Are we failing at church growth?

Published 11:23 am Friday, April 5, 2019

Perhaps one thing individual members of the Church fail to realize, is that the Church is made up of all types of people. With so many different kinds of Christians it is imperative that each realize where they are spiritually and then to continue to grow to maturity never giving up the fight. In 2 Cor. 13:5, Paul said, “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates.” Each Christian must look at themselves in order to determine their commitment to Christ.
However, many Christians want to examine the other and lay any failure or shortcomings at their feet. In 2 Corinthians 10:12, Paul said, “For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.” To be wise we must judge ourselves each day and make adjustments to our lives in order to be what God desires us to be. We learn in 2 John 9, that Jesus and His Word is our standard; it is therefore futile and foolish to consider our lives and actions alongside of others. Within the body of Christ there are new members who have only just begun their walk with Christ. While the mature Christian may be proud and happy for them we cannot live as they may live only having began to learn what a mature Christian should be. To do so would be nothing short of regression. There are some in the Church who are weak in the faith. This says nothing about their true desire but only that they are still trying to stabilize their lives in the faith and to follow them would be disastrous. The mature Christian should receive such and be an encouragement to them in their growth process (Rom. 14:1). Then there are those Christians who are lukewarm in nature. These are those who have a totally perverted view of themselves and others. They act as if they have completed the journey when in fact they are still in the battle. Often these have completely turned their backs on God and have given up the fight (Rev. 13:5-6). We should not compare ourselves to these for Jesus stated they have lost their zeal; to follow them would be to spiritually die along their side. There are others who are carnally minded. To follow the carnally minded is to give up the fight. In Romans 8:5-6, Paul said, “For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” Some members of the Church are fearful, they have fear because of the lives they are living; they tread in dangerous waters. Consider what John wrote in Revelation 21:8, “But the fearful … shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” To follow these individuals would be foolish for one who truly desires to live with God in eternity. Some Christians have been overtaken in faults. They deny God’s Word to direct their lives concerning sin and its dangers and thus are once again living in sin (James 5:19-20). There are some Christians who strive to live the Christian life. These have determined to be steadfast and grounded in the faith. These remember the words of Paul, “And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.” (1 Corinthians 15:8). See also (Heb. 5:12-14).
The real question is which of these descriptions best our lives best or perhaps which description do we desire to fit our lives. Becoming the Christian God wants us to be is no accident. It is achieved by desire and determination. There is no greater struggle in life than to be a faithful Child of God. Congregations fail, Elders fail, Christians fail; these failures are no accident but are a result of individuals failing to grow up. Peter said, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our lord and Savior Jesus Christ ….” (2 Pet. 3:18). This demands that we fervently seek God (Matthew 6:33). This demands that we only compare ourselves to God’s perfect instruction book (Romans 10:17).
As you compare yourself to God’s Word, how do you measure up?
(Tony Hoss is minister at Centerview Church of Christ, Elizabethton.)

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