Summary: A sermon examining the church that is alive and moving forward for Christ.
A Church That Is Alive
Thom Rainer wrote a book titled "The Autopsy Of A Deceased Church." In this book he addresses 12 common factors in churches that are dying or seemingly dead. Rainer states that as many as 100,000 churches could be dying. He adds "Their time is short, perhaps less than ten years"
It is estimated that between 4,000 & 7,000 churches close their doors each year. Thousands have already closed and tens of thousands are on life support.
When Jesus confronted the church at Sardis, He described them as being dead - Revelation 3:1 ... I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.
I believe that Jesus would say the same to many churches that bear His name today. We could spend a great deal of time examining the signs that a church is dead or dying. While that may be beneficial, I would instead like to look at the signs of life within the local assembly.
There is no greater example of a church that is alive than what is given in the book of Acts concerning the events that followed the inception of the Lord's church. This group of believers had no specific location ....They did not have a large building with stained glass windows. They enjoyed none of the modern amenities. But they had some things that many churches lack today. They had POWER... they were vibrant...they were bold...they were passionate...they WERE ALIVE!!
In Calhoun County there is a church and their sign says "A Church Alive Is Worth The Drive". I agree 100% with that statement! Life is too short to worship in a dead church! So, what constitutes a living church? The answer is found in our selected text. I would like to walk through these verses and consider the thought "A Church That Is Alive! In verse 4 we see:
I. The Endurance In A Church That Is Alive - v4 Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.
This church was not huddled up together as the frozen chosen. They were out and about sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. Luke refers to the fact that this church was "scattered abroad". The reason that they were scattered is because they were experiencing great difficulty. In verse 1 we see that "Saul was consenting unto (Stephen's) death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria...
Stephen had just been stoned to death. The religious leaders and the government rulers were vehemently opposed Christianity. There was none anymore vicious than a man named Saul of Tarsus. Though there was great opposition, this group of Christ followers were devoted to the cause of Christ. The fire that Saul and his cohorts sought to extinguish quickly began to spread like wildfire.
It is my prayer that God will ignite a fire in this place today! Wouldn't you like to see that? If so, be warned! When the fire begins to spread... when God begins to move... when lives are being changed...TROUBLE WILL COME!! "A Church That Is Alive" will face great attacks from the enemy. There will be persecution from without and there will be problems from within. We are told in - 2 Timothy 3:12 "all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution."
The believers in the early church did not surrender when the going got tough. They did not just give up and go to the house when trouble came. They didn't hide away an whine because of the difficulty they faced! They pressed forward with the task that had been assigned to them!
I shutter to think what will happen when the church in America faces the persecution that others are facing all over the world.
Vance Havner said - The devil is not persecuting Christianity today...he is professing it. He is not fighting churches today...HE IS JOINING THEM!
There is no need for Satan to waste his resources on a dead church. In the modern church people will get puffed up and quit if someone sits in their pew. Some are at home mad right now because they didn't get the attention or recognition that they thought they deserved. Some don't attend because they are too tired or too busy. Others are inactive because something didn't go their way.
Many continue to attend but all they do is complain. They don't like the music. They don't like the sermons. They are fed up with the preacher. They are angry at the elders. They gripe because things aren't "exciting" anymore. They are upset with changes that have been made. They wish things were like they "used to be".