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                     "PRINCIPLES OF CHURCH GROWTH"


INTRODUCTION

1. The Lord desires for His church to grow...
   a. He provides gifts to ensure spiritual growth and development - Ep
      4:11-16
   b. He provides increase through our connection with Him as the head
      - Col 2:19

2. Yet church growth is not automatic...
   a. Some churches become stagnant
   b. Other churches enter a downward spiral till they cease to exist

[To avoid either of these catastrophes, there are two important
principles of church growth that must be understood and applied.  The
first of these is...]

I. EACH PART MUST DO ITS SHARE

   A. CHURCH GROWTH IS ENHANCED...
      1. When each member does his or her part as a member of the body
         - Ep 4:16
         a. We all have a function to fulfill - Ro 12:3-8
         b. Every member is important - 1Co 12:12-22
      2. When each member is drawing strength from the Head - Ep 4:16;
         Col 2:19
         a. Directly through God's indwelling - Php 2:12-13; 4:13; Ep 3:
            16,20
         b. Indirectly from one another - cf. 2Co 1:3-5
      -- Nourished from above and from within, a congregation is bound
         to grow

   B. CHURCH GROWTH IS ENDANGERED...
      1. When members do not do their part
         a. The church is handicapped by nonfunctioning members
         b. The church cannot perform to its full potential
      2. When other members have to make up the difference
         a. Who often struggle under the extra burden
         b. Who sometimes become disheartened, even give up
      -- When members won't do their part, a church cannot grow as God
         intended

[The second principle of church growth that is crucial to understand and
apply is...]

II. THE STRONG MUST BEAR WITH THE WEAK

   A. CHURCH GROWTH IS ENHANCED...
      1. When strong members understand the weakness in others
         a. As the church evangelizes...
            1) There will always be babes in Christ
            2) There will always be those who are weak
         b. As the church grows, such growth can be messy - cf. Pr 14:4
            1) Many new members haven't had the benefit of good role
               models
            2) Some families may not know their duties as parents,
               spouses, children
            3) It will take time for many Christians to learn principles
               of godly living
      2. When strong members remember their duty toward the weak
         a. To bear with the infirmities of the weak - Ro 15:1-2; Ga 6:
            1-2
            1) Not to please ourselves
            2) To restore those overtaken in faults
         b. To be patient with the weak - 1Th 5:14
            1) We must accommodate the weak in order to grow ("Growth
               comes out of weakness")
            2) Many churches fail to grow because the strong expect too
               much from the weak
      -- With strong members bearing with weak members, the help needed
         for the weak to grow will be provided

   B. CHURCH GROWTH IS ENDANGERED...
      1. When strong members become disheartened
         a. They become weary of well-doing - cf. Ga 6:9
         b. They begin to feel their labor is in vain - cf. 1Co 15:58
         c. They think about leaving to go elsewhere
            1) Where they may be more appreciated
            2) Where there may be others willing to work
      2. When strong members lose their source of strength; yet
         consider...
         a. Longsuffering is a fruit of the Spirit - Ga 5:22-23
         b. Longsuffering with joy is a gift from God - Col 1:10-11
         c. Becoming disheartened can be an indication the strong are in
            trouble
            1) Because God's strength is unlimited - cf. Ep 3:20
               a) We may be depending too much on our own strength
               b) Not looking to the Lord for the strength He provides
                  - Ep 6:10-13
            2) We may forget...
               a) The joy of serving for the Lord's sake alone, even if
                  others do not appreciate it
               b) The joy of eating cake, even when there is no icing on
                  the cake
            3) We must not lose our perspective
               a) There will always be the weak
               b) Dealing with weak is necessary training for future
                  shepherds and teachers
         -- If the strong members become weak, a church cannot grow!

CONCLUSION

1. We have considered two principles of church growth...
   a. Each part must do its share
   b. The strong must bear with the weak

2. We have seen that...
   a. Growth is enhanced when each part does its share
   b. Growth is endangered when members don't do their part
   c. Growth is enhanced when the strong bear with the weak
   d. Growth is endangered when the strong themselves become weary

3. May we consider what we all need to be doing to help the Lord's
   church grow...
   a. Fulfill our function in the body of Christ
   b. Do our share in the work of the church
   c. Grow as we should in the service of the Lord
   d. Bear with the infirmities of the weak
   e. Look to Lord for strength to avoid becoming disheartened

   "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always
   abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is
   not in vain in the Lord." - 1Co 15:58

   "And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season
   we shall reap if we do not lose heart." - Ga 6:9
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