Summary: God's plan for church growth.
How God Builds A Church
A recent study shows that there are 195 million un-churched people in America. This makes America one of the top 4 largest "un-churched" nations in the world. Each year 3,500 churches close their doors forever, while only 1,000 to 1,500 new ones are started in the same timeframe. With 3 churches on every corner where we live, we may find it hard to believe, there is a need for more churches. BUT THERE IS!
Through our giving to the North American Mission board we contribute financially to starting these needed new churches. And there are faithful missionaries and church planters who are sacrificing, serving and doing their part to spread the good news all over the world and here in our own backyard. But we must understand that we nor anyone else can build a church! God is the One Who builds a church. We are told in scriptures that - Except the LORD build the house, they labor in vain that build it - Psalms 127:1 And unless the Lord builds a church, those who labor are laboring in vain. There are many people who are good at building buildings, but a nice building does not qualify as a great church!
We (the people) are the Body of Christ....Not a pile of brick and mortar. I know of some churches that are thriving without what we would describe as "nice facilities". There are congregations meeting in movie theaters, warehouses, strip malls and old barns that are doing a great work for the Lord. On the other hand, there are countless brick buildings, with large white steeples, padded pews and stained glass windows that are plateaued, dead and dying. I can take you to a church within 20 miles of here that is about to lose a multi-million dollar campus. (I am not glorying in their demise, I pray for them regularly)
We have a tendency to measure a church's success by how many cars are in the parking lot, how many people are in the pews and how much money is taken up on Sunday. A church can have thousands of members, who give faithfully, with state of the art facilities
and be a success in our eyes, and be a failure according to God's standards. On the other hand a church may meet in someone's basement with a handful of members who are obedient and faithful and God sees them as a success.
Every single week I get e-mails and flyers in the mail box, promoting the latest and greatest "church growth method". There is always a new program that will help build or grow the church. Don't get me wrong, I would love to see this church filled to the point that we have to tear walls out and build on. But large crowds and big buildings are not the goal. With that being said, I have good news... God wants this church to grow. God wants the church down the street to grow. God wants new churches to be built and God wants old churches to be revitalized.
We have the privilege to be a part of this process. But if any church is going to grow, if a true church is going to be built... it will be built by God NOT MAN!!! There is an area of theology that seeks to understand all aspects of the church, This is known as ecclesiology. It is derived from the Greek word "ekklesia" . This is a term referring to a gathering or assembly of believers. This involves more than attending church, IT IS ABOUT BEING THE CHURCH! - 1 Corinthians 12:27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.
Fellowship, worship, edification and ministry are all performed by people, not buildings. As a result of their persecution first century Christians often met secretly in people's homes. And over time things have evolved into what we have today. In our selected text we get a glimpse of God's building program. I invite you to join me in 1 Peter 2:4-10 as we examine "How God Builds A Church" . Let's begin in verse 4 and examine:
I. The Vision For God's Church - v4 ¶To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious,
Since the beginning God had a plan for His church. God chose His own Son to be the Cornerstone of the Church. Peter revealed in the previous chapter the fact that God had this plan before the world began - 1 Peter 1:20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, 21 Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.