Between the Multiply and the Multiplying Greatly
And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.
We love reading about the growth of the church in Acts. This church grew tremendously after Jesus ascended to Heaven. We don't know how large the church was when Jesus ascended, but we do know there was a little over one hundred in the upper room praying after His ascension. After the Day of Pentecost, this church saw much growth to the extent that the Scriptures say that the number of the disciples was multiplied.
However, something happened that the narrative of the church’s growth changed. It changed from the disciples was multiplied to the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly. I don't know about you, but I would rather my church multiply greatly instead of just multiplying. Don't get me wrong, either one is God’s miraculous work, but to multiply greatly means more lost people are getting saved.
When we look at what happened between the multiply and the multiplying greatly, the apostles did some things that made the difference. The apostles were so overwhelmed with the growth that they could not do everything. Their solution was to divide duties to others so they could give themselves to prayer, and the ministry of the Word. This action resulted in the church multiplying greatly. Let me share a few observations about this truth.
First, they did not just give themselves to prayer. Some think that we can grow our churches through prayer. I believe in prayer, but I also believe in hard work. A church that does not add the ministry of the Word to prayer is a church that is wasting its time in prayer. The purpose of prayer is to give you power to serve so that more lost can be saved.
Second, they did not just give themselves to the ministry of the Word. Some have a great service ethic but a poor prayer life. God always rewards a church or a believer who works hard, but you will fall flat on your face and burn out if you work without prayer. You cannot just work and expect God to do something. He expects you to pray as well as work.
Third, you cannot do everything alone and keep your priorities straight. The disciples almost quenched the growth of the church had they not gotten others involved. A church cannot multiply greatly with just a few giving themselves to prayer and the ministry of the Word. It takes a church that is willing to divide itself to many teaching the Word and praying that makes the church to multiply greatly. Your church will only multiply to the degree that you add more people teaching. If you only keep a few people teaching, you will stay at your present level of growth.
Fourth, you cannot divide teaching duties if people are unwilling to step up and do what is necessary to be a teacher. If the Apostles had nobody to give the duties to, the narrative of the early church would have stopped, and the world would not have been turned upside down. Again, there is nothing wrong with a church multiplying greatly; in fact, a church should desire this; however, it cannot multiply greatly if you are not willing to step up in standards and Christian growth so that you are qualified to teach. One great reason you should step up is so that you can teach God’s Word so more lost people can be saved.