Summary: In this message discover four realities about the Church of Jesus Christ.

The State of the Church 2005 (part 1)

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o The average church reaches only three people for Christ each year.

o Half of all churches did not add a single member through conversion in an entire year.

o A majority of new converts leave their church within eight weeks of their commitment to Christ.

o Over the last 10 years nearly 60% of Ohio’s Assemblies of God Churches have declined in attendance.

What is the state of the church as we enter 2005?

A recent survey of America’s protestant churches estimates that 85% have plateaued or are declining in membership. While our church is among the 15% of churches that have grown over the past year; what is the state of Praise Assembly of God? Can we automatically assume that just because our attendance has increased by 12% over the last year that everything is going the way it should? We only have to look back to both 2002 and 2001 to find our average attendance declined each year from the previous year. Those were definitely years when our Church was not growing.

o If you are here today and have joined our church within the last 12 months stand—24 months.

o Remain standing if you are here today as a result of being saved within the last 24 months—12 months.

I’m thankful for what God has done, but what about 2005? Will we as a church continue to grow? Will we continue to see people saved and brought into the family of God? What is the state of our church?

Our culture is changing rapidly. The rapid and radical changes transforming our culture have left many churches teetering between ineffectiveness and extinction. While our church may not be in danger of closing our doors forever, are we being effective in reaching our community? Is our church relevant to our family and neighbors? Can our voice be heard, or are we ignored?

As we consider the state of the church, the issue is really not about church growth; it’s important for us to know the “numbers” because each number represents a person. However, growth in and of itself does not tell the whole picture. THE CRITICAL ISSUE IS CHURCH HEALTH. If a church is healthy it will grow . . . likewise if a church is not healthy it will not grow—unhealthy churches are either revived or they die.

God has not put our church here to fail. I believe Praise A/G is healthy, and growing stronger; the best days for our church are still ahead of us. God has a wonderful plan for our church, but it won’t become a reality by just an act of God—it is even less likely that anything within the church will happen just by chance. As a church we must remain healthy and strong for God to accomplish His purpose in and through us.

Matthew 16:18 (NIV)

. . . on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.

• (The Message)

This is the rock on which I will put together my church, a church so expansive with energy that not even the gates of hell will be able to keep it out.

What can we learn about the church from what Jesus said?

1. The Church is established and built by Jesus.

Jesus said, “I will build my church.” Don’t miss Jesus’ first word; He said “I.” Jesus is the founder the Church!

No one can build the church apart from Jesus! If anyone other than Jesus is trying to build the church, then the Church is not what’s being built. Jesus is the builder.

Look again at what Jesus said: “I WILL BUILD OR PUT TOGETHER my church.” The verb translated will build is literally “house builder.” Jesus will construct or put together the church; the emphasis is upon what Jesus will do.

How will Jesus build the church? He will build it upon THE ROCK? Who or what is the rock? Jesus has asked His disciples Who He is. Let’s look quickly at the context to find out Who the Rock is.

Matthew 16:15-18 (NIV)

[15] "But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?" [16] Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." [17] Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. [18] And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.

Some say Simon is the rock because Jesus calls him Peter which means “rock.” But Jesus is not saying He would build the Church upon Peter, but upon the revelation given to Peter by the Father of Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God.

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