Church growth begins with the revival of spiritual life, reflection on God’s past leading and teaching, and the development of a group of core church members dedicated to God’s work.

Is your church thriving? Struggling to grow? Or just barely staying alive? If your church is anything other than thriving, it’s time to take a trip to the official beginning of the Christian church—the day of Pentecost.

Pentecost: God’s Power + God’s Methods

Newly baptized by the Holy Spirit, Peter preached a powerful sermon to the Jews gathered in Jerusalem. He explained the disciples’ speaking in tongues as being a partial fulfillment of the prophecy from the book of Joel. He then quoted from Psalms 16 and 110 as evidence for the resurrection, ascension, and enthronement of Jesus in heaven. What was God inspiring Peter to do? He was taking the Jews on a journey through their history to help them systematically understand things from Scripture they had previously overlooked or misunderstood. Why? Because they needed to start thinking biblically. Reflection was vital for their education.

We often focus on the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and its’ power for “3000 in a day” evangelism. But we must not overlook the principle of reflection that God used to kickstart His church either. God was intentional about everything He did in the establishment of the early church. The approach God used then, He continues to use today.

Many of us have been approaching church growth unintentionally or even in a manner that is at odds with God’s. Like the conscience-stricken Jews listening to Peter, we need to cry out, “What shall we do?” and then repent of our ineffective church growth tactics and let God lead.

Rediscovering God’s Approach to Church Growth

The education phase builds a solid foundation for church growth by educating (or re-educating) church members on God’s ways and helping each one experience personal revival. Our unique identity and calling as Seventh-day Adventists is reaffirmed as we reflect on our Biblical and denominational heritage. The education phase creates space for transformation in people’s individual lives as they discover: 1) why our church exists, and 2) how God wants them to cooperate with Him in His divine mission. 

Developing a core group of church members who are wholly devoted to the work of the church is crucial during this phase of growth. As members study and pray together, they will become united in their love for Christ and each other. God’s vision for their fellowship will become clear as they reflect on God’s leadership during the early church and Advent movements. This core group becomes the foundation upon which every succeeding phase of church growth is built.

    1. Biblical principles at work: Reflection and revival. 
    2. Type of growth produced: Spiritual maturity in people’s personal lives and in the corporate life of the church. 

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