Acts 8:4 says that early Christians responded to the vicious persecution of Saul and other Jewish leaders by going “everywhere preaching the gospel.” That first generation of the church grew at an astounding rate – thousands of new Christians in only a few months, perhaps hundreds of thousands in only a few years. The key to their phenomenal growth is the fact that “ordinary” Christians did the sharing, caring, and teaching. They didn’t wait for elders, preachers, or “experts” to do all the teaching.
Almost 200 years ago, this nation experienced a profound surge of interest in religion, the so-called “Second Great Awakening;” sincere men and women discarded the division of denominational religion in favor of the unified Christianity they saw in their own new testaments. As they turned back to the simplicity of the scriptures, their numbers grew to the point that churches of Christ numbered more than 1,000,000 members by 1900. As in the book of Acts, their rapid growth was due to the efforts of individual Christians, not just congregational leaders. Similarly, in the 1950’s and 60’s the church was the fastest-growing religious body in the nation, for the same basic reason.
Since we know what the original Christians did, and those in the 1800’s and 1900’s, that caused the church to grow (and we know that it works), if we want to see the Fayetteville church grow we need to follow their examples! (This is one POINT of our “compassion card” effort, to open doors for the gospel.)
For any kind of outreach to be truly effective, there are several things we absolutely MUST do: We must love Jesus, John 14:15, who commanded us to spread His gospel. (We prove we don’t love Him when we don’t share what we know!) Jesus taught that we should love others as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:37-39), and surely this includes caring about their souls! John says we cannot love God if we don’t love others (1 John 4:19-20); we sometimes describe reaching out to others as “personal work:” Have we missed the point that it’s PERSONAL? Look inside this bulletin for a list of compassion card groups, and commit to participate! Get copies of the “Back to the Bible” study booklets and follow along in them during the morning sermons this month! The more we grow personally, the easier it becomes to grow the congregation.