Summary: We can learn from the early church how to grow both individually and together.
Anatomy of a Growing Church
Intro: After Peter had been filled with the Holy Spirit and had preached the sermon we read in Acts 2, 3000 people responded and became followers of Jesus. We see in the passage we just read that their lives took on a particular pattern. They began to spend a lot of time together, eating meals together, praying together, worshipping together, and encouraging one another. They were all growing in their newfound faith, and as a result, the entire church continued to grow also. Their lifestyle was the result of the work of God in their hearts. They only did what they believed the Lord had told them to do. Having just been filled with the Holy Spirit, they were led by the Spirit to engage in the right activities that helped them grow. And this is our main thought today:
Prop: We can learn from the early church how to grow both individually and together.
Interrogative: What are the elements needed for growth? What does a growing church look like?
TS: Well, I think you already know that it is not about a building. It is about people getting and staying connected to Christ and one another. Let’s look some of the essential ingredients for spiritual growth.
I. Essentials of a Growing Christian Body
A. Teaching/Learning - 42”They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching….” What do you suppose the apostles taught the people of the early church? Well, if they obeyed what Jesus told them to do, we know that they passed on what they had learned from Jesus. In Matthew 28:19-20 Jesus told His disciples 19”Therefore go and make disciples [learners] of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”
-So, the apostles were teaching all that they had heard Jesus teach. They also taught from the OT, because it spoke of Jesus as well. In Luke 24:27 when Jesus appeared to two of the disciples on the road to Emmaus, He taught from the OT: 27”And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” Jesus used the OT a lot, because it was God’s revelation of Himself and of His Son Jesus. The apostles also used the OT, because Jesus did, and also because it gave the background and setting for all that Jesus did on the cross for us.
-We are blessed with great teachers here at CLC. From the youngest SS class to the oldest, we have several qualified teachers who share truth and love with us. Teachers, thank you for sharing truth with the people who come to this church! Thank you for treating God’s word with respect and integrity. Teaching is such an important part of a growing church!
-One important thing that made the teaching of the apostles effective is the way it was received. V.42 says they devoted themselves to it. Why? Because it was truth; and Jesus said in John 8:32, “If you continue in My word, you are truly My disciples; and you will know the truth and the truth will make you free.” If we will devote ourselves to obeying God’s word, whether we learn it in a SS class, a sermon, in our own Bible reading time, or some other way, we will learn to live in the freedom God has for us. Let’s devote ourselves to learning and teaching God’s word! Another essential is…
B. Fellowship (Love, care, encouragement)
1. The Social Dynamic of Fellowship - Positive interaction with other believers can help us emotionally, mentally, physically, and in other ways. We were created as social beings who need to know someone cares about us. If this need is not being met in the church, people will look for it somewhere else. Just being together is every bit as important as whatever ministry we might do in the church.
2. The Spiritual Dynamic of Fellowship - Interaction with other believers helps us keep our eyes on Jesus. It is your job as a believer to help other believers keep their focus on the Lord, not on their problems or on other people. God has designed church life is such a way that we need one another in order to grow spiritually and become all we can be. Christian growth does not happen in a vacuum. It requires the variables of two or more believers helping each other grow. How well we build relationships with one another will have both a direct and indirect bearing on the growth of our church! Not only is this true in the church as a whole, but in our own lives