Summary: In the first church, let’s take a look at what happened and how it relates to the church today. 1- the proclamation of the gospel 2- the persecution of the apostles 3- the proliferation of the church
INTRO.- Church happenings. What is happening in our churches?
ILL.- A group of women were talking. One lady said, “Our congregation is sometimes down to thirty and forty on Sunday night.”
Another said, “That’s nothing, sometimes our group is down to six or seven.” An old maid added her bit, “It’s so bad in our church on Sunday night that when the minister says, ‘Dearly beloved,’ it makes me blush.” That’s bad.
ILL.- It was a fixed habit of Theodore Roosevelt to attend church on Sunday, and continued it all his years in Washington even as president of the USA. The pastor of his church always received a letter or phone message from the president when he expected to be out of town, explaining his absence. HOW I WISH!
Is there anything good happening in the Lord’s church? Is there anything happening at all in the church? Here are some church FACT happenings in the US.
Fact: Most new people attending their congregation for five years or less have changed congregations within the same denomination (transfers: 57%). Only 7% are first-timers who are new to the faith.
Fact: Denomination is less important to mainline Protestants (59%) and those under the age of 25 (48%).
Fact: Many new people (47%) visit for the first time because someone invited them; only 6% came for the first time due to advertising. (I don’t think advertising hurts, but it’s not the most important factor in bringing in new people.)
Fact: Most new people visit between 1 and 3 congregations before choosing their new home.
Fact: People return because of the quality of the sermon (36%), the friendliness of the people (32%), and the overall worship experience (30%).
Fact: Services in growing congregations are more likely to include contemporary music and laughter.
MORE FACTS: AN UP CLOSE LOOK AT CHURCH ATTENDANCE IN AMERICA
1. Less than 20% of Americans regularly attend church—half of what the pollsters report.
2. American church attendance is steadily declining. In 1990, 20.4% of the population attended an Orthodox Christian church on any given weekend. In 2000, that percentage dropped to 18.7% and to 17.7% by 2004.
3. Only one state is outpacing its population growth. Hawaii, where 13.8% of the state’s population (1.3 million) regularly attends church, was the only state where church attendance grew faster than its population growth from 2000 to 2004. However, church attendance in Arkansas, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Tennessee—all of which have higher percentages of church attendees than Hawaii—was close to keeping up with population growth in the respective states.
4. Mid-sized churches are shrinking; the smallest and largest churches are growing. While America’s churches as a whole did not keep up with population growth from 1994 to 2004, the country’s smallest (attendance 1-49) and largest churches (2,000-plus) did grow.
5. Established churches—40 to 190 years old—are, on average, declining.
Someone said, “The Church is the body of the Lord. Without Jesus, there can be no Church; and without the Church, we cannot stay united with Jesus. I’ve yet to meet anyone who has come closer to Jesus by forsaking the Church. To listen to the Church is to listen to the Lord of the Church."
PROP.- In the first church, let’s take a look at what happened and how it relates to the church today.
1- the proclamation of the gospel
2- the persecution of the apostles
3- the proliferation of the church
I. THE PROCLAMATION OF THE GOSPEL
Acts 4:1-2 “The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead.”
One thing is sure: the early church proclaimed the gospel to others! They were bold in their proclamation of Jesus.
ILL.- Two brothers, one a famous baseball pitcher and the other a preacher, met after a long separation and spent some time talking about bygone days.
Finally the minister said: “How is it, Bill, that I spent four years in college and three years in seminary, and you’ve never done anything except to play ball, and you’re getting a salary of one hundred thousand and I’m getting ten? I don’t understand.” (this was a long time ago)
Bill thought for a minute and then said: “I’ll tell you how it is, Jim. It’s all in the delivery!” I would say that delivery makes a difference in both pitching and preaching.
However, the content of the preacher’s sermon is what is most important. A good delivery is important but what is he preaching? If he isn’t preaching Christ and His Word he is just wasting his time.
Some actors and actresses give some great performances but what are they accomplishing when it comes to eternity? Movies can’t save anybody. They may entertain and motivate in certain ways but they carry no eternal value.