6-Week Series: Against All Odds

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Summary: This is the 5th and final sermon in a short, end of the year series, we've been doing on being a Biblical Church. In this sermon we discuss the need for growth, and how a healthy church is a growing church. We look at some misconceptions and what Scripture says about how a church grows

Biblical Church 2019 (Growing)

Text: Acts 2:39-47

Today we’re finishing the series we started a few weeks back on being a Biblical Church. And I challenged you all to stick with me during this study (and I hope you have) because I wanted you to see how it all ties together, and how each element not only builds on the others, but how they are all intertwined, and interwoven. Each element upholds the other, and supports the other, and they’re all intricately connected… (kind of like an igloo – how they all support and rely on one another). Now if you remember, what we’ve seen so far is that a Biblical Church is #1 – a church that is made up of Biblical Christians… people who have been truly converted, and saved by the grace of God through faith in Christ. #2 – it’s a church that is devoting itself to learning God’s Word. #3 – it is a church that is also sharing God’s Word and making disciples. And, #4 – it’s a church that is worshiping God as directed by God’s Word. Today we’re going to look at how a Biblical Church, is a church that is growing in a Biblical way.

Not too long ago, I was reading an article on the Christianity Today website, and on the side of the webpage, there was an advertisement that said, “Come to such and such seminar, where you will be effectively trained in how to grow your church”… and it was only $349.00 to attend… not counting travel expenses and food and lodging… what a bargain right? On Tuesday, as I was preparing this sermon, I thought, “You know what? I’ll just do a little experiment.” So I went to Amazon and clicked the books link, and then typed in “Church Growth” … 30 thousand plus books! There are more than 30,000 books related to “Church Growth” on Amazon… so I looked at LifeWay… 3000 + books related to church growth on LifeWay. And then if you just do a Yahoo or Google search on “Church Growth”, you’ll find those books, and you’ll find companies saying things like, “You’ve got to have the latest technology”, “You’ve got to have the right kind of music, lighting, advertising, Sunday school curriculum, the right kind of preaching, the right kind of parking, the right kind of small groups, the right kind of website”.

And on and on it goes. And I was… I admit… a little overwhelmed… I mean; 30,000 books? Which one do you read? Which of the hundreds of seminary courses promising strategic church growth strategies do you take? Out of the thousands of advertising companies out there do you employ?

Now if you were to look at a map of the growth of the Church from the time of Jesus’ death to 310 AD (roughly the time Constantine the Great made Christianity the “official” religion of the Roman Empire), you’d see that the Church grew immensely during that time. Basically it spread from the city of Jerusalem, and in a little over 270 years, it covered the Roman Empire… in other words large portions of Europe, the Middle East, and Northern Africa. By 500 AD it covered all of Europe, the Middle East, Northern Africa, parts of Russia, parts of India, parts of Central Africa, and had made inroads to China. All without books on Church growth, or demographic reports, or metrics reports, or the internet, or cell-phones, or FB, or podcasts, or cars. And if you want to talk about numbers… Well on the Day of Pentecost, we know that that the Church started with 120 believers, and in one day it jumped to over 3000 Christians. But it didn’t stop there… By the year 310 AD… we don’t know exactly how many Christians there were, but we do know that around 7 million had been martyred for their faith because we’ve found and dated their catacombs. It’s been estimated that by 500 AD there were more than 40 million Christians in the Roman Empire. So the Church grew from 120 people to over 40 million in 470 years without the help of modern technology or modern church growth strategies, while at the same time enduring some of the worst persecution ever perpetrated on a group of people in recorded history.

Now let me just take that to a modern context for you…

In 1950 it was estimated that in China there were between 1 and 4 million Christians. By 2010, the best estimates were that there were over 160 million Christians in China (60 years – 156 million+ Christians were added to the Church). Again all while being heavily persecuted.

A study by Georgetown says that by 2020 there will be around 260 million Christians in China (that's just the ones we know about)...

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