Summary: Are we as a congregation ready to open our hearts and minds to the needs of today and tomorrow?
Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come. Amen.
Listen for the Word of God in the Acts of the Apostles Chapter 2, Verses 14a and 36 through 41:
But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them: "Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. Therefore let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified."
Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, "Brothers, what should we do?" Peter said to them, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him." And he testified with many other arguments and exhorted them, saying, "Save yourselves from this corrupt generation." So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added.
Dear Brothers and Sisters!
The Title of this Sermon is "Ready, Set, Grow!" That used to be the name of a UCC Program to foster Congregational Vitality. It all started with a poll where people were asked to rate how strongly they agree with the following items:
- This congregation is always ready to try something new
- The current morale of this congregation is high
- This congregation is strongly focused on serving the wider community beyond the congregation
- This congregation makes a real difference in the lives of its members and their families
- Members of the congregation have a sense of excitement about the future
- The members and pastor(s) share a clear vision, goals, or direction for their ministry and mission
- Now, please self-evaluate your congregation on this overall scale
So the overall question is: Are we as a congregation ready to open our hearts and minds to the needs of today and tomorrow?
Both the Orem Community Church and the Provo Community Church proved to be ready to try something new. They hired a guy from a different continent to be their spiritual leader. That’s really new and really brave. The people back then in Jerusalem also had to adjust to a new style of Parish Life. Peter was their new guy in town, a former fisherman from the North and now eager to grow the Church in Israel’s capital. Here and now the mission is to grow both churches individually and together. Peter is a good example for church growth because we heard: "and that day about three thousand persons were added."
So now let’s talk about some obstacles: It won’t happen that way: This day we won’t add three thousand persons. I am sorry. Yet growing is the issue for our church. Growing on two scales: We need to grow spiritually in matters of width and depth, to broaden our faith and to deepen our hope. And we need to grow as a congregation in matters of involvement. Our Church attendance has to go up!