“but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ” (
Growth is normal. We are designed that way. As we get older, we grow up—our knowledge increases, our body gets bigger and stronger, our vocabulary expands, our abilities develop—all this, and more. It is an aberration—something has gone tragically wrong—when we see an adult who still functions as a child.
So, God has created His people with the capacity of growth. It is the normative experience for His Body, the church, to grow stronger in faith and larger in size. The different members of the church ought to be developing—growing in grace and knowledge—and as they come together seeing the entire church expand spiritually, as well as numerically.
Of course numbers matter. We count people because people count. Each one is a precious soul that Jesus paid the greatest price to purchase. The church is to give itself to extending its witness as wide as the world.
But, the numbers are not so much a direct goal as the product of spiritual maturity. Again, it is the norm for children to grow up and reach maturity with adulthood bringing the capability for reproducing babies. Thus, when the church is growing in Christ, the evidence of this is we take on the likeness of our Father, and are used to help birth more spiritual infants into the church.
How does this spiritual growth occur? We help each other. While it is true that we ought to study God’s Word personally and have the privilege individually to open God’s Book and hear from Him, it is also in a family that growth occurs. In this case, the family of faith is the local church. Others lovingly speak truth into our lives. The community provides a corrective so that we do not develop either wrong beliefs or behaviors. As we gather together there is a church home where we are challenged, corrected, comforted and cared for so that we develop into faithful, fruitful disciples. I need my brothers and sisters to speak into my life—and you need to hear what I have to say to you also.
If we are spiritually stagnant in our church—if we are not growing to be like Christ, and therefore growing in outreach to those about us who are spiritually homeless—let us inquire as to why. Plainly, there is a problem. Growth is normal. But, take caution that you do not blame “those people at the church” or “that preacher.” Perhaps this may be a problem. But, where I need to take a look first is in the mirror to perceive what I am doing to grow myself, and how I am making a contribution to the growth in godliness of the entire assembly. Does the mirror of God’s Word reveal a mature disciple?