If a church is growing, there is a reason. Likewise, if a church is not growing or is dying, there is also a reason. Let us stop attributing growth or decline to mere chance, but let us try to find their root causes. Then we will have more growth and less decline. If a child is not growing, there is a reason for this. If the cause can be determined and a remedy exists, we should administer the remedy, and the child will grow. This also applies to spiritual matters.
Is our congregation growing or declining? If we expect revival and want souls to be saved, we need a living, victorious church as a foundation. It is useless to try to lead sinners to repentance by having them adapt legalistic forms of behavior, or by simply having them make an empty confession in order to draw them into fellowship. In many congregations there is too much indifference. This will never overcome the resistance of a sinful heart to seek the Lord. Someone may see and be convinced of their need of salvation, but although they are “almost saved,” they are not truly born again. They cannot tell you why they do not attain spiritual life, but they don’t receive salvation. Why not? What is the reason? There may be too much deadness in the congregation for the Holy Spirit to work freely and effectively. The work of the Spirit is being hindered. Therefore, it is difficult to pray powerfully for souls in the face of such obstacles! This is to some extent the cause of many unfruitful revival services. The Spirit cannot do His work.
Let us be a living, victorious, Spirit-filled church. Let us be a church with a burden for lost souls. Let us be willing and ready to deny ourselves and bring personal sacrifices for the cause of God’s kingdom. That is the only way to move the world and win people for Christ. That is the difference between a growing and a declining church.
What is the secret of a growing church? A successful evangelist said this about the early church on the day of Pentecost: “See the congregation in this time of revival. The believers were filled with the Holy Spirit. They were not worldly. They were at work daily. They did not shy back from bringing sacrifices. With the Word of God in hand, they went out through the world and preached Christ. They totally believed the Word. They preached the cross of Christ, the resurrection from the dead, and the judgment to come. They preached that souls are lost and that Christ came to seek what is lost and to save from sin. They preached there is no other name under heaven wherein we can be saved, other than in the name of Jesus. They gave themselves fully to saving souls and did not let other things distract them from this task or to use up their time or energy. They invited everyone to salvation, preached openly, and proclaimed salvation through Christ to all.”
In our minds, let us go back to that time and read the account once more. Let us think about what it has to say to us. Acts 2:42-47 states: “They continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.”
Here we have a rapidly-growing church in view. The text gives us certain key words that unlock for us the secret of their growth. Key words are: “in one accord,” “continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine,” and “all who believed were together.” They fasted, prayed, denied themselves, and gave themselves practically and spiritually for the saving of souls. If we follow their example, souls will be won, and the church will receive new life and will grow and flourish.
The secret to being a church that experiences revival lies in the powerful words that the Apostle Paul says of the churches in Macedonia: “They first gave themselves to the Lord” (2 Corinthians 8:5). If we want to have revival and to be a growing church, we need this resolve. We, as members of the church, need to first dedicate ourselves completely to Christ and to the task of winning souls for Him.
Much precious time is being lost, and, with it, millions of souls are perishing while the church sleeps. It is inconceivable that a congregation would have little or no increase in souls being saved year after year! There is no excuse for this. We are saved to serve others and reaching others for Christ. It is our duty to reach out to a lost world. In order to do this, we first have to be truly saved ourselves and on fire for the Lord. We need to be an evangelistic, soul-saving church, or else we will cease to exist. There is no other way to stay alive except to be active in doing God’s work. The situation is serious and urgent! As a church, we must not sit in complacency while the world rushes toward hell. Every second, a soul is going to eternity. We need to wake up, take hold of the message of life, and bring it to a lost and dying world. We must stand before the Lord one day and give account to God for this on the Day of Judgment.