An Old Christian Model For New Church Growth

Chat in Corinth

‘Have you heard about the latest Church Growth Model in Corinth? The latest preachers in Acro Creek think they’ve nailed success! O.K., it’s a little alternative, and it’s the opposite to what Paul said (but then again, for some strange reason, he seems to have cancelled his announced visit – some lame excuse about an unforeseen turn of events)! Yet, we cannot help but notice, it does seem very popular: it appears to be working! They’ve definitely had results! The crowds of pagans are flocking! They’re going to extend their buildings! Even better, there’s no suffering, so perhaps we should give it a go.’

Model for Ministry

If that was the chat in Corinth, it would explain Paul’s loving determination to put the record straight, and turn Corinthians back to the Cross. Having explained the nature and glory and hope of the Ministry of the New Covenant, he commends his urgent appeal, by the model minister he is. Effectively, he says, ‘this is how to do the work, this is the Christ’s model for church growth’, as we make our appeal, 2 Corinthians 5.20, ‘Be reconciled to God.’

“We give no offense in anything, that our ministry may not be blamed, but in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God” (2 Corinthians 6.3-4)

Checklist for Laborers

Then he goes on, in 2 Corinthians 6.4b-10, to enumerate the credentials that commend the true ministers of Christ – through faith, by grace, in Christ, they are the marks of the Spirit’s work reproducing the death and life of Jesus in labors for the Gospel. This, Paul says, is the Church Growth Model that REALLY works!

1. In much patience
2. In tribulation
3. In needs
4. In distresses
5. In stripes
6. In imprisonments
7. In tumults
8. In labors
9. In sleeplessness
10. In fastings
11. By purity
12. By knowledge
13. By long-suffering
14. By kindness
15. By the Holy Spirit
16. By sincere love
17. By the Word of Truth
18. By the Power of God
19. By the Armour of Righteousness on the right hand & the left
20. By honor and dishonor
21. By evil report and good report
22. (Counted) as deceivers and yet (really) true
23. As unknown and yet well-known
24. As dying and behold we live
25. As chastened and yet not killed
26. As sorrowful yet always rejoicing
27. As poor yet making many rich
28. As having nothing yet possessing all things

Ministers and members are you embracing Messiah’s Model? Is this not a pattern of ministry of which many of us fall short? Yet I suspect it is also true, as we see His reflection in us, we will obtain encouragement too (2 Corinthians 1.3-7), from the God of all comfort, as we continue, by grace, as servants of the Gospel.

Union and communion with Christ, therefore, should increasingly be our repeated focus of concentration. The traits in the list are the inevitable fruits, to greater or lesser degrees, of all who abide in the crucified, risen, Lord Jesus. Surely ‘now is the time’ to resurrect what is old and make it our New Model of Church Growth. Pray for His power to minister like the Master.


  1. Debbie L October 30, 2017 at 6:42 am #

    Love this! One of the best. We’re traveling full time-visiting a new church every Sunday. One day we’ll settle down and will again be active in church. My husband has served as a deacon in the 3 churches we’ve belonged (only moved membership when we were transferred to another state). Each church has had its issues. Now visiting so many, he feels more comfortable knowing what a Godly church model can be. And here you’ve nailed it. This is a keeper.

    • Andrew Kerr October 30, 2017 at 6:56 am #

      Death is at work in us …life is at work in you!

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