Mt. Vernon Church of Christ Services Sunday A. M. Bible Study - 9:30 Sunday A. M. Worship - 10:30 Sunday P. M. Worship - 5:00 Wednesday Evening Bible Study - 6:00 Address 700 Mill Street Mt. Vernon, Indiana  47620 Contact (812) 838-2635 email Gospel Plan of Salvation Hear - Rom. 10:17 Believe - Mark 16:15,16 Repent - Luke 17:3 Confess - Rom. 10:10 Be baptized - Acts 2:38 Live faithfully - Titus 2:12 “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God...” (I Peter 4:11) Mt. Vernon Church of Christ

It seems that there is no end to the lengths that some will go to bring about church growth. They surely appear to God a sad sight as they go from one large denominational group to another frantically grasping for ways to make the church swell to great numbers like theirs (cf. I Sam. 8:20). It is incredible o think that we. like Israel, have not learned the lesson that seeking help outside of God's word amounts to foolish disloyalty (Psalm 146:3; Is. 31:3) Of course, any criticism of this flurry of excitement and "progress" is branded as narrow-minded opposition to growth.

But please consider the following points: (1) Does it really seem possible that God would require numerical growth but then fail to tell us how o accomplish it? Must we resort to paying a fee to "church growth experts" to come and enlighten us about the proper techniques for growing a church--techniques which they have gleaned from denominationalism, psychology, and sociology? Techniques spawned in the mind of mere men?

(2) When we decide to appeal to the secular world b y spending vast sums of money and air time to address modern man's "felt needs" (e.g., loneliness, alcoholism, stress, cancer), what are we doing? We are permitting mere man, human wisdom, and the latest trend in social psychology to determine what and how we preach and teach. We are not permitting God to set the agenda and determine the subject matter and substance of our message. In fact, the climate in the church is such that a person could be completely ignorant of biblical truth and still be a "qualified expert" on holding seminars on church growth or appealing to the masses through media!

(3) Too many times our "progress" amounts to nothing more than the subtle abandonment of biblical truth in exchange for "something new" (Acts 17:21) or the latest popular fads derived from the "latest studies." Under the guise of "growth" and "progress," we stray from biblical doctrine and gradually drift away from our spiritual moorings. One is given the impression that if you continue to believe in the same biblical truth that has always been accepted and defended, you have "stagnate" and failed to "grow" and "mature"!  The term "transgresseth" in the King James Version in II John 9 comes from a word from which we get the word "progress." Such is an apt description of much of the gimmickry being promulgated today in the name of "progress."

This mindset is completely contrary to the biblical description for achieving our God-ordained tasks. If we want the church to grow and be insulated against the apostasy that is creeping through the brotherhood, we have got to go back to the Bible and see that only on the basis of truth taught with uncompromising fervor can divinely-approved growth be realized. There are no substitutes. Nothing will impact itself upon the human mind like straightforward presentation of truth. God's truth alone has the "power" (Rom. 1:16) and the "energy" (Heb. 4:12) to stimulate people. Only God's truth can make people free (John 8:32; 17:17). When society was deteriorating and coming apart at the seams, that's when God sent plain-spoken, hard-hitting, to-the-point prophets to jolt and jar the people into a realization of just how far they had strayed from divine precepts. Their divinely originated message did not fail to facilitate the growth that God wanted  (Is. 55:11).

That is precisely why it is not our burden and responsibility to produce the numbers--"But God Who gives the increase" (I Cor. 3:6,7). As long as we are planting and watering (i.e., teaching God's word), we need not feel compelled to force our own increase! Only the implanted word will save people (James 1:21). So instead of languishing among the mechanisms of social psychology, why don't we just go back and "desire the sincere milk of the word, that [we] may grow thereby" I Pet. 2:2)?

Dave Miller, Piloting the Straight, Church Growth and the Drive For Relevance.

Church Growth and  The Drive For Relevance
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