Do You Want Big Numbers?
I cannot imagine a congregation of the Lord’s people who would not want their numbers to increase. In the book of Acts we find growth. “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.” (Acts 2:41) “Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” (Acts 2:47) “And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.” (Acts 5:14) It seems clear to me that the early church grew, and I believe there are some fundamental reasons why.
- Starting in Acts, chapter two, the apostles preached the gospel. Paul stated it best in Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
- The gospel they preached was without compromise. Paul told young Timothy to preach “in season, out of season” (2 Timothy 4:2). This simply means to preach the truth without fear or favor. The gospel they preached was Christ – centered. These New Testament preachers were not self – promoters. The church at Corinth had a problem understanding the difference between the preacher and the message of Christ. Paul wrote to them concerning this in First Corinthians: “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius; Lest any should say that I baptized in mine own name.” (1 Corinthians 1:10 – 15). Paul was not worried about how many people he had baptized. He saw the difference in promoting Christ and promoting himself.
There are other ways to increase your numbers, but they certainly would not be legitimate.
- You could go the entertainment route. The main problem with this approach is that we simply have no authority to do it. I am sure we could have bigger crowds if we were to have plays, music shows, and such, but, typically, when the “fun and games” are gone, so are the people.
- You could soften the preaching, but, this, too, is not in accordance with God’s plan.
- You could campaign for members from other congregations, but this is unethical, unfair, and only gives the illusion of growth, not true growth. We find none of this type of growth in the New Testament church.
- You could adopt an “open – door policy.” This could be carried out by accepting people without expecting true conversion. Some churches will accept people without regard for the words of our Lord in Luke 13:3: “I tell you, Nay: but, except you repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” You could take into your membership a couple in an unscriptural marriage, but this would violate Matthew 19:9.
I love the Lord’s Church and want to see growth, but not for my own ego. I simply want to preach the word and let God give the increase rather than doing unscriptural and unethical things to draw big crowds.