Summary: What makes sheep? Sheep make sheep. And we are his people and the sheep of His pasture. So how do we go about making more sheep for His flock?
In a large city there was once a prominent church building. It was a beautiful four story structure that dominated the city block on which it stood. It was well known in the community for its beautiful building, it’s dignified and well educated preacher, a choir with professional quality, and a congregation of filled with wealthy and important people.
And in the foyer of their church building there was a beautiful 10 foot tall marble statue of Christ with his arms outstretched.
It was an impressive congregation, but unfortunately, it was also a congregation that was slowly dying. Why? Because they didn’t try to bring people to Jesus. They thought people would come to them because they’d be impressed with their building, their preacher, their choir and membership.
One night a fire broke out, and the building went up in flames. The floor under the statue of Christ gave way and the statue crashed into the basement of the church building.
The next afternoon, after the fire department had doused the flames workmen started to clean up and remove any surviving valuables. It was then, that they found the statue of Jesus in the basement. It had hardly a mark on it. Gently they got a cable around it, lifted it out with a crane and set it on the sidewalk.
Two businessmen were passing by and they looked at the ruins of the church and at the statue of Christ. One said, "Well, looks like Jesus is all they’ve got left." Dave McFadden
I’m reminded of the comment Paul made about the Church being built on the foundation of Jesus Christ: “If anyone builds on this foundation (Jesus) with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is.” I Corinthians 3:12-13
APPLY: In that big impressive church nothing survived the fire --- except Jesus.
When the fire had run its course, that congregation had no building left.
They had no place for their dignified preacher.
They had no place for their professional choir.
They had no place for wealth and power.
All they had left was Jesus.
The Bible is very clear about the fact that all the church should ever need is Jesus.
When Jesus had His final meeting with His disciples He told them:
"All authority in heaven and on earth has been given TO ME. 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 28:18-20
The Church was established by Jesus’ authority.
It exists for Him.
Colossians 1:16-18 says that “by (Jesus) all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.
He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.”
In other words: The church exists for Jesus.
In fact – a healthy church will build itself around Jesus, not around their preacher, their building, or their programs.
ILLUS: I recently read an interesting study done last year by Lifeway Christian Resources. They did an extensive study of “healthy churches”. Churches that were growing and having an impact for God in their communities.
Lifeway found 12 characteristics that seemed to be true of each of these congregations. I’m not going to list all 12… but these four caught my attention:
1. Healthy churches have a high view of Scripture. Lifeway noted that there’ve been a number of studies over the past forty years point to this trend. Healthy churches have leaders and members who believe the WHOLE Bible. They believe it says what it means and means what it says. They tend to believe in inerrancy – the idea that the Bible has NO errors.
2. In a healthy church, a large number of church members read the Bible daily.
The simplicity of this truth often surprised church leaders. And healthy congregations encourage their people to do this. In Lifeway’s research they found that the practice of reading the Bible every day. was THE principle indicator of a strong healthy faith. That’s why we actively encourage that activity here: we have numerous Bible studies throughout the week. We stress Sunday School and we make available a yearly “read through the Bible in a year” pamphlet for you to use at home.