Summary: 1. By spreading the good news about Jesus (vs. 36-41). 2. By studying God’s Word (vs. 42). 3. By seeking more reverence for God (vs. 43). 4. By sticking together (vs. 44-46). 5. By sharing what God has given to us (vs. 42-47).
How Can Our Church Survive and Thrive?
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Adapted from message preached at McClendon Baptist Church - Sept. 5, 2010
BACKGROUND & INTRODUCTION:
*Over the last few years, at least four Southern Baptist Churches around here have shut their doors forever. Five to ten more are in danger of dying in the next few years, unless there is a major turnaround.
*After the Southern Baptist Convention in 2008, I read more troubling news about Southern Baptist churches. “The Washington Post” and “USA Today” both had articles on recent declines in the SBC. After decades of growth, we reported losses in church membership and baptisms for the third year in a row. Baptisms were at a 20-year low in our convention.
*Outgoing SBC president Frank Page warned that within 20 years, more than half of Southern Baptist churches could die off unless things change.
-That means over 20,000 churches could close their doors. (1)
*The good news is that you and I have the power to help turn this situation around, if we will follow God’s plan for His church.
-How can we be the church God wants us to be?
-How can our church survive and thrive in the 21st century?
*To find out, let’s go back to the beginning.
-The church was born on the Day of Pentecost, 50 days after the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and 10 days after the Lord went back up to Heaven.
*On the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came down in power, and the 120 believers flooded out into the street to proclaim the wonderful works of God.
-God miraculously gave them the power to speak in foreign languages, so people gathered from all over the world could hear the good news about Jesus.
*Then Peter began to preach, and the church exploded with new members.
*How can our church survive and thrive in the 21st century?
-The early church shows us how.
1. First: It’s by spreading the good news about Jesus.
*Peter reminds us of this in vs. 36 when he said: “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.’’
*Let them ALL know. Everybody needs to know:
-That Jesus is Lord!
-That He is the Savior of the world.
-That He died on the cross for our sins.
-And that He rose again from the dead.
*Then in vs. 37, everybody needs to know how to respond to Jesus: “Men and brothers. What shall we do?”
-Church, we need to speak and live so that people are compelled to ask us the same question: “What should we do about Jesus?”
*Peter had the answer in vs. 38&39:
38. Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
39. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”
*“Men and brothers. -- What shall we do?”
-Turn away from sin and selfishness, and turn to Jesus Christ.
-Put your trust in Jesus for the forgiveness of sins.
-Receive the gift of God’s Holy Spirit by receiving Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior.
-Then be baptized and seek to follow Jesus in every other area of your life.
*That’s what God wants for us, for our children, for people all over our parish (county), and all over the world!
-Everybody needs to know, because God cares about everybody!
-And God wants you to help spread the good news.
*One of the best ways is simply to invite people to come to church with you.
-Studies of new church members show that the vast majority were moved to join a church because someone invited them. (2)
*I have really been blessed in my life.
-I have a wonderful family and wonderful friends.
-I have been able to serve the Lord for over 25 years.
-I got to go half-way around the world to tell people about Jesus.
-I got to lead my mother and my brother to the Lord.
-I have received countless other blessings.
-Best of all, I know Jesus as my Savior. And I am going to live forever in Heaven.
*And all of those blessings have come my way, because in 1975 Georgia Canterbury simply invited me to come to church.
-But she was really inviting me to come and meet Jesus.
-She was spreading the good news.
*Every Christian needs to help spread the good news, because everybody needs to know about Jesus. Even the youngest among us can help other people trust Jesus as Savior and Lord.