From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. (Ephesians 4:16)
Growth can be encouraged and facilitated by providing the conditions wherein growth takes place but we cannot make it happen. That is God's job. --So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow (1 Cor. 3:7).
A church, however, that works in cooperation with God's design will find itself growing. --For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building (1 Cor. 3:9).
The following conditions yield fertile ground for God to bring growth:
The Word of God is the standard against which all is measured. Both the means and the end in growth must be filtered through the lens of Scripture. Just because a tactic or program seems to work doesn't mean it is of God. God will never violate what He has already stated in His Word.
Whatever is done must be done in the Lord's power and authority with the goal of honoring and pleasing Him. Growth will occur when we are more concerned that people encounter Jesus than that they have a good impression about us, our programs, our methods, or our theological and philosophical bents.
Because in Christ there is no condemnation, instead of pouring energy into comparing or competing with one another, we can build up one another. Surrounded by grace (acceptance, forgiveness, affirmation, kindness), we then become motivated to live humbly with one another and serve others in love.
As we serve one another through the use of our spiritual gifts and the fulfillment of the one-another commands, we will be building-up one another. We will be encouraging, admonishing, and spurring on one another. As the world around us sees the life of Christ being built in us, they will be drawn to Him.
God desires that we grow. What can we do to assure that the conditions necessary for growth are in place? You will find some suggestions in the Body Life Ministry Manual.
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