Summary: By looking at four myths about growing churches, we begin to address what it means to be a healthy church.
A. Happy New Year! Let’s begin this morning with a few quotes for the New Year.
1. “Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man,” Benjamin Franklin.
2. “One resolution I have made, and try always to keep, is this: To rise above the little things,” John Burroughs.
3. “Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right,” Oprah Winfrey
B. Looking back over the years I have noticed that I have a pattern of beginning the New Year with a sermon or two about our mission as a church family.
1. Here are a few of the sermon titles from lessons I have done in January over the years.
a. “The Church Everyone Wants to Join”
b. “The Church in Crisis”
c. “What is Our Business”
d. “Devoted to the Fellowship”
e. “A Faithful Church”
2. So, in staying with that tradition, I would like to begin the new year with a sermon series concerning what it means to be a healthy, growing church family.
C. This congregation began in the late 1930s in the city of Syracuse, and moved here to Liverpool in the mid 1960s.
1. Although our past history is important, what we do and who we are in the present is what will determine what the future brings, or even if we have a future as a congregation.
2. Some have said, and I think they are right, that every congregation is only one generation away from extinction.
3. Although we are a strong, vibrant congregation today, that is no guarantee that we will be the same 20 or 30 years from now.
D. What are our goals and dreams for this congregation?
1. What are our principles, convictions and values?
2. What are our methods and processes for carrying out our principles in helping us achieve our goals?
3. These are very important questions, which must be continually evaluated against Scripture and communicated to the body so that we can be of one mind and purpose.
4. I helped us explore some of those questions in the sermon series last Fall called “UR Church – Be the church of Christ.”
5. In that series, I attempted to clarify our biblical approach to being just Christians who are members of the church that Jesus built.
6. Now, I want us to build on that foundation and work toward being a healthy and growing church as God wants us to be.
7. Ultimately, I believe that healthy churches will be growing churches…just like a healthy plant will be a growing plant.
E. I thank God that we have been growing both spiritually and numerically in the last couple of years.
1. We must be careful that we don’t give too much attention to our numbers, because numbers are only one criteria for evaluating where we are.
2. There are other important ways to measure the health of our church family.
3. Therefore, what I would like us to do today and in some future lessons in this series is to think together about what it means to be a healthy church.
4. I want for us to explore what God says about who we should be and how we should go about God’s business?
5. To get started, I would like to consider a few myths people often have about growth and about growing churches.
I. Myth #1: The only thing growing churches care about is numbers.
A. The truth is, a church won’t grow for very long if numbers are all they care about.
1. The key is not focusing on growing the number of people in attendance at our services, but growing in our ability to assimilate people into the family of God.
2. Healthy and lasting church growth is multidimensional.
3. I’m going to suggest that we need to focus on five facets of spiritual work that will lead to our growth as a healthy church.
4. Here they are:
a. We need to grow warmer through fellowship.
b. We need to grow deeper through discipleship.
c. We need to grow stronger through worship.
d. We need to grow broader through ministry.
e. We need to grow larger through evangelism.
5. If we will grow in all of these ways, then we will be a healthy church and we will grow because we are healthy.
B. In our text from Acts 2:42-47, we notice that these five facets of growth are described in the experience of the Jerusalem church (read the passage again).
1. Look at what the first Christians were up to: they studied, they fellowshipped, they worshiped, they ministered to each other and they evangelized.
2. And look at the wonderful result: “And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” (vs. 47)