LifeWay has documented, “Most American churches now have fewer than 100 in weekend worship attendance.” This stat was pre-COVID.
1. What are some advantages and disadvantages of a smaller church?
2. What are some advantages and disadvantages of a larger church?
Jesus’ main reason for coming to Earth was to provide the opportunity for salvation. Mark 10:45 says, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Jesus came to die so we could live. He came to pay the price for our sins (something we could not do on our own). With this said, evaluate how He spent His time.
3. When and how often did Jesus spend His time and energy on larger crowds?
4. With whom did Jesus spend the majority of His time? Why?
There are several answers to this question. Obviously, He daily and even nightly spent endless hours with the Heavenly Father. Another valid answer would be the twelve disciples. This is interesting as one might think He would constantly choose to be with twelve men when thousands needed Him. However, there is another possible answer. Jesus invested in three specific disciples.
Luke 8:50-52 describes the healing of Jairus’ daughter, “But Jesus on hearing this answered him, ’Do not fear; only believe, and she will be well.’ And when he came to the house, he allowed no one to enter with him, except Peter and John and James, and the father and mother of the child. And all were weeping and mourning for her, but he said, ”Do not weep, for she is not dead but sleeping.”
Luke 9:28-29 describes the transfiguration, “Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray. And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white.”
5. Who did Jesus take with Him on special occasions?
I found it interesting that Jesus chose these three men – Peter, John, and James. Later, we see how prominent Peter and John are in the early church, but I have wondered why John’s brother (James) was invited instead of Peter’s brother (Andrew). Either way, Jesus specifically chose to speak into the lives of individuals. He did speak to the crowds, but the majority of His time was built on sharing life.
The key to spiritual growth is discipleship, mentoring, and a one to one intentional relationship. This was Jesus’ model and was also applied by Paul. Although he seemed to be a lone wolf, he seemed to have others around him (Barnabas and Silas). While he served the Lord, he kept others nearby.
My favorite verse on growth is 1 Thessalonians 2:8, “So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.”
6. What two things did Paul share with the Thessalonians?
7. What does it mean to share “our own selves?”
Paul lived his life investing in other lives and he taught others to do the same. In 2 Timothy 2:2, Paul instructs Timothy about one of the keys to ministry, “And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.”
8. What model is being described here?
Philippians 4:9 adds, “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me - practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”
9. How did the Philippians know about the Christian life and growing in the Lord?
Later, we read about fellow believers helping another believer named Apollos. Privately, intentionally, and personally they reach out to him as recorded in Acts 18:24-26, “Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, competent in the Scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord. And being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.”
10. What is described here?
Throughout Scripture, it is clear that we need each other. Evangelistically, large events are helpful, but they are most effective when a relative or friend invite them and explain the Gospel to them. Even gatherings are best viewed as a group of individuals instead of a crowd. It is a group that needs each other and has each other’s back. Finally, this is how growth works. It is individuals intentionally investing in others one to one.
11. Who has helped you in your spiritual journey and growth? How?
12. Who are you intentionally helping grow in the Lord?
13. Who has God placed in your circle of influence whom you should reach out to and help grow in the Lord? How will you do it?
I like Francis Chan’s observation, “We reduce discipleship to a canned program, and so many in the church end up sidelined in a spectator mentality that delegates disciple making to pastors and professionals, ministers and missionaries.”
14. What are the strengths and weaknesses of programs?
One to one is the key to growth. Actually, as we help others, we end up growing ourselves and experiencing a deeper joy in the Lord.
“Making disciples of Jesus
is the overflow of the delight
in being disciples of Jesus.”
“Until you have given up yourself to Him
you will not have a real self.”