/ Andrew Kerr

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.