Potent Principles for Growing Bigger and Closer

Acts 2

Potent Principles for Growing Bigger and Closer
Illustration by Seth Weber

Do you want to see the reality of new people trusting Christ and at the same time developing closer personal relationships in the church? I do. My heart aches for Christ to be glorified this way.

Healthy churches grow bigger and more personal at the same time. Just look at the book of Acts. The church went from 120 to 3,000 literally over night in Acts 2: “There were added that day about 3,000 souls … and all who believed were together and had all things in common.”

Healthy churches grow bigger and more personal at the same time.

Early in Acts, the first megachurch was also an amazingly personal church. Is it reasonable for us to experience numerical growth and close and personal relationships today? Yes. The number is always up to God. But the principles are laid out in Scripture and we can experience the joy in them.

We are in a season where many people are joining Faith Bible Church. As this happens, there are a few potent principles enacted in Acts 2:42-47 that bring us close together and make non-Christians take notice. These happen “day by day” or, as we might say, “little by little.”

Potent Principles for Gatherings

There are six potent principles in Acts 2:42-47.

  1. Talk about God as he has shown himself in Scripture. “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching” (2:42). We gather together to hear from Christ in His Word. Hearing the Word of Christ together is central to close spiritual relationships. In conversations after the service, over donuts and coffee, or in Growth Group, be ready to share, “It was a good reminder that….” Ask someone, “Was there a good reminder for you today? What was interesting to you about the message?”
  2. Share life. Every person is made in the image of God. Every Christian is a member of the family. We want to share life with the family of God. The idea of fellowship (2:42) is the sharing of all of life. Take the initiative of learning and sharing lives. Hospitality is essential (2:46). Make it your aim to share a meal or time in a personal setting. In our ministry, much of this happens in Growth Groups. The Apostle Paul speaks of ministry “house to house” (Acts 20:20), where teaching and relationship is highly interactive.
  3. Celebrate the Lord’s Supper. This might seem strange to deepen personal relationship or to be a testimony to the lost, but the Lord’s Supper keeps us centered in the most important ways. Every time we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, we magnify the grace and mercy of Christ and admit our neediness of his grace. It reminds us all that we have been made family by the work of Christ on the cross. Be ready to talk about what Christ has done for you with a fellow believer and a non-Christian.
  4. Pray for each other. In conversations, or over texts, ask how you can pray. Set yourself a reminder to follow up and ask how it went. If possible, pray on the spot. Ask others to pray for you. You are in need of God’s grace too.
  5. Share needs. We all have needs. When we share our needs transparently, we make it easier for others to share theirs. This builds amazing unity in a people. In Acts 2, the church “had all things in common” (2:44). You may meet someone’s need one day and have your need met another.
  6. Share resources. On the flip side, we share resources. We give what we can “as any had need” (v. 45). You likely have more resources than you think. You might have a skill to share. You might have something material to give. You might have time to show up and help. You might have a perfect Scripture for a specific need. You might have expertise and experience in an area so you can give valuable counsel.

Little By Little

Close personal relationships are made over time. They are more the product of persistence and follow-up than they are of a few gargantuan efforts. Notice in Acts 2, it was “day by day.” It was interested, caring interactions over time.

Close personal relationships are made over time. They are more the product of persistence and follow-up than they are of a few gargantuan efforts.

Start with the new person near you in the row or foyer. If this is your third week at Faith, everyone is new. Do some work to remember a few new names a week. Pray for them at least once during the week. The next time, get some background and their story. Share your story and what God has done for you. Ask them how it’s going the next time you see them. Ask about challenges and encouragements. As you find out what is important, offer to pray.

Invite a new person to your Growth Group. Growth Groups are intentionally relational. They are relationship accelerators centered on apostolic teaching (2:42). You will talk about God’s Word together, pray for each other, and share life.

Get people in your home. Make it a goal to get someone you don’t know well in your home. This summer a couple that was brand new to Faith had us over, and they have consistently asked for prayer requests from Linda and me. It was very encouraging. They were new, but already our relationship is on a faster pace.

It may be once a quarter or once a month, but time over meals is usually one of the best means to build relationship. Don’t do hospitality to impress, but to help decompress. Life is stressful enough. The goal is to meet deeply personal needs. A bucket of chicken and jojos from the deli counter served on paper plates may allow you enough energy to engage well. Don’t act like you are doing a photo shoot for Magnolia or Architectural Digest. Just close the door to messy rooms. If you like to cook, of course you can. If you like to clean, of course you can, but the goal is shared life in a relaxed setting.

Awe over God’s Word and grace produces love for others (2:43-46). The result of shared life centered on the Gospel is powerful. People are cared for. Needs are met. God’s Word trumpets forward. Whatever the state of your life and soul, be open about it. If you have need, talk about it. If you have abundance, share it. God is glorified, and new believers are added to the church.

They were “praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved” (2:47). May God make us this kind of people.

Dan Jarms

Dr. Dan Jarms is teaching pastor and team leader at Faith Bible Church in Spokane Washington, as well as associate dean at TMS Spokane. He has been married for over 30 years to Linda, and has three adult children. He earned his B.A. in English at the Master’s College, B.Ed. at Eastern Washington University, M.Div and D.Min in Expository Preaching at The Master’s Seminary. His other interests include NCAA basketball, gardening, brick oven cooking.

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