Summary: Let’s take a look at some more happenings in the early church. 1- Great persecution 2- Genuine mourning 3- Gritty preaching 4- Glorious joy
INTRO.- ILL.- Three churches got together to sponsor a community-wide revival. The churches were Methodist, Baptist and Presbyterian.
After the revival had concluded, the three pastors were discussing the results with one another. The Methodist minister said, "The revival worked out great for us! We gained 4 new families."
The Baptist preacher said, "We did better than that! We gained 6 new families." The Presbyterian pastor said, "Well, we did even better yet! We got rid of our 10 biggest trouble makers!"
Church happenings. Things are happenings in nearly every church, whether good or bad. Some gain new people and some lose people.
What about churches today? Are any churches doing anything significant?
ILL.- My son-in-law, Chris Santasiere, is the associate minister of the Fairmount Christian Church of Mechanicsville, VA. They run about a thousand people in three services. They have two traditional services with one contemporary service sandwiched in between. That service takes place in their gymnasium.
They held their VBS on June 24-28, Sunday to Thursday. We had our VBS on July 22-25, Sunday to Wednesday. We had a high of 52 kids under the age of 18. That’s a good number and a good happening in our church, especially, considering one little girl who thanked Loretta McKnight for teaching her about God. THAT’S AN EXCELLENT CHURCH HAPPENING! This is why we exist! That’s what we want more of!
The Fairmount Christian Church had an average of 621 for VBS, which includes adults. That’s a pretty good church happening, I would say.
The Southwest Church, which is just down the street from us make VBS one of the biggest things they do every year. Their VBS started on Sunday, July 8th. On Sunday morning for worship they had 1068 people in two worship services. FOR VBS ON SUNDAY NIGHT THEY HAD 1143 PEOPLE! How’s that for a VBS? That’s a big church happening!
But what is really happening our churches today? Are we gaining ground? Are we gaining new people? Some churches appear to be gaining new people. They are growing numerically but where are the people coming from? I still contend that most new people in our churches are just coming from other churches. We are basically shifting the Christian population around from church to church.
Occasionally, our churches will influence some adult people to come to Christ, confess their faith and be baptized. But this is rare and getting rarer all the time. We are not winning lost people to Christ!
Most people are not interested in Christ and the church. They are either turned off by traditional Christianity and/or they don’t need God and Christ because they have it pretty well made here in America.
I am convinced that when people have things, they don’t need God! However, when they get hurt in some real way or their families get hurt, or they lose a loved one in death, or lose their health, etc. that’s when they begin to think about God and Christ.
As I sent out in an email note: Danger past. God forgotten. Danger present. God remembered.
ILL.- I have read that the average age of people in the United States is 25. But the average age of church members is 55—thirty years older than the national average. What does this say to us? It’s simply says we are not reaching young people today. We are losing ground.
Now, what about the early church? What took place in the early church, the first church, the church that started in Acts 2 on the day of Pentecost when the 3,000 were baptized?
PROP.- Let’s take a look at some more happenings in the early church.
1- Great persecution
2- Genuine mourning
3- Gritty preaching
4- Glorious joy
I. GREAT PERSECUTION
Acts 8:1 “And Saul was there, giving approval to his death. On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria.” How great was the persecution of the early church? Here’s how great it was.
Acts 8:3 “But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison.” What about today?
• Since the death of Jesus Christ, 2000 years ago, 43 million Christians have become martyrs
• Over 50% of these were in the last 100 years alone
• More than 200 million Christians face persecution each day, 60% of whom are children
• Every day over 300 people are killed for their faith in Jesus Christ. — World Evangelical Encyclopedia
ILL.- Chuck Sackett is the Senior minister of the First Christian Church of Quincy, IL. He also teaches at Lincoln Christian College and Seminary. Nearly every year he goes to Europe (Austria) to teach in the TCM or Training Christians for Ministry in Europe.