Friday, August 28, 2009

Future Church Growth

If any church is going to continue in the future, it will take the work of individuals to spread the gospel, to disciple believers, and to produce leaders for the next generation. Without this important work, any church will fail. The congregation may continue to exist but without this focus, their relevance will be severely diminished now and in the future. This is serious stuff! We need to get busy!

These thoughts drew my attention back to the beginning of the early church. After his resurrection, the Lord Jesus readied his disciples for the future with individual attention and group meetings. But after a short period of time, he left them to do the work. This must have been a daunting task for them. (Is it any wonder that they stared into the sky after his ascension?) How would they carry out the task of local and world evangelism?

The secret is found in what Jesus said just before his ascension. Not only did he tell them what to do, he also gave them the power to do it! "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you ... ." Yes, the disciples had to work hard at their job, but the key to their success was the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. He enabled them to speak and be heard, to do miracles which validated the message, and to spread the gospel farther in one generation than anyone would have expected! The result was that the small group who met for prayer at the end of Acts 1 was used by God to evangelize the thousands assembled in Jerusalem who later spread the gospel (spurred on by persecution) throughout the Roman empire!

It is time that we follow their example, relying on the Holy Spirit, to spread the good news to those we meet at the barbershop, in our neighborhoods, in our families, at work, and even while traveling away from home. We must also take the next step of discipling new believers in the teachings of the Savior. This teaching is vital if we are to have a next generation who will know, love, and serve the Lord. Finally, we must also train new leaders to take our places in the future. Without leaders, the flock will scatter or be led astray by the next generation of false teachers.

The task is set before us and God's power is readily available. So, what's stopping us? Let's get busy!

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