Want an interesting study? Take a look at how Luke describes the growth of the church in the book of Acts. It’s not the way that we usually describe the growth of the church.
I noticed a while ago that Luke sometimes used a phrase: “The word of God increased” (Acts 12:24). What a great way to put it. As David Peterson writes in his commentary, “The church which is the creature of the word grew.” As our churches grow, I hope it can be said that our growth is the growth of the word.
I noticed another phrase recently. When Philip first preached the gospel in Samaria, Luke describes the result: “So there was much joy in that city” (Acts 8:8). The spread of the gospel is the spread of joy. Spurgeon said, “No city flourishes so well as that which has a clear, powerful, gospel bell ringing in the midst of it…We long to see this joy in London.”
If the church ever grows significantly in my city, I would be a happy man if it could be said:
- the word of God increased there
- there was much joy in the city
That’s the type of church growth I long for.