This past week I've spent some time in the book of Acts and have been amazed yet again at the early church movement as the good news of Jesus was proclaimed. The power and rate at which the early church grew is staggering and worth celebrating. In the same vein, I also had the privilege of spending some time with one of the Executive Directors of a church that just passed the 10,000 number for average weekend attendance throughout their various sites. With these two experiences in mind, here are a few observations;
First, the book of Acts does not make any apologies for talking about growing in their numbers. (Acts 2:41, 2:47, 4:4, 5:14, 6:7, 11:21, 14:1) As one reads the following passages of Scripture, there is great excitement about the proclamation of the good news of Jesus, even amidst persecution. There is also great joy at the growth that comes when people believe and move from the darkness into the light.
Secondly, I was amazed at some of the stories my friend told me about the resistance they have faced both internally and externally as they have grown. Now I understand that there are different philosophies of ministry out there, but surely all Christ followers both internally and externally can celebrate with those that faithfully proclaim the gospel and currently sees the mighty hand of God at work. They are getting ready to baptize 80 new believers soon and that's worth throwing a party for!
Thirdly, I am still convinced there is a balance to be found. I believe with all my heart that a marketing genius could grow a "church" in America whether the good news of Jesus was preached or not. There are many ways to entice and seduce people into half truths that keep them coming even though truth may not be taught. But, I am equally disappointed with ministries that have a multitude of excuses for not wanting to grow and see numbers increase through people coming to know Christ. There's got to be a balance that sees the passion and faithful teaching of God's Word seen in the early church as God's people rely upon Him to "add to their numbers" regularly.
It's been an interesting week of reading in the book of Acts and it was a encouraging lunch meeting with my friend to hear of a modern "added to their number that day" story. Jesus is still building His church and I count myself privileged like all Christ followers to be a part of it day in and day out.