Summary: We need to think about how we present to our community. Sometimes words or terms mean things to us, but not to general people in the community.
A Tour Through Acts ~ part 9
A Great Church is an Evangelistic Church
And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:47b)
I was looking online at what churches have on their web page. I wanted to see just how the churches of that city were trying to communicate the message of their church to others who might be looking for a church home.
If you have ever done this, you will find that churches use a lot of clichés. Most often you will find churches describing themselves as a "friendly church." Lots of things about being loving and family, or "A warm welcome awaits you." One often used message is: "Where everybody is somebody, and Jesus Christ is Lord!"
I found one that is memorable. No doubt it was well meaning and the people in that church probably loved the Lord. But they said, "Where Jesus Christ is everything and everyone else is nobody!" I also couldn’t help but wonder what kind of person that saying would attract. That didn’t say what they wanted to. Surely they thought people were somebody. What they wanted to say, probably, was that Jesus was so wonderful that in comparison to Him everything else was secondary. We need to think about how we present to our community. Sometimes words or terms mean things to us, but not to general people in the community. For instance, some churches use the word Berean, in their church name. But, how many people on the street even know who a Berean was? In fact, probably some people in the church don’t all know what who Berean was, and certainly don’t know how that would relate to them. So, why would you put that in your church name if you are trying to reach your community, but they don’t have any idea what you even mean? I think that we have a similar problem with the term “Baptist.” People who attend a Baptist Church know what they are communicating, but I’m not sure people on the street do. What I know for sure is that people in the community have preconceived and inaccurate notions about what a Baptist is. Terminology changes, and the meaning we attach to words change. There was a time when everyone thought they needed a church. And, they had an idea of what they were looking for, too! Not today. Today, many people don’t know they need a church, and wouldn’t have any idea of what to look for in a church if they knew they needed one. It makes our efforts complicated, and a lot of thought has to go into how we are trying to communicate to others.
These examples do point to the fact that so many churches do not think through what they are doing to reach people. In fact, many churches do not even think much about what they are doing. Some don’t even know what they are doing. And some don’t even know that there is anything they should be doing! Someone said that if you were to ask the average church member the question, "Where is your church going?" they would say something like, "Going, why we’re not going anywhere. We’ve been at the corner of First and Main for 40 years!"
The early church we’ve been focusing on in the book of Acts was a great church because it had focus. It knew that it should be doing something and knew what that something was. It had experienced the life changing power of Jesus and had also caught a vision of how that same power could change the lives of people they knew. And they were doing something about it. It has been said that there are three kinds of people: those who watch what happens; those who make it happen; and those who wonder what happened. These Christians were making things happen.
We have seen that they were a regenerated church, a devoted church, an awe-filled church, a united church, a generous church, and a joyously worshipping church. Now we see that they were an evangelistic church, a growing church. Notice what the Scripture says in Acts 2:47: And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. These believers were seeing their friends, neighbors, relatives, and co-workers come to know Christ. They were at work and God was at work.
The Sovereignty of God
One of the first things we notice is that God was at work. This is why people were being added to the church. This is always why people are saved. In fact, people are never saved unless God is at work because only God can save someone. We can’t save anyone. We see the sovereignty of God at work here in this early church.