Every pastor, church leader or concerned member of a local church, would like to see their church grow in quantity and quality. Quantitative growth is encouraging to both the leaders and the members as a whole, because it shows an effective ministry is going on. This, in fact, is the pattern in the book of Acts. Therefore, every church should not be content with anything short of noticeable church growth. When we look at most of our Reformed Baptist Churches, can we see the same pattern? For most of our churches, the desire for growth continues to be top on the prayer lists. This, perhaps, is as a result of the fact that in the last few years, we have witnessed very little numerical growth. The common trend appears to be a decrease in numbers, or at best a constant membership.

In this first issue of Reformation Zambia the topic covered is Church Growth, since this is a common cry for most of our churches. Could it be that there is something we are not doing to attain higher levels of church growth? Could it be that there is something which the early church did, which we are not doing? What are the difficulties we need to overcome in order to change this trend? Is it a question of re-examining the methods we are using in our evangelistic efforts? How come others are even talking in terms of “mega-churches”? Is there anything we can learn from them, or should we be content with our low numbers?

In considering this topic, the value of the book of Acts cannot be over-emphasised. This is because the events recorded in Acts happened in real life situations. We can, therefore, compare ourselves with the first century church by examining the various examples of church growth in the book, especially the relevance of the preaching ministry. What the apostles preached brought in numbers in the early church. Therefore, what they preached and their attitude to the preaching ministry should be ours as well. Because Acts is our church growth manual, in this issue we examine the phenomenal growth of the first century church.

Your preaching must conform to what the apostles preached, otherwise how can you expect the same anointing of the Holy Spirit that they experienced? The book of Acts shows the relationship of preaching to church growth. In Acts we also see other factors that attracted many to the church. We can learn a lot from this also.

What about the modern church growth movement, how does it compare with the record of Acts? What are its strengths and weaknesses? At best, the church growth

movement is a mixed bag. So its weaknesses must be well understood and avoided, while perhaps embracing some of its strengths. The biggest problem posed by this movement is the issue of preaching and prayer. In most of their literature, they only make a passing reference to preaching and prayer, if at all any. This is a big contrast to God’s manual on church growth, the book of Acts, where the emphasis is on preaching and not on the methods. For this reason, and many others, this movement must be handled with caution! It pays very little attention to preaching and prayer but instead concentrates on such things as management, marketing in order to form mega-churches. The temptation from this movement can be real, since the first thing people look at, in terms of success, are the numbers. Let us all remain committed to preaching and prayer and flee the temptation offered by the church growth movement. Our members must be much in prayer for the most honoured principle of church growth, i.e. preaching.


If our churches are going to grow in numbers, we must also be convinced of the necessity of evangelism. Evangelism is at the heart of any healthy church growth. “Beyond dispute, the Christian church is the God-appointed agent of evangelism” (Kuiper, 1978:118). This matter, being so important is thoroughly examined in this issue by showing the necessity of evangelism and also the involvement of the pastor and the church members. Every pastor must lead by example in this work, and not just be content with preaching and encouraging members to invite sinners to our morning Sunday service. Leading by example will enable every concerned member to see that evangelism is the church’s number one priority. Members must see that the Bible plainly teaches that evangelism is the task of the organised church (Kuiper, 1978:118), and so all members must evangelise.


For us in the Reformed Movement, the relationship between God’s Sovereignty  and evangelism needs to be well understood. We must always remember that God’s Sovereignty does not nullify the necessity, duty and the urgency of evangelism. “ The Church that does not evangelise will fossilize , that is dry up and become useless to Christ and the whole world”, (Reisinger, 1982:15). What is clear from scripture is that we are commanded to go and make disciples of all men. This is so because the elect can only be saved upon hearing the Gospel. If anything, God’s Sovereignty should  energise us, because God will certainly save his own.


Various God honouring methods are pointed out, bearing in mind that each church operates  within a given context and must seek to effectively minister  to its unconverted “world”.  By far what needs to be emphasised to our members is personal evangelism. The command is still “ Go Ye” and then whatever the method,  there must be the preaching and the teaching. The work of evangelism is not without its difficulties, and perhaps, this explains the minimal growth experienced in most of our churches. Various hindrances are examined, together with the solutions.  May the Lord help us overcome whatever difficulties have been standing in the way so that our churches begin to be crowded, not only with seekers, but converts as well.