ACORNS, CHURCH GROWTH, AND GOD'S VISION
Every oak tree started as an acorn.
God's vision for us, to walk in personal relationship with each of us forever, involves a step-by-step, day-by-day growth of maturity and wisdom in our lives. Pastor Bill shared a strong Scriptural exhortation for each of us last Sunday that, in summary, God wants us to make us like Jesus. As Romans 8:29 says, He has planned for us to "be conformed to the image of His Son." That means in our demeanor, our devotion, our character, our love, our compassion, our faithfulness -- in every area of our lives -- we should increasingly reflect Jesus (2 Cor. 3:18).
The maturing growth involved here may seem impossible.
"How could someone like me ever really be like Jesus? Can my small acorn of gospel faith really become a great oak tree of spiritual life and impact?"
This miracle is made possible through the Holy Spirit's work in our lives, our own daily surrender to His will, and even by the sufferings and trials that come our way. God uses all of these elements (and others) to accomplish His purposes. The more we seek Him and surrender to Him, the more the process of personal growth can advance.
What About Church Growth?
I believe that God is interested in His church growing, in the same way He is interested in us personally growing. Let's dream about it:
We could grow in devotion. That is, our love for Christ could manifest itself in new ways, we could be more in love with God tomorrow than we are today.
We could grow in love for people. Through humble unity and an "others-first" mentality, we could learn to extend more generous love and service to others.
We could grow in vision. After studying God's vision for us, we could start increasing our faith and planning for new, visionary steps forward as a church body. We could "see" more of what God sees, with more of an eternal perspective.
We could grow in number. Certainly we'd love to see more of our friends, neighbors and family members experiencing the things we've come to love about our church. We'd love to see more people trust in Christ, more people worship alongside us on Sundays, more people engaging in spiritual growth opportunities at our church.
We could grow in impact. One way I like to measure impact is, "How many people is our church talking to this week about God's Word?" That's not just about Sunday mornings - that's the combined total of all of our interactions as individuals and as a body - the "message" of the church family. Are there ways we could grow this impact, both personally and together as a team?
We could grow in world missions. As we'll learn during our upcoming mission emphasis (April 3 & 10), BCBC is touching lives across the world, in some very creative ways. Is this an area in which we could grow in the future?
We could grow in joy. Perhaps we could be more Jesus-focused, more optimistic, more filled with the Spirit, more excited about opportunities ahead, with a greater level of celebration and thanksgiving in our hearts.
In any of these growth areas (and in others we could mention), we should never be content with past activity, or resigned to eating "yesterday's manna." For the most part, this growth process doesn't come to a conclusion (as if our joy, love, mission, or impact suddenly reaches a point where God says, "Stop it! Enough of that!"). No, my hunch is that He is actually a lot more committed to our ongoing growth than we are. That means there's never a good reason to stop dreaming, reaching, pressing, planting, and going forward, in His power, for His glory.
Perhaps we could pray:
- Lord, search my heart. In what areas do I need to spiritually grow this month?
- Lord, when You see our church, what opportunities for growth do You see this year?
- Lord, how could we could grow our impact, and extend our mission?
- Lord, would You guide our growth, so that it honors You and never us?
Growing in Christ alongside you,
Interim Teaching Pastor