God has been very gracious to Mars Hill Church. We’ve seen a lot of converts, a lot of growth, and a lot of evidence that Jesus is alive. It feels somewhat ridiculous to talk about the case for church growth because we’ve had nothing to do with it.
Just because it’s God at work and not us, however, doesn’t mean that growth is always easy. It requires perseverance because the future is uncertain, people resist change, and the temptation to rest on the status quo is strong.
In the face of a struggling economy, a divided leadership, a lack of generosity—whatever your church is going through—here are four reasons to pursue and pray for expansion anyway:
1) Jesus will build his church.
Jesus has more for his church. That’s why we’re still here. He promised to build the church (Matt. 16:18), and we must trust that he will. This requires acting on God’s calling even if you don’t always know exactly how things are going to play out. Jesus often asks his disciples to trust him, even when the plan seems obscure—or downright impossible (Luke 9:10–17).
2) The opposite of growth is death.
The living grow; the dying do not. A church need not add to its numbers in astronomical proportions, but if nobody is showing up, chances are nobody is meeting Jesus, which is the whole point. Also, spiritual growth is inextricably linked to numerical growth (though it’s not always an exponential relationship); if people are truly growing in their faith, they will give, they will serve, they will invite their friends, they will tell people about Jesus, they will live on mission—all of which leads to some level of numerical growth as God works through his people.
3) We want the church to mature.
We all have a tendency to cling to our lives, our money, and our time as if we were somehow entitled to it in the first place, as if it were not a gift from God to be used for his glory. Large visions and large projects require large faith, large giving, and large amounts of volunteers to own the mission. It should be somewhat difficult and painful because it should be a sacrifice. Through sacrifice, God destroys our selfish ways and teaches us to treasure Jesus above our comfort and our self-sufficiency.
4) More people need Jesus.
Please pray for healthy growth (and the necessary pruning) in Jesus’ church throughout the world.
This article originally appeared on The Resurgence. Used by permission.