“I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.”
(1 Corinthians 3:6-7, ESV)
In Paul’s great letter to the Corinthians he addressed many of the problems they were struggling with. One of the bigger problems was their reverence of men like Paul, Apollos, or Peter.
Each of these men were known to the church and each had worked hard with them. Thus, divisions began to form in the church behind each of these men. Some people were beginning to identify themselves by who their teacher was. In reference to this, Paul tells us that he nor Apollos had made the church grow. It reminds us that only God can make the church grow. We can plant and we can water but no matter how much we work; we cannot make it grow.
Do you want to see the church grow? I am sure that you do but let me make a couple points here about growth that I hope will help us.
First, church growth doesn’t happen until we actively plant and water. As people we understand the concept that we would rather help those who are actually making an effort to help themselves. On a side note: the bible never says that God helps those who help themselves. I believe the principle is taught numerous times but it is not stated that way. It is taught in our passage for this article. God will help those who plant and water. It is also taught in Galatians 6:7-9. There we are told that we reap what we sow. In other words, when we make the effort to do the will of God He rewards our efforts. So what does that mean for us and church growth. Until we are willing to get involved in the work of the church we cannot expect growth. That work can be many different things but it must include prayer for God to get involved and help us. God will help those who help themselves.
Second, church growth is about what God does, not us. As people, we like to think that if we work harder, come up with a better plan, even stress out and worry over the church then all of our hard work and determination will make the church grow. Nothing could be further from the truth. We must get involved and we must do our part but growth happens because God wills it. It does not happen because we are faithful or because we worked hard enough and God felt obligated. It happens when we trust our God to be God and act on behalf of his people.
What that means for us is that the greatest, most effective tool for church growth is our faith in Jesus and our trust that he can do it. Do you believe that he is all powerful? Do you believe that anything is too hard for him? Then let me impress upon you the need to have faith and pray for our growth. Every single day I want you to petition God and Jesus to work in our hearts to strengthen our faith, to give us more love, to help us be more submissive to him, and to bless us with more people and ability. When we trust him and depend on him for our success we will grow more than we could ever imagine.