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Summary: 5th and last in a series on the Core Characteristics of the Church. This sermon looks at the church as a growing community.

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The Church as a Growing Community

Acts 2:42-47 (vs. 47)

Do you remember those little choruses we learned at Vacation Bible School? There were several little ditties that were brought out only at VBS time.

One came to my mind as I was preparing this sermon:

Deep and wide; Deep and wide,

There’s a fountain flowing deep and wide.

Deep and wide; Deep and wide,

There’s a fountain flowing deep and wide.

What did that song mean? I’m not sure I knew then or know now, but it must have something to do with growth—going deeper with Jesus and reaching out to include others in the fold of the Christian church.

That’s the focus of this sermon—growth.

This is the last of the 5 sermons I am preaching from Acts 2:42-47. In these 5 messages I lifted up what I believe are 5 essential ingredients to the Christian faith; essential elements that compose the core characteristics of the Christian Church; stands in the DNA that shapes who we are.

I’ve been saying, that wherever the church exists and is what God intends it to be, It will be

Devoted, to the Lord and his teaching,

Filled, with awe at his presence,

Caring for each other’s real needs

Praising God

And now, a growing community

Our text for today is the latter part of Acts 2:47; the last sentence in this section:

And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

1. ADDED suggests Growth.

What is Growth?

First of all, there is individual growth and there is corporate growth; that is growth as individual in your Christian faith and growth for the church as part of the Body of Christ.

God is concerned that as individual believers, we are continually growing in our walk with him. Nothing is more dangerous to the Christian life than complacency. Peter used the word, add, to describe the growth journey of the believer.

2 Peter 1:5-9

5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.

We know that God desires our continual growth. Actually, I’m of the opinion that one cannot remain stagnant in faith; either one is growing forward or slipping backward. There is no stationary platform on the moving sidewalk of Christian faith.

However, this passage—Acts 2:47—is not talking about individual growth. Clearly it is a reference to the growth of the church—the focus in this text is on corporate growth.

God desires the church to grow, and there are many kinds of growth.

There is growth in faith, in obedience, in program, in finances, etc.

However, this passage is mainly about one kind of growth, as suggested by the word number.

2. Added to their NUMBER suggests numerical growth.

The focus here is on adding more people to the church—growing in numbers.

Now right from the get-go, let me state what I have stated before: my goal is not to simply add people to the church—not to count numbers. My passion is to build a healthy church. However, all healthy organisms grow; and the church, if it is truly healthy, will grow numerically. Growth in quality and quantity is the natural outcome of a healthy organism. If there is no growth; especially if there is decline, then clearly something is wrong with the health of the organism.

Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.

Citation: Edward Abbey, Leadership, Vol. 1, no. 1

But growth as a part of church health is the natural design of the Body.

Take the simple example of our granddaughter Yolaine. Every week we are excited to see what new level of development she has achieved.

And why were we so anxious to see at her first and second visits to the Dr, if she had gained any weight?

Because healthy organisms grow.

Other than the modest loss of a few ounces after birth—any further weight loss, would have singled a problem. Immediate attention would have been needed.

But she put on weight, and continues to do so. Now admittedly, the human organism gets to a place in life when enough is enough. I really do not want to add any more weight to my frame—actually, I’m trying to lose 10 lbs (though I’m not trying very seriously. I’ve discovered that simply making the proclamation that I’m going to lose 10 lbs somehow does not make it happen.).

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