Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
Arpil 26, 1962

The How And The Who In The Growth Of The Church

Jerry F. Bassett, Antioch, California

Having enumerated in Ephesians 4:8-12 the work for which Christ originally gave gifts unto men, and having said that one result of these works was that those benefitting by them should "be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine," the apostle Paul then went on to specify the power by which Christians are to become strong and grow to maturity in Christ. Hear the apostle as he says, "But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things which is the head, even Christ; From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love." (Eph. 4:15-16) From this text consider the following two specific and highly significant points.

How The Church Is To Grow

The only power which God has provided for both the numerical and spiritual growth of the church is "speaking the truth in love." This truth is defined as being the word of God, (John 17'17) which word is spoken to us in the gospel of Christ. (Eph. 1:13) Thus, when those in Christ preach the gospel (implying that they themselves have learned and are living it) the ultimate result Is the "increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love." Further, since the body spoken of in the text is the church (1:22-23), it follows that the preaching of the gospel Is that which results in the growth of the church.

Brethren who ask how the church can be made to grow have God's answer right here; by "speaking the truth in love." If people are being kept out of the church because the community is filled with denominational error what shall you do about it? The answer, preach the truth that exposes the error and that instructs men in the right way of God. If people are being kept out of the church because they are deceived by the mockery of atheism what shall you do about it? God's answer is still the same, preach the truth! If people are kept out of the church by their own indifference to the gospel what shall you do about it? At this point many brethren are answering, "attract them with youth rallies, summer camps, softball teams, ice cream, etc.," but this answer is not found in God's word. He adamantly instructs, preach the truth! which is to say that if the truth will not attract a person to God's blessings then that person cannot be attracted thereto! If the church itself is infested with error, what do you do about that? Just here many brethren answer "ignore it and maybe it will go away," but again, this is not God's answer. His reply is still the same regardless of either the source or the residence of the error; preach the truth! (2 Tim. 4:1-4)

Regardless of the glitter that some other thing may have in the eyes of men, the truth of the gospel is still God's power to make the church grow, which brings us to the second point to Abe considered in this study.

Who Is To Make The Church Grow?

Every member is responsible to help make the church grow, and this means you and me! Further, since God's power to this end is preaching the truth, it follows that every member of the church is then charged with the task of teaching the gospel as ability and opportunity exist. (To which also we add that both ability and opportunity can be increased by diligent study, training, and work.) From Ephesians 4:15-16, note the connection of two facts which stand in proof of the above statement, "But speaking the truth in love according to the effectual working the measure of every part (member, J.F.B.) maketh increase of the body. Thus, the church grows when every member speaks the truth in love.

One of the greatest detriments to the growth of the church in our day, and perhaps in any other, is that brethren think of the work of the church in terms of "they" rather than in terms of "we." Referring to the local church of which they are members and to those carrying on its work, far too many are always saying, "If they would do this or that, the church would grow," or "if they would stop doing this or that the church would be better off." These people need to realize that they are just as accountable for doing their part to see to it that the church grows as are the elders, the preacher, the Bible class teachers, or anyone else. These lethargic, slothful, complaining members are as worthless to the church as is a broken arm to the physical body, and just as painful to endure. It is God's will that the "body increase according to the effectual working in the measure of every part," and each of us needs to learn and remember this fact, and then get busy, and stay busy, shouldering the responsibility it enjoins upon us. The church will grow as it should numerically and spiritually, only when, and if, we do so work.


The truth of the gospel is God's power to make the church grow and the effective use of that power, and thus the growth of the church itself, depends upon you and me doing everything we can to bring all men to obey that truth. As we do this, nothing less of more, as surely as God's word is true and stedfast, the church will grow in a way that pleases Him.