Summary: The greatest miracle the church needs today is the miracle of growth. Even though only about one in five people in Canada attend church weekly, if our attitude is right with Jesus He will bless our service efforts and grow His chruche!
DEVELOPING AND SERVANT’S HEART
Online Sermon: http://www.mckeesfamily.com/?page_id=3567
11 God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them. 13 Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” 14 Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. 15 One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?” 16 Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.
The greatest miracle needed by today’s church is one of growth and long-term sustainability. We have all seen the church attendance over the last few decades shrink dramatically to the extent that many of the smaller, local churches have closed their doors. While we have faith that not even the gates of hell can close the global church altogether, how does one respond to the ever increasing need to become all things to all people so that more of this generation might come to know Christ? Unfortunately, those churches whose attendance and budgets have shrunk to miniscule amounts feel like they are in survival mode and as a result are willing to imitate the programs and activities of growing churches. When they continue to decline despite their best efforts to be like the “best” they are often left to wonder why. Today’s sermon is going to give one reason as to why ministry attempts fail and that is attitude. While willingness to serve and effort are great starting points for church growth they are simply not enough for unless the church members transform and be more like Christ, God is unlikely to bless the church with an abundance of attendees!
Before I begin with today’s passage let me first test your knowledge on some of the miracles Jesus did in His lifetime on earth.
MIRACLES TRIVIA QUIZ
1 Jesus did many miracles during His ministry. What was the first miracle that Jesus did?
2 Jesus healed a man who was born blind, He made mud with His spit and put it on the man’s eyes. What did He tell the man to do?
3 Jesus walked on what body of water?
4 Jesus healed Simon Peter’s mother-in-law of what?
5 How many baskets full of pieces were left when Jesus fed the 5000?
6 What tree did Jesus cauxe to wither up?
7 Who was dead in the tomb for four days and Jesus raised him back to life?
8 Out of the 10 lepers that Jesus healed how many came back and thanked him?
9 How was the woman with the bleeding issue healed?
10 What miracle in Jesus’ life is mentioned the most in the New Testament?
Answers: see the end of this sermon
The percentage of people attending church is in decline. Since 1955 the percentage of people attending church has declined from 61 percent to a modest 20 percent (Figure 1). While some of this decline can be attributed to changes in immigration patterns of religious people to Canada, one simply cannot ignore the fact that the percentage of teens stating they have “no religion” has increased from 12 percent in 1984 to 32 percent in 2008. Even though 87 percent people believe they have a soul and one out of two teens acknowledge they have spiritual needs, there has been a major shift from seeking to have these needs met within organized religious groups to highly individualized spiritual market places. One must ask the questions: what is causing this decline and can it be reversed?
The good news the answer to the second question is a definite YES! Can we as Christians ask and expect to receive exponential church growth, the kind that fills our pews and allows us to meet our financial budgets? You just took a quiz on Jesus’ miracles that he performed while here on earth. From reviewing a mere 10 of Jesus’ miracles one can’t help but be impressed. Before Jesus ascended back into heaven He told us that if we believe in Him then we will not only do the same miracles that He did but even greater ones (John 14:9-14)! All we need to do is ask for anything in the name of Jesus and He promises that He will do it for us! Does that mean we can ask for a million dollars in His name and He must grant it? Of course not. Anything that we ask must be in accordance with the will of God to be granted. Since it is the will of God for the church to grow then can one safely conclude that prayer for church growth will lead to it automatically happening? If that is the case then why aren’t all the churches bursting at the seems? To answer these questions, we are going to review what happened when the Seven Sons of Sceva tried to imitate Paul’s ministry success.