I don’t know of a mark that is more important than this mark of a true church. This statement, I hope doesn’t diminish the other marks, but I would state without hesitation that if there is not, as Dever puts it: “Biblical discipleship and growth” the other marks will be nonexistent. Without discipleship and growth there will be no desire for our congregation to be accountable to one another, nor will there be a desire to get the gospel right, nor a desire for biblical theology and so on. I believe this is the hinge on which all the other marks swing. A person who never grows in godliness can hardly call themselves a believer. The fact that one is alive spiritually necessitates that there is growth. That certainly doesn’t mean that there are never any set backs, but it means that there is a passion to become more like Christ. There is an overwhelming desire today especially among pastors to tout numbers. More numbers mean more recognition, more recognition means more popularity, and more popularity will result in more praise - this praise has a tendency to increase pride which certainly none of us need any help with! Now this certainly shouldn’t diminish the desire to see more people come into our church - we should be passionate and joyful about seeing people come to Christ. But we must keep in mind that all we must do is read through the churches in revelation and we will find most of them seem to be doing wonderfully on the outside, but Christ sees them as deficient on the inside. While I have enjoyed seeing people saved and rejoice in the numbers who have joined our church over the last several weeks, I must realize that this is not what should drive Trinity Baptist Church. After all, there will be times we have several decisions and we will rejoice over that, but I we will not go into depression when there are no decisions-we will have confidence in the Word of God and will keep proclaiming it! There are times that the “growth” is in spiritual knowledge and depth among the flock – not necessarily in new decisions or converts. We must trust God to know what He is doing and when He wants to do it!
Now usually I spend a great deal of time emphasizing some of the major points of our book “What is a Healthy Church?”, but below I want to tell you what we at Trinity Baptist Church should be rejoicing in. As great as our Sunday School and Worship attendance has been, what is utterly shocking is our numerical growth on Sunday night! I feel the need to highlight some areas of what biblical growth really looks like:
• We have had great attendance on Monday night outreach!
• I had a couple come up to me Sunday night who has been married 49 years and shared with me how God was working in their marriage.
• I have had multiple members come up to me, ready to begin ministries and not waiting for the new Pastor to begin a “new program.”
• There are informal gatherings of church members after every single Sunday night service. Even after listening to the long winded Preacher!
• There have been some instances of members coming together for reconciliation.
• Our members at Trinity have been giving in incredible ways! From our general offering, missions and our Love Offering. This shows our focus is not just fixed within our walls but looking out to the “fields.”
• We have had husbands begin leading their family’s in sacrificial ways.
• We have had wives learning biblical submission.
• You have been joyfully receiving the Word of God each Sunday and Wednesday.
These are just a few of the biblical growth signs that are going on at Trinity! You have made it a joy not only to preach but also to Pastor you! There are some who desire for their church to be on the front of the state paper, others who long for a certain number of people, at Trinity let’s make a commitment to first and foremost be a church that is growing in holiness and we will not compete with Christ. After all it is Christ who said “I will build my Church.”