Multiplication Evangelism Growth
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33. Multiplication Evangelism Growth

One By One

Multiplication evangelism growth is evangelism one by one. If just one person brings another to a commitment to Christ each week and that person does the same for someone else the next week, that is multiplication evangelism growth. In theory, in thirty-two years, the world's whole population would become Christian by this method. This hypothesis may be a divine possibility, but practicality is something else.

Many Sided Love

Christ's many-sided love for the world is like the parent's love for a child. We have a definition of the "many-sided love" in Saint Paul's words in 1 Corinthians 13.4-5, "love is patient. Love is kind. It does not envy, boast, and is not proud and rude. It is not self-seeking, nor easily angered." Saint Paul writes from his own childhood experiences in 1 Corinthians 13.11, "When I was a child, I talked like a child, thought like a child, and reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me." This many-sided love is best mature. The English cleric and writer Hugh Reginald Haweis (1838-1901) explained, "love is a many-sided sacrifice; it means thoughtfulness for others; it means putting their good before self-gratification. Love is impulse, no doubt, but true love is impulse wisely directed."

Addition Growth

MouthDr. James Kennedy (1930-2007 AD), founder of the Evangelism Explosion and a very successful pastor, described two possible routes to world evangelism. The first is to hold a crusade. If one thousand people commit themselves to Christ every night, not just for a week or a month but for years and years, the church will grow. The number of Christians, however, will not even keep pace with the birth rate. This simple definition describes the phrase "addition growth."

Multiplication Growth

A better way is "multiplication growth." The Early Church growth record began with the phrase in Acts 2.47, "the Lord added to their number daily those he saved." Later, in Acts 6.1a, we read, "In those days when the number of disciples increased." This rapid evangelistic expansion can be called multiplication evangelism growth. Contrast this with the actual growth pattern of many Western churches today. North American mainstream church growth is experiencing subtraction or division, unlike parts of Africa, China, South Korea, and South America, where multiplication growth continues strongly today.

Growth Pattern

Holy Spirit Stained GlassOur current Western Church's trend is not an addition but subtraction. In North America, the tendency is to close and sell any church unable to pay its bills. Some new churches receive financial support and a core group of members from neighboring congregations. In Africa, China, and South America, there is still rapid evangelism growth taking place. There are more Christians in China now than in the whole of Europe!

Shrinking Congregations

Most mainline churches such as the Episcopal, Anglican, and United Churches in North America have shrunk about twenty percent over the last ten years. Shrinkage will possibly continue to happen in the foreseeable future, even though the population is growing ten percent over the same period! Some people put it down to a demographic change, and while this may be partly true, the more significant factor is the secular society in the last twenty or more years. Congregational shrinking is a massive challenge today, particularly in the USA, Canada, and Britain. There is still rapid growth in Africa, with one diocese reporting opening up a new church weekly, and in South Korea, thousands from the house church movement belonging to one church. ✞

First Church Denominations

Jewish and Gentile Christians were the first Early Church denominations. Their differences defined the fact that they were denominations. At Corinth, there was a schism between several parties who followed different Christian leaders' teachings. In 1 Corinthians 3.4-6, we read, "For when one says, 'I follow Paul,' and another, 'I follow Apollos,' are you not mere human beings? What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe - as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow."

Binding Agents

These differences are sometimes essential to bind groups together, but they are also divisive at other times. One of the earliest church controversies producing the first denominations concerned Jewish and Gentile Christians. A dispute arose over some Gentiles eating meat offered to idols. Their Jewish brethren, who wanted them to keep all the Law's ceremonies and regulations, criticized them, especially concerning contact with animals' blood. On the other hand, Gentile Christians felt the new church should lay aside Judaism's limiting traditions to win new followers.

First Splits

Image of armControversy seems to produce higher church growth. In Acts 6.1, we read, "In those days when the of disciples' number was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because the church overlooked their widows in the daily food distribution." At this development stage, the church was almost entirely of Jewish composition. There were two Jewish groups within the fellowship. Grecian Hellenistic Jews were born outside the Holy Land. They spoke Greek and were more Greek than Hebrew in their attitudes and outlook. On the other hand, Hebraic Jewish persons were those who spoke Palestinian Aramaic or Hebrew and preserved Jewish culture and customs.

Food Banks

Widows needed food help, but no one cared for them, so the church took responsibility. These two denominations squabbled over solutions to these fundamental issues. It reminds us of the recent squabbling between modern Jewish persons and Arab counterparts in the Middle East over Jerusalem. Christ in himself breaks down the wall which divides Jewish believers and Gentiles. He brings both together into one Body. Denominations need to know that in Jesus, as in Galatians 3.28, "there is neither Jewishness nor Greekness, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus."

Jesus' World Love

DoveEvangelism relates to Jesus' world love. "Without love," said Saint Paul, "I am a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal." Being in Christ and filled with the Holy Spirit unifies God's people in love. Philippians 2.1-2 adds, "If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose." Jesus himself added to this in Matthew 22.35-40, "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind' is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.'"

Love Sweet Love

In his letter to the Corinthian Church, Saint Paul is concerned to show the truth of the song, "What the world needs now is love, sweet love." This kind of Jesus' love needs to be practical, long-suffering and dedicated. Christian love is generous when famine or tragedy sweeps through their own or another country. It means listening to each other's concerns and attending to someone talking to you. Love is better than spiritual gifts. Saint Paul concludes in 1 Corinthians 13.1-3. Without Jesus' love, spiritual gifts are no use, "If I speak without love in men and angels' tongues, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal." What use is that?

"Many-Sided Love"
by Ron Meacock © 2021

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