Most churches would love to grow by conversion, but few actually do. That is not usually for a lack of resources, including seminars, methods, programs, and consultants. There is nothing inherently wrong with these, but when it comes to church growth perhaps it is time to “go back to the basics” and examine the very first church as described in Acts 2.

First, note that they “continued steadfastly” (42). They focused continually on studying and living out the teachings of the apostles and scripture (doctrine), growing in Christlikeness with other believers (fellowship), celebrating the death and resurrection of Christ (breaking bread), and communicating with the Lord in prayer. Their devotion to Christ and each other was “full-time,” and it showed.

Second, notice the scope of their influence—they followed Christ and reflected Him to their community. The church had “favor with all of the people,” including people outside of the church. This was not a restricted club limited to a building, but a dynamic fellowship willing to reach anyone, anywhere with the gospel message.

Finally, the early Christians recognized the most important truth of all, the source of their power. They knew that true church growth comes from the Lord as He “added to the church daily those who were being saved.”

And the same way God grew the church then is the same way He grows them now. It does not happen automatically, but as He uses the witness of His people. That might be through the preached word (as with Peter), through the shared word (as with Philip; Acts 8), or through acts of kindness, service, and sacrifice that we find throughout the book. In our churches today, may we “continue steadfastly” to do the same.