of Christ.

13 Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul.

14 I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius;

15 Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name.

16 And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized
any other.

17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest
the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.

From these words from the apostle Paul, I am bringing you several positive DIRECTIVES that, if followed, will help your church grow.

The first directive is:

RECOGNIZE COMMENDABLE PRACTICES

10 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same
thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.

Gather around Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul is making a plea to the Corinthian believers by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Let’s take a look at that name. The designation Lord means that nobody is over Him; nobody is above Him. Everybody is under Him because He is Lord. He has total control. He is the One who orders the affairs of the church. Then notice the word, Jesus. Before Jesus was born, the angel Gabriel appeared to Joseph and told him that he was to name Mary’s Child Jesus, because He would save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:20-21). So the word Jesus means Saviour; Lord, the One who is in control; Saviour, the One who has rescued us; and Christ, the anointed One, the One especially called and anointed to be the Saviour. That’s what the name the Lord Jesus Christ means.

Gather around Jesus and speak the same thing, Paul says. Recognize the commendable practices: speak the same thing, be united in doctrine, and don’t have any divisions. Oh, what tragedies have been wrought in the church over the years, over the centuries, because men have disagreed violently and have not spoken the same thing! You know, friend, I believe if we all come to the Bible as the Word of God without any ax to grind, we might say, we would have far more unity. We wouldn’t need to have all these splinter groups. “Speak the same thing,” Paul says. Be perfectly joined together in harmony in mind and judgment. Be kindly disposed to one another even if you do not agree on all details. There is no particular merit there is no merit at all in hacking one another to pieces.

Recognize the good. Some time ago I received some material from a gentleman who thought he was the only one who was right. It is true that the Bible is the Word of God. I stand absolutely on it. At the same time, I believe we need to recognize one another. Be perfectly joined together in harmony, in mind and judgment. Even if you can’t agree on all details, be kindly disposed. Recognize the good.

The second directive is:

NEUTRALIZE CONTENDING PERSONALITIES

11 For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of
Chloe, that there are contentions among you.

12 Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of
Cephas; and I of Christ.

There they are, all four of them: Paul, Apollos, Cephas, and Christ. Contentions frequently gather around persons. I remember what my pastoral class seminary professor said to the young men preparing to go into the ministry. “When you leave a church,” he said, “then leave it.” In other words, don’t have your party. Don’t foster party spirit. This existed in Corinth all right, four parties.

They had the Paul party. Paul, the founder of the Corinthian church, was a defender of Gentile believers. He stood up for them. He understood how Gentiles come into the body of Christ. They can even fellowship with Jewish believers who seek to promote the Mosaic Law. In the second letter to the Corinthians, Paul commented about some people who thought his letters were powerful but his presence was weak and contemptible. So there was a Paul party.

Then there was the Apollos party. We don’t know very much about Apollos except that he was a gifted orator. When he came to Ephesus and became acquainted with Aquila and Priscilla, they taught him more fully, because he only knew of the baptism of John the Baptist. They taught him about the coming of Christ. Apollos apparently hadn’t known about it. Apollos evidently had gathered around him people who appreciated his well-honed, reasoning ability on the platform.

There was the Cephas party, also. Cephas was Peter, the spokesman at Pentecost. He was the one who opened the door when the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the believers on the Day of Pentecost. Peter was the one who first took the Gospel to the Gentiles, to Cornelius in Caesarea. But Peter fell away. Peter was unable to stand in the face of some of his compatriots. They took him to be a strong advocate of following the Mosaic Law. That was the Cephas party.

Finally, there was the Christ party Jesus only. But that was totally contrary to His prayer. He desired that they all might be one when He prayed to the Father before His crucifixion. He wanted His disciples to be one even as He and the Father “are One.”

There you have the four parties. You have the Paul party, the Apollos party, the Cephas party, and the Christ party. Paul said, “Let’s come together in Jesus.” Who was crucified for you anyway? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? No, of course not! Jesus Christ was crucified for them and for us. And we come together in the name of Jesus.

Is it the man or is it the message? Oh, it is the message, my friend! Yes, Jesus Christ was the crucified One. So if you want your church to grow, neutralize the contending personalities. They may not have intended it to be so at all. Remember the prayer of Jesus, that we all may be one.

The third directive is:

MAXIMIZE THE CENTRAL PROCLAMATION

17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest
the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.

For some baptism is all-important, but baptism is not of first importance. Some emphasize the method and insist on immersion forward or backward, one time or three times. Some emphasize the place. They think it is better to be baptized in the Jordan River than anywhere else. A kibbutz in Israel has prepared a place, a lovely place, where baptisms can be done by Christians. Now people who want to be baptized in the Jordan River can be baptized there very nicely. But is the place important? Or is the method important? What is the most important? Is it the baptism or is it the message?

The apostle Paul said he did not baptize very many, just a couple there in Corinth, because Christ did not send him to baptize. What did He send him to do? Christ sent him to preach the Gospel lest the cross of Christ should be of none effect. That is the only way to atone for sin, the sin of the human race, your sin, and my sin. To cover our sin, Jesus shed His blood on the cross of Calvary. The Cross is the evidence of His death. His blood shed on Calvary was proof that He died. It was God’s choice, God’s choice for atonement.

In Romans 3:23-26 the apostle Paul spoke about the centrality of the proclamation of the Cross:

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath, set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

Oh yes, my friend, I quote:

This is the message that I bring,
A message angels fain would sing,
“Oh, be ye reconciled,”
Thus saith my Lord and King,
“Oh, be ye reconciled to God.”

We have to maximize the central proclamation, the cross of Jesus Christ. Therefore, every church that wishes to grow will need to follow Paul’s positive directives:

RECOGNIZE COMMENDABLE PRACTICES

Be one in spirit.

NEUTRALIZE CONTENDING PERSONALITIES

Stop wasting energy on factions.

MAXIMIZE THE CENTRAL PROCLAMATION

Jesus Christ and Him crucified.