A recent Pew foundation research suggests that mainline Protestant churches in the
Have you wondered why we see the decrease in Protestant Mainline Churches and what is the cause for the growth of Pentecostals? The trend of growth and decline is normal in the life cycle of any Church. Let me illustrate this (power point). In the life of any church there is a time for growth and at some point it reaches its peak and then plateaus. Any Church which merely exists, for the sake of existing soon will start to decline, unless some radical steps are taken and change is introduced that church will slowly but surely die. We don’t wish that for any Church and not certainly for our Church.
While a number of reasons can be attributed to decline, the main reason that can be stated for growth is the work of the Holy Spirit. Where the Holy Spirit is honored, respected and given prominence there we see both qualitative and quantitative growth. The Holy Spirit was at work in the early Church in
Before I introduce you to the Acts 2 process, let’s look at our Church so that we have a context to bring this process into. (ECCOA Power Point). Our vision is “Building a diverse community that loves God and shares the gospel with all ethnic groups in
Let me break this down. A diverse community: God’s agenda has always been and will always be for all people of all races, and cultures. To get a glimpse of what heaven it going to look like let’s turn to Rev 7:9, “After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people, and language, standing before the throne and in front of the lamb.”
In heaven you don’t see a
In order to build a diverse community it takes a diverse group of people coming together and using their God given diverse skills and talents. As it is, we are a diverse community and we want to remain as one and continue to grow even more diverse. While we celebrate the uniqueness of our diversity however we realize that our goal is not simply diversity but “Loving God” which is the next part of our vision. Jesus has summarized the whole law of God into to straightforward commandments. “You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matt 22:37-39 NLT)
This should be the core of all that we are and all that we do. Only out of our love for God we love others. When we love others we want the best for them. What is better than introducing them to Jesus? How do we do that? That brings us to the next piece of our vision, “Sharing the gospel.”
One of the main reasons why we exist as a Church is to see souls saved and lives changed. If we can summarize Jesus’ mission on earth into one sentence it would be this, “TO SEEK AND SAVE THE LOST” The parable of the lost sheep explains the mission of Jesus. In this parable we see the heart of a good shepherd who would not rest but go to any distance and experience any hardship until the lost sheep is found. In his own words Jesus said, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”(Lk 19:10)
Elsewhere we read how Jesus was not content with a few of those who were saved but expressed concern over those who were not yet saved. In John 10:16, “I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.” If Jesus was and is concerned about lost souls don’t you think you and I should also be concerned about the lost? What is your concern?
As a Church we are committed to see souls saved and lives changed. Obviously, you and I can not save a single soul no matter what we do; it has to be the work of the Holy Spirit, however God will not just simply save people, then how will he do it? He will do it through the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus by his people. Proclaiming the Gospel doesn’t mean simply telling some body “Jesus loves you” or giving them the four Spiritual laws booklet. It is more than that; it is holistic. We must preach the whole gospel which touches the body, soul, and mind.
What is the Gospel? It is well summarized in Titus chapter 3;3 in the Message version “ It wasn’t so long ago that we ourselves were stupid and stubborn, dupes of sin, ordered around every which way by our glands, going around with a chip on our shoulder, hated and hating back. But when God our kind and loving Savior God stepped in, he saved us from all that. It was all his doing; we had nothing to do with it. He gave us a good bath, and we came out of it new people, washed inside and out by the Holy Spirit.
Our savior Jesus poured out new life so generously. God’s gift has restored our relationship with him and given us back our lives. And there’s more life to come – an eternity of life! This is too good to keep to ourselves this must be shared with every one. That brings us to the last piece of our vision, “all ethnic groups in
All ethnic groups in
I believe our Church’s vision is in line with God’s vision for His Church worldwide. However, having a vision statement on paper or believing that statement would not do anything. For the past three years we’ve been rather in a mode of regrouping and learning how to function as Church.
We have seen some good things happening in our lives and in the life of our Church. We thank God for it. But let’s not be satisfied, there is much more that God wants to do in our Church.
He wants to take us to the next level. If we want to see souls saved, lives changed and discipled it takes more than the pastor or a few individuals. It takes all of us intentionally getting involved in a process that is found in Acts 2: 42-47. Let me clarify, it is not a method or a twelve step program or a quick fix but it is a process. With the Acts 2 process you never get to the end; both the Church and the individual continue to develop in each element of the process.
In Acts 2: 42-47, we discover five key elements that fostered the growth in the early Church. They are: 1. Worship, 2. Connect, 3, Serve, 4. Go, 5. Grow. Knowing the Church in Acts 2 had these five activities is fine, but without applying them in a systematic way to our Church and our lifestyle, they are lifeless. I believe that embracing this process creates an intentional and exciting Journey for all of us. Amen!