Written by Pastor Ajagbe Samuel Olushola, Rector, Wale Oke College of Missions and Evangelism, Ibadan, Nigeria

The church is a living organism and at such it is expected to grow. Growth is a sign of being alive. Whenever a living organism stops growing, it begins to die. So a church that will keep being healthy and not die must grow. For church to keep healthy and experience increase, signs and wonders are needed.                                                                                                                                                                         

What is Church Growth?

Church growth is all that is involved in bringing men and women who do not have personal relationship with Jesus into fellowship with Him and into responsible Church membership.

Dimensions of Growth

A healthy church must experience the following dimensions of growth:-

  1. Quantitative Growth
  2. Qualitative Growth
  3. Geographical Growth.

Quantitative Growth

This is also known as numerical growth. This type of growth is despised by many because they think it deals with mere numbers and not with spirituality, hence to them, it is not important. The bible makes us to understand the importance of numerical growth.

  • 2 Peter 3:9 – Christ has not returned because He wants more people (Numerical Growth) enlisted.
  • Acts 1:15; 2:41-42; 4:4 - The bible records 120 band increased to 3,000 to 5,000. Mentioning of numbers here shows God is interested in Numerical Growth.

What would you say of a church whose members have grown to become great generals for the Lord but whose attendance or membership remains the same over decades? Sick of course! God wants His church to grow numerically.

Qualitative Growth

Qualitative growth has to do with the spiritual qualities of members. God wants His church to grow in quality. The spiritual qualities of members must be on the increase. Members must grow from babyhood to maturity in Christ otherwise the church will become a gathering of infants who could easily go back into the world. Our task is to make disciples (Matthew 28:19), each pastor must organize and pattern his church’s activities to growing members’ spirituality.

Geographical Growth

Acts 1:8 unfolds the geographical Pattern in the Great Commission. The early church well understood this and was able to begin the great commission in Jerusalem (Acts Chapters 1 to 7), move to Judea and Samaria (Chapters 8 to 12) and then to the farther boundaries of the known world (Chapters 13 to 28). Churches that want to remain healthy and grow must as well follow similar growth strategy geographically. We must not remain in our Jerusalem alone but spread out to areas around us, then moving beyond to starting daughter churches at our nearest communities, to farther communities and eventually to the uttermost parts of the world. 

Signs and Wonders

Signs and wonders simply represent the demonstration of God’s power to do unusual things like healing the sick, raising the dead, changing a natural, scientific or medical order, working out breakthroughs etc.

Signs and wonders are among the ways in which God brings men and women to believe in the Saviour. When notable signs and wonders have been displayed, great efforts should be made to strike while the iron is hot to ensure conversion growth takes place and hence church growth.

Signs and wonders will let the unsaved know how great our God is and hence point them to the saving grace of this God whose raw manifestation they have seen. Similarly, signs and wonders will magnetize people to our churches. Where these are well harnessed, there will be church growth.

Biblical Views on Signs and Wonders

  1. Signs and wonders are among the signs that follow true believers, Mark 16:17.
  2. Anointing or Power for signs and wonders come from the power of the Holy Spirit, Romans 15:19, Acts 1:8.
  3. False prophets know the magnetic ability or power in signs and wonders, and will try to use the same to deceive many, Matthew 24:24, Mark 13:22, 2 Corinthians 11:13-15.
  4. Believers can sincerely ask God for power for signs and wonders, Acts 4:30
  5. People need signs and wonders to believe, John 4:48.
  6. Signs and wonders are among the core factors of growth in the early church, Acts 5:12-16.
  7. Signs and wonders are needed to validate our soul winning ministries, Mark 16:20.
  8. Power for signs and wonders are necessary tools for ministry. Therefore as we go out for ministry, God expects us to go with power for signs and wonders, Matthew 10:1, Matthew 28:18-19.
  9. Possession of power for signs and wonders is not a guarantee for making heaven, Matthew 7:21-23.


Some Instances of Signs and wonders in the bible

S/N Signs and Wonders Bible Passage Result
1 Signs and wonders at Pentecost Acts 2: 41-42 Church at Jerusalem grew by 2,500% (from 120 to 3,120)
2. Healing the crippled at the beautiful gate Acts 3:1 – 4:4 Men in the church at Jerusalem grew by 66.7% (from 3,000 to 5,000 men)
3. Casting out of demons and healing of various kinds in Samaria. Acts 8:4-8 Many converts and probably the planting of the Samaria Church.
4. Supernatural healing of a boy. John 4:46-53 A whole family became followers of Jesus.
5. Raising the dead Lazarus. John 11:1-45 Many put their faith in Christ
6. The healing of Aeneas, a paralytic bedridden for eight years Acts 9:32-35 All the dwellers of Lydda and Sharon turned to the Lord.
7. Raising the dead Dorcas back to life. Acts 9:36-42 Addition to the church at Joppa.


How Signs and Wonders are Related to Church Growth

Signs and wonders enhance Church Growth. A Church where God’s power is present for signs and wonders will definitely attract more people than where signs and wonders are missing. People are with various issues of life and they will of course want to join with winners where they are sure problems are really encountering the power of God to transform into testimonies. Hence, in quest for security and solution to issues of life, people will want to congregate where there is power for signs and wonders. It is sad to note that we are in a generation where various secret resistances we tolerate have made the flow of God’s power for signs and wonders scarce and have given room for false prophets with fake signs and wonders to be able to win those we ought to have won to grow the kingdom of light, 2 Thessalonians 2:9, Revelation 13:13-14.

Donald Anderson McGavran, the founding Dean and Professor of Missions, Church Growth, and South Asian Studies at the School of World Missions at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California while addressing the issue of Signs and Wonders and Church Growth stated:

As I have been reviewing church growth around the world, I have seen that it frequently correlates with great healing campaigns.  That is why I am speaking about Divine Healing and Church Growth.  Where the church is up against an insuperable barrier, then no matter what you do, how much you pray, how much you work, how much you organize, how much you administer for church growth, the church either does not grow, grows only a little, or grows from within, not from without.  Under such circumstances, we need to lean heavily on that which is so wonderfully illustrated in the New Testament, namely the place of healing in church growth.  You remember the two villages of Lydda and Sharon where it is recorded in the book of Acts that all Lydda and Sharon turned to the Lord.  Two whole villages in a day! When did that happen? When Aeneas was healed by Peter.  This great in gathering was preceded by a remarkable case of divine healing... I now hold that among vast populations, divine healing is one of the ways in which God brings men and women to believe in the Savior… Administering for church growth in part means arranging the stage so that divine healing can take place… My considered recommendation is that missionaries and Christians in most populations ought to be following the biblical injunction to pray for the sick (James 5:14-15).  When notable healings have taken place, great efforts should be made to multiply churches.

Dr. Howard Foltz believes God will use powerful testimonies to provide breakthroughs among unreached people groups.

Few Contemporary Testimonies of Signs and Wonders in Church Growth

  1. “This is one of the most unusual and dramatic testimonies we’ve ever recorded in our AIMS ministry,” says Dr. Howard Foltz, president and founder of AIMS. “It all started when a man named Warsa got saved and then God spoke to him that he would be used by Him to see the dead raised.” Trained as a missionary by AIMS, Warsa was already reaching many Muslims with the good news about Jesus Christ. On a notable day, a woman in his village named Fatuma who had been seriously sick for two months died. Fatuma Shubisa grew up in a muslim home but she and her husband converted to Christianity. On that notable day, Fatuma’s mother came visiting her ailing daughter but met her dead. She wailed and neighbours around came wailing too. Fortunately, at the same time missionary Warsa Buta was passing by and saw the crowd gathered around Fatuma’s home. He drew closer and heard of her death, he went inside and began to pray. Being conscious of God’s promise to him while he was still a young believer, he persisted in prayer and through faith he made a declaration just as Peter did in Acts 9:36-42 and instantly, Fatuma rose up. Through this sudden and astonishing miracle, many believed in the Lord that day and there was great rejoicing in Fatuma’s village.


The following stories of signs and wonders and Church Growth are as narrated by McGavran :

  1. Reverend Dick Little: American Presbyterian missionaries visiting India for a brief period. Reverend Little was blessed with power for healing.  All those who came to his crusade meetings with longings for healing were wonderfully healed physically, mentally and spiritually. Various kinds of diseases including twenty one years of asthma, forty years deafness, blindness, lameness etc. were all healed and the people testified to the glory of God. Through the effective power of God demonstrated under his ministration, thousands accepted Christ, including Hindus who openly renounced their gods.
  2. Another case of healing followed by growth is one in which the gift for healing was exercised by a layman, a recent convert, not by the minister or missionary.   In Tamilnadu, India, the Evangelical Church of India has grown from a few hundred to more than fifteen thousand in six years. What convinced multitudes to follow Christ was that with their own eyes they saw men and women healed by Christ’s mighty power.  Evil spirits were driven out in His name.  The Holy Spirit was at work.
  3. Eighty-three percent (83%) of Mekane Yesus Lutheran denomination in Ethiopia attested that their healing from illness and exorcism was the reasons for their growth.
  4. Suba Rao was the headmaster of a government school –a member of one of the middle castes and a wealthy man.  He had laughed at baptism.  He had hated missionaries.  He had thought of the church as an assembly of the low caste. One of his near neighbours and close friend fell sick for two years and was not healed despite doctors’ attention. Gradually he was wasting away. But one night while Suba Rao was asleep, the Lord Jesus appeared to him and said “if you will go and lay your hand on that man’s head and pray in my name, I will heal him”. He woke up and did not take the dream serious. This happened three times occasionally. And the third night he got up at once and went to his friend, he laid his hand on him, prayed for him and in the morning, the man felt relieved and told him “do it again”. The man was healed. Suba Rao threw out his idols, started to read the bible and started a bible study class among his neighbours.                                                                                                                                             

Requirement for Possessing Power for Signs and Wonders

  1. Be correctly related or connected to God.
    • Genuine salvation.
    • Constant study of the word.
    • Tangible time of prayer in God’s presence.
  2. Be well committed to service and soul winning. Signs and wonders are not for show off but for service (soul winning), Acts 1:8; Matthew 28:18-20.
  3. Live a holy life, Hebrews 12:14; Isaiah 59:1.
  4. Be a man of faith, Mark 9:23; Acts 3:16; Matthew 21:21.
  5. Desire the ability and pray to possess it, Matthew 21:2.2


Matthew 16:18 clearly shows that God wants His church to grow. We are the agents He will use. Spontaneous growth cannot take place until we look back to Him for His own ability. Signs and wonders are among the core abilities God gives to enhance Church Growth.


Akin-John, Francis Bola, Quality and Quantity Growth in Churches,  (Agege: Church Growth Services, 2008)  

Elmer, Towns L., John, N. Vaughan, David, J. Seifert. The Complete Book of Church Growth, (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publisher, 1990).

Elmer, Towns, Douglas,  Porter,  Churches that multiply (Kansas: Beacon Hill Press, 2003)

Malphurs, Aubrey, Planting Growing Churches for the 21st Century, (Benin City: Joint Heirs Publication, 1998)

McGavran, Donald Divine Healing and Church Growth , Renewal Journal (Vol. 4)

Withrow, Oral. Growth in small Groups (Anderson: Warner press, 1990)

Withrow, Oral. Our Church Can Grow, (Anderson: Warner Press Inc., 1991)