Summary: The early church devoted themselves to the Lord in certain ways which caused the church to grow.
THEY DEVOTED THEMSELVES
INTRO.- ILL.- A Methodist church tried to get a man to attend, but he never did. "Why don’t you come?" the minister asked, and the man finally admitted it was because he didn’t have proper clothes. So a member of the congregation took him to a clothing store and got him a nice suit, shirt, tie, and shoes. But on the following Sunday, he still did not show up. So the minister visited him again and asked him why he didn’t come. "When I got dressed up in my new suit," the man explained, "I looked so good I decided to go to the Episcopal church instead."
What is the purpose of the church? Do we come to show off our Sunday duds? Of course not! We all know this. We certainly know this in our church.
Most people realize that the reason we come to church is not to show off our clothing or to see what other people are wearing. Why then do we come to church? For what purpose?
ILL.- Last Tuesday I went back to Joplin, MO, to see my mother at the National Healthcare nursing home. Early Wednesday morning, about 6 a.m. in fact, mom and I were sitting in the dining hall, eating some maple bars. Hmmm good! Afterward, I decided to survey some of the residents and people who worked there. I went from table to table, asking, "If the size of a church is not important, what is important?"
Here are some of the answers they gave me:
"The attitude of the people."
"The friendliness of the people."
"The closeness of the people."
"The feeling you get in church."
"Being made to feel welcome."
"Salvation of souls."
"Sincerity of the people."
And one dear lady said, "To hear a good sermon." And I said, "Right on, lady! Amen! Amen! You got it. That’s the right answer!" NO, I DIDN’T SAY THAT, but that is a good answer. She was thinking about hearing a message from the Lord.
Brothers and sisters, the majority of the people said that the most important thing about the church was the people. PEOPLE DRAW PEOPLE!
People go to church because of the people who attend that church! Because they like the people. Because they feel that the people are very friendly, etc. SURELY, THIS OUGHT TO TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT THE CHURCH!
The early church had something going for it. On the day of Pentecost (Acts chapter 2) about 3,000 people repented and were baptized and the Lord added them to His church. (V. 41)
Acts 2:47 "And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved."
Acts 4:4 "Many who heard the message believed, and the number of men grew to about five thousand."
Acts 6:7 "So the Word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly...."
The early church grew rapidly. 3000, 5000 and more! Why? What was happening? Did they have a great Senior Minister? No, there were no such critters back then. Did they have great greeters at the door of the church house? No, they didn’t have even a church building.
What about their youth program? Their bus program? Their athletic activities? Their "Spring Fling"?
They didn’t have half of what we have today, but they certainly had something that caused the church to grow. They had an intense devotion to the Lord! Could this be the difference?