Last Update 22nd October, 2016.
“I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49)
Today we’re talking about growing your church in the Spirit and discussing the purpose of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus told the disciples to wait until the Holy Spirit had come, then the disciples went out in mass and preached boldly.
God added well over 8,000 new believers to the church in just 3 days.
Talk about church growth!
Your church needs to grow in the Spirit and this means understanding that the Holy Spirit’s role is to reach the lost.
As you reach outward it’s the Holy Spirit who enables and empowers you.
Acts says don’t you dare preach the gospel until the Holy Spirit has come upon you.
Well guess what, the Holy Spirit is here and he’s ready to pounce into action if you would be bold enough to go out.
I grew up in a Pentecostal/Charismatic Spirit-filled Church with people being slain in the Spirit, praying in tongues and prophesying happening regularly in meetings.
Looking through the book of Acts I understood the purpose of the Holy Spirit is to empower us to be witnesses.
That’s not what I was seeing in the church – the meetings were predictable, same people prophesying the same thing every week and I became frustrated…
I cried out to God because I didn’t understand why I only saw the Holy Spirit at work on believers in churches but not unbelievers outside.
I looked at the Toronto blessing, the Brownsville revival and the Lakeland revival – again I saw the Holy Spirit at work with believers but these cities were not changed.
In Acts it says within days the disciples had turned the city of Jerusalem upside down.
So, hungry for truth, I decided to dig a little deeper into the Scriptures, looking at the Holy Spirit’s intended role in Kingdom expansion and Church building.
Let’s take a brief look at what the Bible has to say about the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the ministry offices and our individual God-given abilities.
“There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord.
And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all” 1 Cor 12
The Gifts of the Holy Spirit
“Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant.” 1 Cor 12:1
Read 1 Corinthians 12 carefully and we learn that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are wisdom, healing, faith, words of knowledge, miracles, prophecy, discernment, tongues and interpretation.
Who do the gifts belong to?
The Holy Spirit. Not you. There’s emphasis here that these gifts are given by the same Spirit for the benefit of everyone, as He wills and as the need arises.
“There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all.
But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all… But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.”
“And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.” Ephesians 4:12
Who do these ministries belong to? They are gift from Jesus to the church, so if you have the gift of an apostle it doesn’t belong to you, it belongs to the church.
Its purpose? To equip the saints and to build up the church.
I no longer say “I’m an evangelist – use me”. The gift belongs to the church which means the gift is not identified until the church begins to draw on the gift.
In Romans 12 Paul stresses the importance of working together for the benefit of the whole church according to our natural talents and abilities.
He includes the gifts of prophecy, serving, teaching, encouraging, giving and leading.
Whether you’re good at administration, media, design, counselling, getting a group of people together, music, welcoming, whatever you’re good at – God has given you these abilities to serve the church, each one of us complementing the other.
As leaders it’s our job to recognise the giftings God has put into our church and help our people to develop and enhance these skills.
“For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.
Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.” Romans 12:4-8
If you don’t know the purpose of something you will abuse it.
The Holy Spirit and His Gifts are to build up the church and do the work of the ministry which is to make disciples.
The Holy Spirit is to empower us to be witnesses and not to have strange meetings.
In most of our minds we think the Holy Spirit is weird…
The world looks at that and says we need psychiatric ward.
Don’t limit the Holy Spirit in your meetings, just limit the weirdness.
I want to see the lost get saved; I want to see that need that the Holy Spirit can minister to.
God never designed the Holy Spirit to be weird. Am I worried about what people think? Yes!
The purpose of the Holy Spirit is to reach the lost not freak them out!
The fastest growing churches in the world right now are ‘Neo-Pentecostal’ or ‘Spirit-Contemporary’ churches; churches that are full on in the Holy Spirit and full on reaching the lost.
They are Spirit-filled AND seeker-sensitive.
Imagine for a second that you invite a guest to your house for lunch, they knock on the door and instead of politely answering the door you just shout “Come in!”.
Then, as they came into the living room you’re making out with your wife – awkward!
Is it wrong to be intimate with your wife? NO, just do it in private. It’s not appropriate when you have guests.
When you invite people into your church don’t be inconsiderate; be appropriate and welcoming.
So when we grow in the Holy Spirit we do not want to grow in weirdness, we want to grow in power. Stop the weirdness.
If you get someone coming into church acting all weird then just pull them aside and ask them to dance like that at home.
If they’re offended they can go to different church.
Does Holy Spirit work through methods or life change? (Hint: It’s life change.)
Step out in boldness, speak to people in the marketplaces and workplaces, in the supermarkets and on the buses and the Holy Spirit will empower you to be a witness. That’s why the Holy Spirit is given to us.
In this how to grow a church series we have discussed church systems, church finances, increasing church attendance, how to make your church a church where the unchurched love to attend – but all this is in vain unless God is adding to your church.
Though we preach the Gospel and provide opportunities and environments for people to encounter God, ultimately salvation is a work of God and it is He who regenerates the old sinful man, replaces the heart of stone with a heart of flesh and leads the new believer closer to Christ.
My hope is that you have found this series thought-provoking and that it will prompt you into further study, applied action and change.
It is God that builds the church and in partnership with Him, I pray that will be eager to learn and develop yourself as a leader of God’s people, that your church will grow and flourish and be all it’s called to be.
I remember seeing my pastor preaching at the front of church and thinking what a glamourous job it – know I now it’s not; pastoring can oftentimes be a thankless and arduous task but I still think it’s the most important and fulfilling job in the world!
By constantly growing yourself, forming a good core of leaders around you, by determining your church’s purpose and putting the right processes in place, by being open to adapting what you do and by casting vision and raising the faith levels of your people and training them to become students of the Word and in partnership with the Holy Spirit, develop and bring our their giftings I pray your church will be bigger, better and stronger.
Join in the discussion or start your own – what have you taken from this series, what will you apply, what have you found interesting and can you see how you can apply it to your local setting?