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What If Your Church Grew Exponentially Overnight?

Keeping up with God
What would your church do if it suddenly grew 25-fold on one day? And then daily after that more were added. What if within a few weeks there were 10,000 adults plus their children?

There just would not be the time and personnel to teach all of these people. You couldn’t meet in your main meeting place anymore. Do you baptize them all? Perhaps you’re quite sure that most of them don’t fully understand. Some no doubt hang on to smatterings (or big chunks) of their former beliefs.

Oh my goodness—all of a sudden you have what you’ve always tried to avoid—a church that is “a mile wide and an inch deep.” God is working in amazing ways to make His Church (your church) grow! How can you and your church keep up with God and what He is doing?

Of course that was exactly what happened in Acts chapters 2–4. Worse yet, Jesus had left them to handle this challenging situation. Sometimes we say that missions is messy. It certainly was messy in those weeks and months following Pentecost. How could the New Testament Church keep up with what God was doing?

When rapid growth is reality
In some places in the Asia-Pacific region the growth of His Church is very much like the above. For example, what on earth should the Church in Nepal do? Between two and three thousand people are coming to Christ weekly! The Church tripled from 350,000 in 2007 to over 1 million in 2013—tripled in six short years! Numerically that means that there is the equivalent of a Pentecost every week.

How can the Church keep up with God? We would challenge them not to have a church that is a mile wide and an inch deep. But what do we say to God? God after all is the One who is making the Church that way. If we believe that (and there isn’t really any other explanation), we might have to say, “Well, maybe it’s OK to be a mile wide and an inch deep. At least for a while.” But then how do we help overcome that weakness and ultimately have a Church that is strong, knowledgeable, and mature? Surely a huge part of the task of the Church in such situations has to be development of and training for many, many, many pastors and leaders.

This scenario is exactly where the Church finds itself in countries like Nepal, India, China, Vietnam, and others. In India the Church is growing at an unprecedented pace—some statisticians tell us the pace is equivalent to that in China, where growth continues at somewhere around 1 million each year (roughly 2700 per day). Among the mountain people in Vietnam it is reported that as many as 70 percent of some tribes have recently come to Christ.

Our role in this challenge
We could dismiss these situations, saying that the challenge rests with the local Church in those countries. That won’t do, however, for the challenge also rests at the feet of the PCA and MTW since God has given us a mandate to help His Church worldwide (Matt. 28).

A huge part of keeping up with God in these situations is very aggressive and widespread development of and training for pastor and leaders. Therefore such leadership development is the largest part of MTW’s role in places like these as we seek to keep up with God and the wonderful work that He is doing. At least one new Bible school or seminary has been started each year in the Asia-Pacific region over the last 10–12 years. Hundreds of three- or four-day seminars each have been held in South Asia and East Asia in the last six years.

No—we are not keeping up with God. But by His Spirit we’re running awfully hard to try.

This article was originally published as “Keeping up with God,” in InVision in September 2013. 

Paul Taylor Jul 19, 2016
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