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The modern church growth movement often emphasizes human strategies rather than divine means. Dr. Venema's By His Spirit and Word, aptly subtitled How Christ builds His Church, shows that the Church grows from the Spirit's work through God-appointed means: preaching the Word and administering the sacraments.
The book title reflects the Heidelberg Catechism's personal confession about how Christ "gathers, defends, and preserves for Himself, by His Spirit and Word, in the unity of the true faith, a Church chosen to everlasting life; and that I am, and forever shall remain, a living member thereof" (Q&A 54).
In By His Word and Spirit, Dr. Venema surveys development of doctrine regarding the means of grace, addresses contemporary challenges to it, and suggests helpful perspectives for modern ministry. He writes, "Identifying the unhealthy and self-defeating pragmatism that often infects the church growth movement is necessary. But it is not enough to meet the challenge. Reformed churches need a laser-like focus upon what it takes to carry out with fruitfulness the great mission that Christ effects through the church's ministry" (p. 179).