We desire our church records to reflect an increase in attendance but even more that among that number are many new converts to Christ, not merely transplants from other churches. We see this at the church in Antioch — “The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.” The report “reached the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch.” Upon his arrival, Barnabas confirmed the reports and attributed it to God’s grace. He “saw what the grace of God had done.” (Acts 11:21-23)
What Happens When we Acknowledge the Power of God’s Grace at Work?
Note Barnabas’ two-fold response: “he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.” (Acts 11:23)
- He was glad. Notice that his rejoicing wasn’t because of the great number but because he “saw what the grace of God had done.”
- He encouraged them. The goal wasn’t merely to have a great number of converts but that they became fully devoted followers of Jesus.
Records (numbers) and reports are meaningless if we fail to appropriately respond. Records and reporting in the Church should always point back to grace of God not our achievements (Rom. 12:3, 1 Cor. 15:10) and lead to gratitude (1 Cor. 1:4) and continuing on in that grace (2 Thess. 1:12; 2 Tim. 2:11).
Finding God’s Grace at Work through Any Kind of Records or Reporting
The Church at Antioch provides a report of church growth. It’s fairly easy to point to God’s grace when recording numbers of conversions to Christ since it is by grace we are saved (Eph. 2:8-9).
- What do our attendance records tell us? Do we see God’s grace at work in our midst?
- No matter how great or small the increase might be, who gets the glory?
- Do we use these testimonies to encourage each other to go to the next step in our journey of grace?
But, we see this same kind of response to reports of giving by the church at Macedonia in 2 Corinthians 8-9.
- Are we also attributing financial records and reports to the power God’s grace at work?
- Do we rejoice in God’s grace or in the amount itself?
- Do we use this work of grace as an encouragement for people to continue on in their giving?