HOW DO YOU MAKE A CHURCH GROW?

Have you been a member of a church that has not increased in attendance in years? Being transferred a number of times; our family has been members of a number of churches that rarely increased in numbers. In fact, I have been a board member of six churches that just never seemed to grow.

A friend told me about his church that over a period of time and changes of pastors, their church lost many members and was on the edge of bankruptcy. I have heard this story a number of times of churches having to close because of losing its members. However, after receiving a new minister and some key members left the church, it started growing and financially has healed. It has grown from about 100 to 500. God requires unity and obedience.

Remember God told Joshua that when they defeated Jericho they were to take nothing. One family took clothes and gold. The next city they tried to take they were defeated. Joshua asked God why and was told to take that family that was disobedient and their live stock and stone them. From then on the Israelites listened to God, obeyed His Commandments and won their battles. It doesn’t take many disobedient church members for God to withdraw His help. Normally, without God’s help, churches don’t grow. There are cults that grow rapidly but their help comes from Satan.

We joined Central Christian Church in Las Vegas, NV in 1981 and the church had an attendance of just over 450 and did not seem to grow. In 1983, I was elected to the board and saw what made a church this size, become one of the 10 largest churches in America. We have witnessed over 50,000 conversions, help start other churches and have a number of satellite churches and a prison ministry.

First, it is not what we did but what God did. But God did not help our church grow until we sought His direction and became obedient to the Holy Spirit’s guidance. The leadership met weekly at 6:30 a.m. praying that God would give us guidance in what He wanted our church to do in order to reach out and help others find Christ as their Savior. This took three years before we were able to determine that God wanted us to evangelize the Las Vegas area and beyond. It required a change in our services and our presentation that would reach out to those who were not Christians. Too many churches are traditional and fail to reach out to anyone who has not been saved. But that is not necessarily the problem.

I believe one problem is the membership wants what pleases them rather than what pleases God. It is more like joining Rotary or a service club. Second, there was not unity and everyone in agreement as to what the churches purpose is. My friend’s church and our church didn’t really start growing until some members, causing continual dissention, left the church. Our board kept pleading with God to help us know what we needed to do to keep so many from leaving our church when we made a number of changes to reach lost souls. We began to realize that the church would not grow while there was this disunity and with all the problems that were being created.

We believe, once the congregation became unified and saw what God was doing, the church grew rapidly. Our faith really grew when we had to start expanding our facilities and didn’t have the money to do it. We expanded and God found a way to pay the expenses.

We realized that we had to relocate because we were unable to handle the growing numbers. We decided we needed 80 acres and started praying that God would help us find the right property that we could afford. We made bids on properties and they were rejected. God gave us the opportunity to buy an 80 acre gravel pit for three million dollars. Across the road land was selling for $110,000 per acre or $8.8 million for 80 acres. We negotiated to buy the property but didn’t have the money to pay for it. A member said: “I will loan you the $3 million” and the property became ours. We designed a 150,000 sq. ft. building costing $21 million and still did not have the money. God led us in being able to build it and never missed paying the monthly mortgage.

The purpose in providing the previous information is to share with you that it wasn’t until we gave the church to Christ, as our leader, that things started to change. As long as it was our church and we did things our way, there was little to no growth.

You may not understand how difficult it was to give up our church to God. There were a number of members that believed it was their church and they wanted to run it their way. One of our previous churches asked me to be their treasurer. I did it for one year and said I would never do it again. I found that those wanting to run the church were not willing to tithe. Some were business people that lived a better than average life financially, but often gave little if any money to the church. It was no wonder there was little unity and God was not prospering and helping the church to grow.

Matthew 18:19 – “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.”

If you want a church to grow, it must become Christ’s church and there must be complete unity, trust and obedience to living according to God’s Commandments and His Ways. If God is not directing your church, you may be no different than a service organization.

Jeremiah 11:8 – “But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubbornness of their evil hearts. So I brought on them all the curses of the covenant I had commanded them to follow but that they did not keep.’” Verse 14 – “Do not pray for this people or offer any plea or petition for them, because I will not listen when they call to me in the time of their distress.”

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