Category Archives: New Testament Church
When was the last time you and your team stopped to ask, “why do we do what we do in our weekend services? Is what we are doing effective at reaching the community, or is it only appealing those who have been here for ages? Do we have traditions that we preform week after week just because we always have? Is our music relevant? Is it dated, is it too loud (loud does not automatically equal good)?”
Don’t get me wrong, traditions are not automatically a bad thing. Older music, loud music, no music, drama, dance, congregational readings, none of these things are good or bad. My point is this, if what you are doing in your services is truly effective at reaching your community as well as feeding those who already attend… great! If not, maybe it is time to change some things. And sometimes you just need to switch things up in order to let some fresh air in.
Following is a recent blog entry from Mark Batterson, (lead pastor at one of the healthiest, fastest growing churches on the planet) regarding this very thing.
Electric Guitars & The Apostle’s Creed
We continued the Sabotage series this weekend. Talking about heresy. I thought you’d enjoy a study I cited. Churches founded before 1945 are more likely to recite creeds as part of worship. That isn’t surprising. But here is the part of the study I loved. Researchers found an inverse proportion between churches that use creeds and those who have electric guitars in their worship bands. We broke the trend this week by reciting the Apostle’s Creed together.
We’re always trying to mix it up and disrupt the routine. We did that this weekend by going into communion with a contemplative reading that was on the screen and coming out of communion reciting the Apostle’s Creed. Pretty cool to hear people not just recite it from left-brain memory but proclaim it because they believe it.
Until next time,
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
If we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow, we aren’t really living.
– Gail Sheely
Here is another great article by Brian Tubbs as to why, as the church, our focus should be on growth. Growth is an indicator that we are making an impact and reaching people for Christ. This apples to both individual churches as well the entire church as a whole.
What Does the Bible Say About Outreach?
Biblical Passages for Church Growth
Many pastors and church leaders have a tough time persuading their congregations to pursue church growth. This is especially the case with established congregations, who have become comfortable in their size, culture, and traditions.
There are, however, no small churches in the Bible commended for remaining small. In fact, those churches most committed to the Christian faith were growing churches. In light of this biblical truth, how can pastors and church leaders persuade congregations to embrace and work toward church growth?
The Great Commission
Anytime one considers the subject of church growth, it’s important to start with the commissioning of the church. What does Jesus teach about church growth?
In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells his disciples to “teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things, whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:18-20, KJV).
Jesus’ Great Commission to the disciples (and, by extension, his entire church) is a three-step process:
1.Evangelism – Teaching all “nations” (or people groups, nationalities, races, etc.) about the “Gospel” (or “good news”) of Jesus’ atoning death and resurrection.
2.Baptism – The first step of obedience for those who have received Christ, and the act that publicly confirms them as members of a Christian congregation.
3.Discipleship – The process of teaching Jesus’ new followers doctrine and Christlike living (Acts 2:42; Ephesians 2:19-20).
Though the “church” of Jesus is universal in scope, it is locally organized, and each congregation is to commit itself to this three-fold task.
What Does Jesus Teach About Church Growth?
The scope and strategy of Jesus’ Great Commission is captured in the first chapter of the book of Acts, when he tells his disciples to begin in Jerusalem, expand outward to all of Judea, then to Samaria, and the “uttermost parts of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
Evangelism is to be comprehensive, all-fronts push outward. The kingdom of God is to be advanced city by city, nation by nation, throughout the entire world.
Prior to his crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus modeled the passion and commitment to which he calls his followers. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus is seen talking with sinners, tending to the sick and disadvantaged, and preaching to great crowds. He is unswervingly committed to reaching people and changing hearts.
Theologian Millard Erickson carefully examines Jesus’ ministry and his Great Commission, and says the “call to evangelize is a command” and that “if the church is to be faithful to its Lord and bring joy to his heart, it must be engaged in bringing the gospel to all people.” (Erickson, Millard. Christian Theology, 2nd edition. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 1998).
Scholar Wayne Grudem says the “evangelistic work of declaring the gospel is the primary ministry that the church has toward the world.” (Grudem, Wayne. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000).
Growth of the Early Christian Church
While some Christian congregations languish in mediocrity or decline today, this was not the case with the first century church in Jerusalem. Following Jesus’ ascension, the eleven remaining disciples gathered with the wider network of Jesus’ followers.
At the time of Pentecost, about 120 of Jesus’ followers were praying in the “upper room,” when the Holy Spirit came down and empowered them (Acts 2:1-4). Pentecost saw 3,000 men and women added to the Jerusalem church. Talk about church growth!
The early church continued to grow, spreading well beyond Jerusalem. Churches sprung up in Greece, Rome, Africa, and throughout the known world.
What Does the Bible Say About Outreach?
The bottom line is that the Christian church is commanded to evangelize and expected to grow. Those Christians who refuse to pursue evangelism or outreach are not in line with Scripture. Those congregations that refuse to embrace church growth are not in step with the Great
Until next time,
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” – Matthew 28:19-20
In my years of ministry I have frequently met church attenders and pastors of smaller churches who are content with the size of their church, and have no interest in expanding. Some to the point of being anti-church growth. And while I do not promote seeking church growth for church growth sake, true growth that comes from reaching the community for Christ is clearly demonstrated in the New Testament church. Below is an article from Brian Tubbs found at http://protestantism.suite101.com/article.cfm/what_is_biblical_church_growth , that clearly demonstrates this principle.
What Is Biblical Church Growth?
Lessons from the Life of Christ and the Book of Acts
Jan 22, 2008 Brian Tubbs
There are numerous books, articles, videos, and audios available today on the subject of church growth. Pastors and church leaders are bombarded with a large array of resources and models that promise “rapid” church growth, “easy” church growth, “massive” church growth, and the like. How should a pastor and church sort through church growth ideas and church growth models? Should pastors and churches even be concerned with church growth?
Jesus Drew Crowds
A historical look at the birth of Christianity should make something pretty clear: Jesus drew crowds. It is hard to justify a ‘small church’ mentality when looking at the example of Jesus. Of course, Jesus did surround himself with a smaller group of devoted followers, with whom he spent the most time. Yet Jesus didn’t remain in this small group setting. On the contrary, he continually reached out — speaking with and ministering to as many people as he could in Judeo-Palestine.
The Jerusalem Church: From 120 to 3,120
Following the ascension of Jesus, the remaining eleven of his primary disciples and those in Jesus’ extended circle of confidantes and followers gathered together in an “upper room” (Acts 1:12-13) to pray.
When the day of Pentecost came, the writer of Acts records that the Holy Spirit descended on the followers of Christ in “tongues of fire” and with a “mighty wind” (Acts 2:1-3). When this incredible and supernatural event happened, it attracted quite a crowd – and gave the apostle Peter a dramatic opportunity to stand up publicly and be counted as a follower of Christ (an opportunity he failed to take on the night of Jesus’ trial).
Following Peter’s sermon, the writer of Acts reports that “about 3,000 souls” were incorporated into the new Jerusalem church – the “church” being the fellowship of believers in and followers of Jesus Christ.
The Spread of Christianity
The remainder of Acts lays out the rapid spread of Christianity from Jerusalem through Judea and Samaria and into the Graeco-Roman world. This spread was powered by Jesus’ primary disciples, especially Peter and John, and Jesus’ half-brother, James, who became the leader of the Jerusalem church. And then came Paul, the most prolific pen of the first century Christian community and one of the most committed missionaries in the history of Christianity.
Lesson in Growth
The clear lesson from the life of Christ and the book of Acts (a lesson fueled by the epistles) is that the church is to be constantly expanding – constantly on the move. And that its impact should not be restricted to formal church services, but rather to the community itself, even to the point of reaching families “house to house.”
A local church that withdraws into closed-door legalism, “Comfort Zone” complacency, or elitist judgmentalism is a church outside of God’s will. This is not to suggest that a church shouldn’t stand for truth or practice sound doctrine. Both are clearly part of God’s mandate for the church.
The biblical model for a church is a church that actively and passionately ministers to both the physical and spiritual needs of those around it — especially, of course, the spiritual needs. Such a church should desire to grow — not for its own glory or satisfaction, but because of its love for God and the people within its reach.
So, how is your church doing?
Until Next Time,
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. Acts 2:46 – 47 (NIV)