Summary: Shows how the church is a chosen people of God

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1 Peter 2:1-11

OCTOBER 5, 2008

On October 13, 1908, under a large tent pitched on a Texas prairie, a magnificent vision began to form. After days of preaching, days of prayer, days of negotiation, and much debate, the delegates from churches scattered across the United States of America, received a final motion that was voted into adoption. A spirit of celebration gripped the people. They poured out of the tent, marching around it, singing songs, and praising God. Out of many, they had become one.

It was a message that brought them together. They were fervent proponents of the message of holiness of heart and life in the Wesleyan-Holiness tradition. And they represented approximately 10,000 members in their various organizations and congregations. Though relatively small, many of the groups had churches and mission work across the United States and Canada and some had missionaries in India, Cape Verde, Mexico, and Japan. Soon to be followed by work in Africa and China. Passionately committed to “spreading holiness across the lands,” they left Pilot Point, Texas, gripped with a sense of the radical optimism of grace. They were intent on taking the message to all the world.

One hundred years later, the church they launched on that Texas prairie has a membership exceeding 1.6 million people ministering in over 140 languages in 151 world areas. Out of one, we have become many.

That new Body of Believers realized that in their combined efforts, they had strength that none of them had alone. They were committed to the development of a strong sense of identity. They wanted people to know who they were! They were Nazarenes! They were confident in the leadership of the Holy Spirit. They were intent on compassionate ministry and evangelism. And they were passionate about the message of holiness.

But they were also realistic about the magnitude of their task. The world was soon fighting a Great World War. Resources were strained as a growing denomination struggled to enter opening doors of ministry. Courageous missionaries risked their lives for ministry in a world at war. Global depression brought finances to the breaking point. A young church faced the reality that great growth does not necessarily mean adequate resources. And soon, World War II halted mission work in many nations, with some missionaries captured and held prisoner.

But the church continued to minister and grow. In spite of massive world tensions, churches were planted, schools and hospitals were established, and the church continued its global expansion.

Following World War II, the church in America saw unprecedented growth. Churches were planted by the hundreds, new districts were formed, colleges grew, and Nazarene Bible College in Colorado Springs and Nazarene Theological Seminary in Kansas City were established. The growing church poured people and finances into mission work around the globe. The missionary corps soon numbered over 800 under global contract - for a total of over 1,000 including global missionaries, interns, regional missionaries, and volunteers. The list of world areas with Nazarene work soared. So effective was the evangelistic effort worldwide that within the later years of our first century, church membership in other world areas exceeded membership in the United States and Canada.

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