Summary: Sermon on the qualities that make a dynamic church that people will want to be part of.
TITLE: What Makes a Great Church, part 1
TEXT: Acts 2:42
THEME: Church growth. Health, evangelise
P.S. Rick Warren states, and I agree, that the key issue for churches in the 21st Century will be church health, not growth. Because when a congregation is healthy it will grow.
We all want to see the church grow in numbers and spiritually. It is God’s will for the church to grow spiritually as well as numerically. In Acts 2:42, we read of a vibrant body of believers that was unified in purpose(2:44); The Lord Jesus was magnified (2:47a) and the result was the church multiplied( 2:47b). It had a powerful witness among non-believers too. Miracles and the exercise of spiritual gifts were the norm. It is easy to see why the church grew so quickly and consistently.
W.Wiersbe: The Christians you meet in the book of Acts were not content to meet once a week for ‘services as usual’. They met daily (2:46z) they cared daily (6:1); won souls daily (2:47); searched the scriptures daily (17:11) and increased in number daily (16:5). Their Christian faith was a day to day reality not a once a week routine.
Why was the early church so dynamic in comparison to the church of 2002? To understand the reason why the early church was so dynamic, you need to ask the question, “what drives the church?’ If you were to look up the word “drive in a dictionary, you would find this definition,
“To guide, control, or direct.” When you drive a car, it means that you guide, control and direct that vehicle towards its intended destination. When you drive a nail, you guide, control, and direct it into a piece of wood. (R.Warren)
Every person, business, institution, government, and every church is driven by something. Behind every church there is a guiding force, behind everything that happens. It is probably unspoken. It has never been voted on at a congregational business meeting. But it is there every aspect of church life. Rick Warren has outlined 7 forces which can drive a church.(Purpose Driven church, p.77)
1. Churches driven by tradition:
Illustration: A little girl asked her mother, ““Mommy, why do you cut the ends off the meat before you cook it?”” The girl’’s mother told her that she thought it added to the flavor by allowing the meat to better absorb the spices, but perhaps she should ask her grandmother since she always did it that way. So the little girl finds her grandmother and asks, ““Grandma, why do you and Mommy cut the ends of the meat off before you cook it?”” Her grandmother thought a moment and answered, ““I think it allows the meat to stay tender because it soaks up the juices better, but why don’’t you ask your Nana, after all, I learned from her and she always did it that way.”” The little girl is getting a little frustrated, but climbs up in her great-grandmother’’s lap and asks, ““Nana, why do you cut the ends off the meat before you cook it?”” Nana answered, ““I don’’t know why these women do it, I did it because my pot wasn’’t big enough.””...
Tradition driven churches have as their favourite theme, “We’ve never done it that way before.” Their favourite hymn is, “I shall not be, I shall not be moved”. The goal of the tradition driven church is to perpetuate the past. Change is seen as the enemy to spiritual growth and stagnation is interpreted as stability. The truth is, the church is in constant change every day. A church that is not moving forward is dead! We need to ask ourselves, how are we moving with the change?
2. Churches driven by personality:
It might be a pastor who has a long tenure is I much loved by his congregation. It could be a church member/leader who everyone looks too for final decision making. The focus of the church is on a person. What does he/she want? The problem is with this kind of church, the agenda is determined by the needs, aspirations and insecurities of the leader or leaders rather than by Gods will or the needs of the people.
3. Churches driven by finances:
churches that are driven by finances have one question on the agenda of every board meeting, “How much will it cost?’
Rather than finances dictating the ministry and direction a church should go, the greater issue is what does God want the church to be? The bottom line for ministry is not how much did we save, but how many people were saved? That cannot be measured on a balance sheet.
4. Churches driven by Programs:
When programs are the driving force, the focus is upon maintaining and sustaining programs of the church. Rarely does anyone ask how many people are being changed and helped. The emphasis is how many workers do we have/need? A great deal of ministry burnout often occurs in this kind of church.