CAUSING THE CHURCH
If you are interested in learning some methods that will guarantee an increase in church membership then continue to read this article, especially to the end. These methods will stir up interest and attract people of the community. I know they will work because the denominational world has been using them for years. Look at the results. These churches have seen their membership rolls increase to the point that newer and larger buildings have to be built to accommodate the crowds. At the same times their leaders are also smart enough to realize that they must often change their methods in order to adapt to the changing world. Many churches of Christ, who in time past, at least claimed to follow “The Old Paths” and preach “the gospel of Christ” traced all the way back to Jerusalem in Acts 2 are now using these same denominational schemes with great success. You can know they are increasing by observing their large ornate buildings and “multi-purpose life” centers. They have learned that in order to compete with the world, they must adapt to worldly standards. Following are some of the methods being currently practiced to increase their attendance and membership.
1. LET PEOPLE REMAIN AS THEY ARE. This method tells people they do not have to change their lives very much. It would be great if they do so, but if not, accept them anyway. Ignore their sins. Let them remain in sinful, sexually immoral relationships (either living together outside of wedlock, or an adulterous marriage). Let them continue to practice social drinking, swearing and so forth. Make sure to place no emphasis on the demands of Jesus found in Lk.13:3, 5, “But unless you repent you will all likewise perish” or “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent” Acts 17:30.
2. LET PEOPLE HAVE FUN. The world loves entertainment and recreation, so the church needs to get involved in activities that will promote such activities. This will satisfy the physical cravings and at same time provide some type of religious atmosphere. It must work, for many churches have already done so, or are presently building their family life centers (multi-purpose buildings) which combine social and recreational activities. They cater to the physical side of man, but also offer something to those who seem to profess an interest in saving their souls 2.Tim.3:5. This country club atmosphere, combined with the glitter of Hollywood techniques will bring in the crowd. Evidently Paul didn’t know that this method would work when he wrote; “For the kingdom of God is not food and drink, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” Rom.14:17, and “many walk of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is their shame – who set their mind on earthly things” Phil.3:18-19.
3. APPEAL TO GREED. Another method that can work to bring in the crowds is to offer some type worldly incentive. Offer door prizes, or have a contest to see who can bring the most new people in a set period of time, with the prize being a trip to some amusement park or ball game or some current video game, etc. Of course this method does away with the Biblical method of using the gospel of Christ as “the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes…for in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘the just shall live by faith’” Rom.1:16-17.
4. BELIEVE WHAT YOU WANT. Don’t worry about having firm convictions. Don’t attempt to understand the Bible. Just say you believe in Jesus. Besides, you and I don’t have to understand the Bible alike. Everyone knows the book is too difficult to read and be sure not to read Eph.3:3-5 which teaches otherwise. People who believe this won’t have to be concerned with such scriptures as Jude 3; Eph.4:5 that teach there is only “one faith” which must be followed and defended as well as obeyed. Exhortations such as 2.Cor.13:5; 2.Tim.2:15 teaching people to search the scriptures to learn how to be approved of God are ignored.
By now you may be inclined to say, “But these methods are unscriptural.” You’re right, they are! Yet, you will have to admit they will stir up interest and bring in the crowds. Making the church secular like the world does draw crowds and increase membership but it won’t get people into heaven. One might as well join some country club or some other similar organization, for membership in them will be just as effective before God as being a member of a church that ignores God’s will.
The only true way to build up the Lord’s church in a scriptural, God-pleasing way is to follow the methods laid down in the book of Acts. Beginning with Pentecost, the early church enjoyed great growth, first 3000, then 5000, then great multitudes. This growth was not by accident. Read Acts 2:41; 4:4; 5:14; 6:7; 9:31; 11:24; 16:5; 19:20. One thing is evident from these scriptures, when the preaching of the Word increased, so did the church. The early Christians utilized the true power of God, “the Gospel of Christ” Rom.1:16. The solution to church growth is not new and updated human schemes, but a concerted effort to scatter the seed, “the word of God” Lk.11:8 into honest hearts. When there is an increase in scattering the seed the membership will also increase.
The early church was possessed of no “magic” that made people listen. But, the members were totally committed to that which they believed, Jesus Christ the only true hope for mankind. They preached Jesus as the only way to God. They were dedicated to this task.They were bold as they spoke. Yet, in the midst of all this also found time to serve God with gladness of heart. They rejoiced even while they suffered, yet, never developed the “martyr’s complex.” They knew they were not perfect people, but they still tried to truly “practice what they preached.” The world understood then, as it does now, that people are not perfect. They despise the hypocrite, but respect those who recognize their own imperfections and are consistently trying to do better. So, Christian, be consistent in your life. Remember, following the truth will not make the church like the world, it will make it different. This is what the Lord requires. Scatter the seed. Be committed and concerned. Preach the gospel to others.
By Tommy Thornhill via the Etna Enlightener Vol 1 no 4, March 4, 2012
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