Acts 9:31 reads,
“So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.”
Following a section on the difficulties the newly converted Saul faced in joining the church, this verse stood out to me because it seems to connect the way in which the church lived–“in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit”–with its growth.
Why is this noteworthy? Well, because there are roughly 18 million church growth books that offer you the one surefire way to “grow your church.” I am not one to think that anyone, however talented or creative or holy, can come up with the solution for church growth. Nor am I one to think that we should focus much of our time and energy on this matter. If one is to do so, though, it seems a good idea to start with the Bible and its testimony regarding growth.What, then, does this verse say to us about the means by which we grow the growth? Well, nothing we wouldn’t already find out from out the Word. Our local churches need to “fear the Lord” and taste “the comfort of the Spirit” as we live boldly in a fallen world, sharing the gospel and living it out in our communities. That, it would seem, is our basic approach to church growth.
This is a most comforting mandate, though. We need to fear the Lord, and we need to taste the Spirit’s comfort. Let us start there, trust the Lord, work very hard to glorify Him through our evangelism and radically different and attractive corporate life, and leave whatever comes to Him, staying open all the while to counsel and encouragement from others.