Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Four Essential Ingredients of Vibrant Christian Growth

Vibrant Christian Growth
Our church is experiencing some exciting days. Many new faces, including newborns, are present each week. We have prayed and even fasted for God to move in our midst and we are seeing the church grow spiritually, emotionally, and numerically. I believe this is just the beginning of what God longs to do in Findlay, Ohio.

I want to refocus us on our mission, “To Make Christlike Disciples in the Nations.” It is so crucial to always keep that before us as a church and as individual members of this church. Whenever I want to remind myself of the privilege and responsibility we have as the “Church,” I am always drawn back to the first church that began in the book of Acts. In Acts 2:42-47, it says, “They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

The growth we are experiencing is very small compared the growth of the early church. The previous verse mentioned the church growing 3,000 in one day. Now that would change your structure over night.

As we look at the first church and the fact that we are to be making disciples for Christ, I want to remind us of our responsibility. There is a three-fold responsibility:
One is for the church. We have a responsibility to provide opportunities to be and make more disciples. This is always before us.
The second responsibility is for each person. Everyone is called to be and make disciples. It is not an option.
The third responsibility falls on our homes. Every parent is called to raise up their children in the Lord. So let me begin to break down the responsibility that is placed on us.

In Acts 2:42-47, it shows the church was devoted to four ingredients that were essential for a vibrant Christian life: nurture, worship, community, and mission. In the weeks ahead, I want to expound even further on these important expressions of the faith. Let me just touch on them briefly in this devotional.

Nurture involves growth in both mind and spirit (Romans 12:2). God can nurture us through different books, films, lectures, sermons, and other resources. But the most effective way to grow is with others. That is why we are always encouraging everyone to become a part of a Discipleship Class on Sunday morning. Learning together and processing the Word of God on a regular basis is good for the soul.

Worship is the natural overflow as we take in God’s Word into our lives. Knowledge and love for God increases and worship springs forth. In verse 43 it says that everyone was filled with awe. That means filled with amazement, respect, reverence, and wonder. They worshiped with a glad and sincere heart, not mad and critical hearts. Worship unites a body of believers like nothing else.

Christian community is different from being a member of an organization. It resembles love and obligation we have toward members of our immediate family. It is devotion based on experience we share of God at work saving us from a “corrupt generation” around us (Acts 2:40). The outcome is that we are built up together as we share needs, confess sins and faults, bear each other’s burdens, encourage and pray for each other.

Mission is the fourth ingredient to a vibrant Christian life and church. We exist to serve and reach out to a hurting world in need of hope. We are to share the good news of Christ’s love to all people. As people come in contact with the love of God, the Spirit witnesses to their spirit and transformation can happen. Mission includes sharing our faith, social action, world missions, taking a meal to the sick, ministering in Jesus’ name, learning how we can make a difference locally and globally.

As we continue to grow, we want to stay true to our mission and purpose. We don’t exist to keep programs running. We exist as a church to advance the kingdom of God and provide a place of equipping and an atmosphere of Biblically centered growth.

So let me encourage you to get all you can by putting your whole self in growing to be more like Christ. Mix in all four ingredients to experience growth directly from the Lord that will last.

Let me remind you of our Advent series entitled, “Celebrate.” It will begin on Sunday, December 1. Devotional books are available in the foyer for the next few weeks as we prepare for this great advent experience. You will not want to miss the first Sunday of Advent. We are doing something we have never done before. You will be glad you came.

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike

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