Bible reference: Acts 6:1-7.
For over a decade, Brother Theodore Andoseh (leader of CMFI) has been studying from the Bible the factors that produce numerical growth in order to apply them to our growth as a ministry (CMFI). One of the outcomes of this years-long study was the core of the message on Day Four of the PPFC: Sustainable growth in numbers and in the quality of that which multiplies. The burden of this fast is about how we maintain our numbers and how we multiply as a ministry and a people.
Factors that produce numerical growth: The Goal of this fast
There are factors that produce numerical growth. It comes down to two basic things: The Blessing of God and the Blessing of man. And it comes down to the issue of Obedience: Those who obey God experience multiplication.
The growth of the church has many different factors and over the last 14 years, BTA has led the brethren to fast for one vector after the other. We have fasted and prayed for miracles; we have fasted and prayed for faith; in 2009, we fasted and prayed for Pentecost; we have fasted and prayed for holiness; and we have fasted and prayed for faithfulness. All of this is so that we may be the kind of people to whom God can give numbers.
In this fast, we are carrying one of those factors that will lead to growth and maintain growth: a large number of other leaders. We are fasting and praying that God will raise a large number of leaders to maintain the growth that He has given to us and launch us into continuing growth for larger numbers. We want to cry out to God to raise many leaders so that the numbers that we already have can be maintained and so that we can grow even more.
Whenever the issue had to do with numbers, the outcome/result was tied to Blessing. That is why the people of the Old Testament sought blessing with their lives.
From the very beginning (Genesis), growth in numbers was tied to blessing. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; …” (Genesis 1:28). So, when God blessed Adam, it was accompanied by multiplication. In the case of Noah, it was the same. Then God said to Noah, … so they can multiply on the earth and be fruitful and increase in number on it (Genesis 8:15-17). Similarly, God’s blessing of Abraham was manifested in growth and multiplication – from one man to a father of nations (Genesis 12:1-3). Abraham’s life is a school in this domain. God made Abraham ‘bless-able’ and led him from one obedience to the other. Abraham fulfilled the conditions for numbers and was blessed. Let us learn from him.
So, we see clearly that the matter of large numbers from God is tied to the blessing of God. The blessing of the LORD brings wealth, without painful toil for it (Proverbs 10:22). It is the blessing of the Lord that multiplies, and those who want to grow in a sustainable way must learn how to have the blessing of God.
In the New Testament, in the Acts of Apostles, when the church started, there are many instances at the beginning when the numbers of the church multiplied geometrically, and there are a number of factors each time that produced that growth in numbers.
In Chapter 2, it was Pentecost – in one day they went from 120 to 3,000 (Acts 2:41). Only one thing had changed, they were filled with the Holy Spirit. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved (Acts 2:47).
In Chapter 4, in one go, 5,000 men (not counting women and children) became part of the church (Acts 4:4). And the Bible attributes that growth to one thing – miracles.
Thus, Pentecost and Miracles are vectors of growth. ZTF calls the latter ‘evangelistic miracles’ – the kind of miracles that produce large numbers of believers.
In Chapter 5, another great increase in numbers is recorded, and the Bible attributes it to one factor: Holiness in the Church. Ananias and Sapphira died, judged by God, and the numbers increased (Acts 5:1-11).
In Chapter 6, the Bible again talks about massive growth, and explosions, and explains the reason – it was the organisation of the church. More leaders were appointed, and the word of God spread and large numbers believed (Acts 6:1-7).
In verse 1, there was already a great number of disciples, growth that was accompanied by problems. The church organised itself by raising seven leaders in addition to the existing 12, and the result was more growth in numbers, including breakthroughs among different categories of people. Thus, these new leaders made sure to maintain the already existing growth and ensured even more growth.
Between the growth in verse 1 and that in verse 7, only one factor changed: Additional leaders – an increase in the number of leaders filled with the Holy Spirit. These new leaders brought something to the gospel that broke through barriers, so the growth in numbers continued and even the quality of growth changed. Having more leaders is the fact that made the difference!
The Elements of the Normal Christian Life
Many of the things that ZTF incorporated into our walk with God are the vectors of blessing. The goal is to make us the kind of people that God can multiply without self-contradiction – as he did with Abraham.
Pentecost brings numbers; Persecutions bring growth; and Miracles bring growth. But in this fast, we want to ask God for Numbers – of leaders; leaders to maintain the numbers that already exist, and move us to the level of explosion.
If we have to move ahead from where we are as a ministry, the current leaders must face the fact that there are many problems for which they are not equipped. This is in no way a slight to their leadership capabilities, neither is it a putting aside of the old or older leaders. But, as long as we are satisfied with merely maintaining our positions or titles, then CMFI may have reached its limits. It would be the practice of selfishness and short-sightedness that leads to stagnation and death of the Zach Fomum ministry. Those who are committed to growth rather than their positions will see the need for God to give us new leaders, and large numbers in one go, as an imperative.
The apostles had the humility to admit that while administrative problems arose because of growth, it was not necessarily a failure on their part. Rather, they humbly interpreted the murmurings and complaints as an indication of areas of limitations in their leadership, thereby requiring new (additional) leaders to enable them to get to new levels. There is no perpetual elasticity to any individual leader. Despite all their apostolic graces, experiences, effectiveness, etc., they faced the fact that more leaders were needed. They faced a deadlock where moving ahead required unblocking the dead end, and what was needed was more leaders.
To be satisfied with the state of affairs despite the needs you are unable to address is dishonesty. It is not systems that bring about growth; the church grew by raising additional leaders. Administration alone does not bring growth; growth is the result of people who are full of the Holy Spirit, full of faith, full of wisdom, and who possess spiritual gifts. Such qualified leaders will maintain the existing numbers, produce more growth, and open us up to new vistas of impact and influence.
- Pray that the burden for the emergence of new and qualified leaders in large numbers will come across to us.
- Let us pray for God to deliver us from being satisfied with the successes that we already have – the small successes of the past.
- Pray that the leaders will love our vision and manifest that love by making room for other leaders to emerge; that they will love our vision more than their names, their future, their ministry, etc.
Amen! God bless you!