Church Growth and Church Problems
When you hear about the work of God in the 10/40 Window, and it sounds like growth like the book of Acts – what do you think about it? Are you skeptical? Are you excited? Do you wonder if there is more going on?
I recently heard a speaker sharing stories of God’s work in various unreached parts of the world and the report focused on remarkable growth (in numbers), hunger for God’s word, and incredible opportunities. When we hear reports like this, we may be inclined to romanticize God’s work in other places and think that the church is expanding without any hiccups.
But you don’t need to go far in the New Testament to read that the church – which was growing rapidly and expanding in difficult places – had a number of issues. Paul’s Epistles have many rebukes and correctives. Jesus has a lot of issues with the churches mentioned in Revelation chapters 2 & 3.
When we share God’s amazing work by his Spirit through our partners, Engage Today also wants you to know that the growing church also faces many issues and problems.
Here is an excerpt from a journal entry that brother John, Engage Today Maritime representative, shared with us when he was in Indonesia in November:
I talked with a Pastor today who came to the Lord in 2013 after the demons involved in his sister’s witchcraft had made her very sick and out of her mind. At the edge of death, the family turned to a godly Pastor who brought a team to read Scripture out loud, praise the Lord in prayer for his supreme power and to pray for the deliverance of his sister. Before his very eyes his sister’s mind was restored. But she would not respond to the Pastor’s pleading to yield herself to the Saviour who had freed her and restored her mind. Thus the demons returned to afflict her and she became mentally unstable once again. Over the next weeks this happened three times as she was delivered by the team but refused to yield to the Lord Jesus. Finally she surrendered to Christ and has been completely free and healthy ever since. Watching all this drew the brother to the Lord. Today he is a Pastor helping others find true freedom in Christ! Thank you, Lord!
Today we were told that the great need in this area is that many of those who have turned to Christ have simply confessed that they now believe Jesus is the Son of God and Saviour as compared to their former beliefs in witchcraft and the power of the Spirits. Although they now attend church regularly, many continue in the sins of selfishness, anger, drinking, porn, and divorce like the non-Christians around them. They have not entered into the joy of the Lord that comes from walking in Christ in the Spirit in agape love. They do not open their Bibles and claim the promises of Jesus with praise; thus they seek joy and satisfaction in the world.
There are two crosses in the New Testament – the cross of Christ and the cross Christ calls believers to take up daily in repentance from sin and self-indulgence of the flesh. Wherever the church embraces Christ on the cross but does take up their cross as Romans 6 teaches, sin and the flesh continue with little restraint.
Please pray for us as we give them the teaching they need. Please pray for genuine repentance where they honestly turn from everything that robs them of the joy of having a single eye that focuses only on finding all in Jesus and God’s glory. Apparently too many Pastors do not know how to disciple converts after they turn from witchcraft so that they genuinely experience the joy of the Lord with daily praise for God’s riches in Christ as they turn from all sin.
Although the churches are growing in numbers, much sanctification and discipleship are needed.
Engage Today is not interested in only reporting to you that churches are growing numerically. By God’s grace, we are working with our partners to see healthy, holy churches established and multiplying in the unreached parts of the world.
This journal entry gives you a brief snapshot of the situations that ENGAGE teams face when they travel overseas. Each context is different. But we would not be honest if we gave you the idea that the church is growing without problems in the global south.
Pray for teams that go to share God’s word. Pray that the Holy Spirit would be moving mightily to bring conviction of sin. Pray for healthy God honouring growth of the church among the unreached.