Summary: A church must seek change in order that it continue to be relevant John Stott promotes this while holding on the 4 essential marks

***NOTE*** I have to confess that at a late hour the night before preaching this sermon the ’goat’ ate my sermon and 11 months of sermons in a folder on my computer. I had to re-write it late that night. I was desperate so I used more of John Stott’s words than was in my original script. I am indebted to Stott’s thoughtful treatment of the material. I wish to indulge his forgiveness and thank God for his work.




Problem: Growing healthy churches

As WCBC gets bigger



Challenge in moving larger group of people

John Stott: The Living Church: Convictions of a Lifelong Pastor

Says – “... the Church lies at the very centre of the eternal purpose of God.” – It is a part of God’s plan to bring good news to all people

A church must seek change in order that it continue to be relevant

John Stott promotes this while holding on the 4 essential marks

AN alive church must seek to be these –

1. A Learning Church

2. A Caring Church

3. A Worshipping Church

4. An Evangelizing Church

READ: Acts 2:42-47


1. A Learning Church

(v. 42) “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching ...”

Truth matters

How do we discern truth? – Everyone promotes what they believe to be true

The early church adopted the notion of Apostolic Succession

Links to those who witnessed Jesus in action

Upheld Church Doctrines – Teaching concerning Jesus

In particular: The Gospel

i.e. centred around – Death, Burial and Resurrection of Jesus

Signs and wonders – (v. 43), “Everyone was in awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles

READ: Acts 2:22-24

In a learning church ...

I. The people submit to the teaching authority of the apostles

II. The pastors expound (explain/expand on) Scripture from the pulpit

III. The parents teach their children out the scriptures at home

IV. Its members read and reflect on the Scriptures everyday

V. The Spirit of God leads the people of God to honour the word of God

2. A Caring Church

(v. 42) “They devoted themselves to ... fellowship ...”

Word fellowship from GK koinōnía

I. Sharing in together

II. Sharing out together

Jesus called some of his disciples to total voluntary poverty

i.e. Rich young ruler (Mark 10) sell everything – give to poor

This is not for all – (v. 46)

“ ... They broke bread in their homes ...”

Some still had homes, which they met in

Still – it is apparent they cared for their poor brothers and sisters in the church

A living church is a caring church. Generosity has always been a characteristic of the people of God. Our God is a generous God; His church must be generous too.

Home Groups – Greater intimacy as church gets bigger

3. A Worshipping Church

(v. 42) “They devoted themselves to ... the breaking of bread and to prayer ... (v. 46) “Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts.”

I. They continued to meet daily in the temple for prayer services

When new Christian movements come along, it is easy to get caught up in the newness of whatever is going on.

The early church did not immediately dismiss more formal forms of worship

They would have been keen to reform worship in accordance to the gospel

They understood that the sacrifices of the temple had been fulfilled in the sacrifice of Jesus

They supplemented their formal meetings at the temple with informal meetings in their home – home groups/cell groups – they added their own distinctively Christian worship – The Lord’s Supper/Communion

Young people are often impatient with the inherited structures of the church

They see formal worship as

Conservative, too resistant to change, and stifling

While older generations may prefer, dignified more formal services at church – they might see newer forms of worship, flip and irreverent

Yet younger people see this as spontaneous and liberating

The early church embraced both formal and informal styles of worship

We must progress together – so not to tear the church apart of style

However we must also face the future and our future is with our young people – now – not tomorrow

II. The early church’s worship was both joyful and reverent

Luke described their worship as an “exuberant expression of joy.”

God had sent his son into the world, and now he has sent his Spirit into their hearts. How could they not be joyful?

When we worship we should worship with joyful, expectant hearts

Some services I have been to it is like being at a funeral

Christianity is a joyful religion – every service should be a celebration of what God has done, is doing and will continue to do.

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