LEADERSHIP AND CHURCH GROWTH
Leadership is the ability and capacity of someone to lead, direct and guide others to accomplish a goal. Leadership is not just talking the lead but taking the lead. It is not occupying a position but making outstanding contributions and impacts. It is not just about ordination titles but remarkable input. The real worth of a leader is in his ability to profitably manage himself, his subjects, and his resources to fulfill his given task.
Leadership is very critical to church growth. The extent to which a church grows is largely dependent on the leader. Ecclesiastes 10:16-17
Growth is the act or process of development of a thing. It is a gradual but consistent increase.
A church is a body of Christians worshiping in a particular building or constituting one congregation.
Church growth therefore means the development, the gradual but consistent increase of the congregation of Christians in an assembly.
Growth can be divided into the following categories:
CHURCH NUMERICAL GROWTH:
The early church started with 120 members in the upper room. 3000 souls added one day (Acts 2:41).
Following is daily addition (Acts 2:47). Then, another 5000 souls added (Acts 4:4)
Then the church began to multiply (Acts 6:1). The church in Jerusalem multiplied (Acts 6:7)
Multiplication moved from just one congregation increase to churches springing up in other locations; Judea, Galilee, Samaria (Acts 9:31), until we lost count (Acts 19:18-20).
HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?
It happened simply by evangelism; going to make disciples of men.
Go out with the power of the Holy Spirit for miracles, signs and wonders. For every church that will grow numerically, having outreaches must be a priority. The need for outreaches must be taught and emphasized. Paul taught it – II Corinthians 5:17-19. Deliberate efforts must be made to nurture the souls that are coming in.
CHURCH SPIRITUAL GROWTH:
This is the process of church members becoming more and more like Jesus Christ. When we place our faith in Jesus, the Holy Spirit begins the process of making us more like Him; conforming us to His image. Spiritual growth is perhaps best described in II Peter 1:3-8, which tells us that by God’s power, we have “everything we need” to live lives of godliness, which is the goal of spiritual growth. We need to realize that what we need comes “through our knowledge of Him,” which is the key to obtaining everything we need. Our knowledge of Him comes from the Word, given to us for our edification and growth. The old, sinful nature begins to give way to the new, Christ-like nature (Romans 6-7). Spiritual growth is a lifelong process that depends on our study and application of God’s Word (II Tim. 3:16-17) and our walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-26). He desires us to grow in. We can ask God to increase our faith and knowledge of Him. God desires for us to grow spiritually, and He has given us all that we need to experience spiritual growth. With the Holy Spirit’s help, we can overcome sin and steadily become more like our Saviour, Jesus Christ.
In II Thessalonians 1:3, Paul was happy that their faith was growing exceedingly.
HOW DOES A LEADER ENSURE THAT SPIRITUAL GROWTH HAPPENS?
TRAVAILING – (GALATIANS 4:13, 19):
Travailing means doing a painful, difficult or burdensome work; toiling. This is done intentionally for the purpose of Christ being formed in converts until they are fully established in Christ. Travailing can be likened to a mother labouring in pains until her child is born. And any mother who goes through the pain of childbearing cannot help but be concerned about the welfare, growth and development of the child.
Travailing to birth, leads to travailing to ensure growth. It takes the form of (i) travailing in prayers and (ii) teaching the word.
- TRAVAILING IN PRAYERS:
Paul is an example of a leader who travailed in prayers. He prayed ceaselessly for the spiritual growth of the church (Eph. 1:15-23, Col. 1:4-11).
- TEACHING THE WORD:
The word has to be taught. Without the word, there can’t be spiritual growth (I Peter 2:2, Acts 20:32)
As a leader, “apt to teach” (1 Timothy 3:2). Teach the word by all means like a nurse tends to a patient (I Thess. 2:7-14)
The word has to grow – Acts 6:7, Acts 12:24, Acts 13:44, Acts 13:49, Acts 15:35, Acts 18:11, Acts 19:10, Acts 19:20, Acts 20:20.
The exhortation of brethren through the word – Acts 2:40, 11:23, 13:15, 14:22, 15:32, 20:2). Focus on the people and not on programmes. Make your Sundays special and inviting.
Organize multiple services. Let the word grow and prevail.
Man is spirit, soul and body. Growth from the physical perspective is also important.
Show interest in people’s lives. Listen to their problems.
During counselling sessions, be an encourager. Mourn with those who mourn, rejoice with those who rejoice, go the extra mile to help someone because people are more valuable than money.
Take responsibility and give an account. Leadership is about responsibility.
Be decisive and have initiative. When God saw that man was lonely, He took a decision to create a woman who would be his companion. Be brave – I kings 2:2.
As a leader you must: (a.) See ahead by the spirit (b.) Be trust worthy (c.) Be one step ahead of the church in prayers, Bible reading, Fasting (d.) Don’t be self-centered and self-serving.
(e.) Be ready to serve – Luke 22:26 (f.) Believe that God wants the church to grow (g.) Have a strong desire to see it grow. Conclusively, Acts 20:28 admonishes:
“Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.”
God bless you.
Rev. (Dr) Jane Onaolapo
(G.O. Abundant Life Gospel Church)