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WHAT MAKES A GREAT CHURCH?

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Sermon shared by Melvin Newland

November 2000
Summary: Iím convinced that when the 7 characteristics of the early church mentioned in these verses are put into practice, & are evident in our lives, then God will use us to build a great church that brings glory & honor to Him. (*Powerpoint Available - #206)
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Audience: General adults
Sermon:
MELVIN NEWLAND, MINISTER
CENTRAL CHRISTIAN, BROWNSVILLE, TX

(Changed e-mail address: PowerPoint slides used in this sermon are available at no charge. Just e-mail me at mnewland@sstelco.com with your request - #206.)

ILL. Jawanza Kunjufu, who has written a book concerning black churches in America, says that only 10 to 20% of churches are empowering people to be bold witnesses for Jesus Christ. According to him, the other 80-90% of American churches fall into the entertainment or containment, just keeping their doors open on Sunday, categories.

One reason for this is that in many churches, whether black & white, man-made opinions & traditions that have been handed down over the years are held in higher esteem than the Holy Scriptures handed down by God.

ILL. Dr. Terry Teykl, in his book, "Acts 29," writes this challenge to us all: "Imagine gang members, drug dealers, racists & sex offenders being transformed by the Gospel. Imagine politicians, judges & other influential leaders taking stands based on the word of God. Imagine hundreds & even thousands of people being saved in a single church service! Imagine the unimaginable."

Then he goes on to say, "It all happened in the pages of Acts, & it can happen again if you are willing to pay the price."

Heís right! The early church, as recorded in the Book of Acts, was a dynamic, growing church that turned the world of its day upside down! In spite of incredible opposition & terrible persecution - first from the Jewish authorities & then from the might of the Roman Empire itself - the church began & grew so dynamically that within 300 years the Roman Empire had surrendered to the gospel of Christ, & the emperor himself had become a Christian, too.

How was this possible? Why did it happen? What was there about the early church that gave it the strength, enthusiasm, & unity to face incredible odds & outlast strong opposition in its conquest of the hearts & lives of those around them?

I think that much of the secret of the impact of the early church upon the people can be found in just a few verses in the 2nd chapter of Acts. The 2nd chapter of Acts tells about the Day of Pentecost, about Peter preaching the very first gospel sermon ever preached, the peopleís reaction to that sermon, & the beginning of the church of our Lord & Savior, Jesus Christ. Then it goes on to tell even more about the amazing growth of that church.

Listen as I read just a little portion of that chapter, Vsís 41-47, as it tells about the peopleís reaction to Peterís message.

"Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; & that day about 3,000 souls were added to them. And they continued steadfastly in the apostlesí doctrine & fellowship, in the breaking of bread, & in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, & many wonders & signs were done through the apostles.

"Now all who believed were together, & had all things in common, & sold their possessions & goods, & divided
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