“Why aren’t we growing?” someone asks. Is there any one reason why the church seems to be spinning her wheels and not doing what the Lord wants and requires?
Some try to “jump-start” church growth by trying to appeal to the felt needs of the world. Hence, many churches today try to mold the church in a way that will make visitors feel good about themselves and whatever problems they might have. These churches are seemingly growing by leaps and bounds, but, are there real conversions to Christ? Are there those who truly say to Jesus, “I seek you first?” (Matthew 6:33)
Other churches, who are stagnant, look at this and go the opposite direction, and refuse to change anything. They think that the methods that worked forty or fifty years ago will work now. But we know in our hearts they won’t. Door knocking will not work because of the world around us, and the seeming perceived threats of which we all are aware. Asking people to gospel meetings, while a good step in the right direction, does not work as it used to, because, many times, even members of the Lord’s church cannot be persuaded to come. (And, as always, we cannot place the blame on the older members, or the sick and those with chronic illnesses who CAN’T GET OUT). When members will not support a meeting, can we expect visitors too? When members will to support a meeting, can we expect visitors to?
So it seems that OUR methods and ideas just don’t seem to work anymore.
When we go to the New Testament, we see what caused the church to grow in the first century. Because this is Jesus’ church, I am sure that the same things will work now!
First and foremost, the church engaged in prayer. Before the church began, the apostles gathered together and continued in prayer for the ten days between the time Jesus ascended into heaven and the time the Spirit came on Pentecost (Acts 1). When the Day of Pentecost came, they were there doing what they had been trained to do—but they did not do it on their own. God was with them.
I often wonder if the reason why the church is not growing is because we are trying to do this all on our own?
Years ago, a lady told me that I would never succeed at being a Christian if I always try to be a Christian on my own. You know, attend church, give and work for the Lord on my own strength and power. I confess that I have tried to do just that for many years. When we do this, we burnout so quickly, because we are not connected to God, who is the source of the power to help us be what we need to be.
Prayer and Bible study involves connection with God. Hence do we really understand prayer? How often do you pray? And what do you pray for? Let’s think about this as we examine the following article by John Gipson:
WHY DOESN’T GOD HEAR MY PRAYERS?
“What is your understanding about prayer? Some see it as nothing more than asking God for what they want. They ask and God gives. It’s as simple as that. If and when God doesn’t respond, they give up on prayer. “It doesn’t work,” they say, “so what’s the use of praying?”
“To Jesus the meaning of prayer was not that God would give him whatever he asked. This is evident from the prayer which he prayed in the garden of Gethsemane.
“Removing himself from the disciples, with a soul sorrowful, even to death, Jesus fell on his face and prayed, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.” (Matthew 26:39)
“Needless to say, the cup of suffering was not removed. It couldn’t be if God were to accomplish his plan. And in every circumstance, Jesus wanted God’s will to be done. The petition for his own welfare was superseded by his overriding concern to do what God wanted him to do.
“Prayer, we think, is a way of getting God to do our will. Jesus saw it differently. He poured our his concerns, but accepted the will of God.
“Nor did Jesus complain that God didn’t hear his petition, or that God didn’t care.
“Selfishness, rather than submission, if often a hallmark of our praying. That’s why, as Cleon Lyles used to say, “Our prayers don’t have any suction.”
“James reminds us, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss (wrongly) to spend it on your passions” (James 4:3).
“The searching condition put on all of our prayers is that they must be in Christ’s name (John 14:13, 14). ALL PRAYERS UTTERED IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE DIVINE WILL ARE ANSWERED. Remember that the words, “Ask, and it will be given you” (Matthew 7:7), follow the verse which says, “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33).”
John Gipson, Little Rock AR
As we consider some things that we can do to help the church at South Cobb grow spiritually and numerically, we MUST start with prayer! And as we pray, we must examine our own lives and see if : 1. God and his kingdom really come first and 2. If we are willing to accept his will, and live by it, no matter what.
Let us pray!
TAKE TIME TO BE HOLY!
“You shall be holy, for I am holy,” says the Lord. As we look at the song, Take Time To Be Holy, let us notice what is involved:
Take Time for COMMUNION—Speak oft with thy Lord, Spend much time in secret, with Jesus alone. Forgetting in nothing, his blessing to seek.
Take Time for NOURISHMENT —And feed on his word.
Take Time for GUIDANCE— Each thought and each motive beneath his control.
Take Time for COMPANIONSHIP—Make friends of God’s children
Take Time for COMPASSION—Help those who are weak
Take Time for POISE— Be calm in thy soul, abiding in Jesus, like him thou shalt be.
Take Time for LOYALTY— Abide in him always, Abiding in Jesus.
Take Time for PREPARATION— Thou soon shall be fitted for service above.
John Gipson, Little Rock AR