In an assembly of preachers, a man who preached for a large congregation was asked to share what that congregation was doing to promote such growth. Each preacher got his pen ready to take notes of each fantastic program and the ideas that made the large congregation grow.
However, a very unexpected answer was to be given. The speaker said, “We have no organized programs, no promotions, no drives, no advertising, and no buses.” In stunned amazement someone suggested that the preacher must do a lot of personal evangelism. Again, they were surprised when the preacher said that he did not do any excessive amount of visiting. He indicated that most of his time was spent in study for his classes and sermons. Of the last fifty people who had been baptized, the preacher had only worked personally with two of them.
The secret of their success was very simple and in keeping with Biblical principles. They believed in the priesthood of all believers, and this left each member free to develop his own work and ministry. They worked on the principle that each one has a gift from God and that he ought to develop a work around that gift involving those of like interest. Of course, considerable encouragement was given for each member to develop his talents and use them in the work of the Lord.
Indeed, this congregation did have a lot of work taking place. But it was developed in a spontaneous way by the members themselves. Most of the growth had come through Bible studies when the church members invited a few members and some non-members into their homes for a study of the Word of God. They would select a passage of Scripture or a Biblical topic, and study it together. Many such studies were taking place in the congregation at that time.
The concept gets back behind a strong tradition of how “church work” is to be done. It goes back to a Biblical model and it worked practically. Nobody had to wait around for someone to start a special program or project and then put an elder or deacon in charge. Each member was encouraged to use their talents and teach others. The church was growing, because God gave the increase (1 Cor. 3:6-7).
THE AUTHOR’S NOTE: When the late J.T. Marlin passed away I was given many of his notes and outlines. This was in that collection. He would never admit it, but I have always suspected that J.T. was the speaker at that gathering.