In my last post (that I just edited so correct the color of most of the text) I ended with this thought:
“I can’t help but think of the infant church, birthed at Pentecost, and whether or not Peter’s vision for the new church was to create a place that ‘unchurched people love to attend’. There seems to be a disconnect between the church growth strategy of our author and the NT model. At the same time the ‘give them a place they will love to attend’ seems to be the prevailing model in today’s evangelical culture.”
Even a casual reader of the book of Acts, the history of the New Testament church, will pick up on the huge difference between the NT model for church growth and what prevails in our time.
First of all, I’m not at all sure there was a ‘model’ followed by the NT church. Those early Jewish believers were mostly ecstatic that they had found the Messiah they had longed for and went about sharing the great news! Add Holy Spirit power to their joyous testimony and the church just grew as ‘the Lord added to it daily those who were being saved’ (Acts 2:47). There no gimmicks to attract nonbelievers, no offerings of worldly entertainment or promises of prosperity and success in this life. There was just a simple message of having found the Messiah, devotion to sound doctrine, prayer and fellowship. (Acts 2:42). The purpose of the church was the equipping believers to live lives worthy of the One who had saved them and prepare them to ‘go and make disciples of all nations’ (Matt 28:19). When persecution arose, they scattered and just kept on preaching the good news! They didn’t have time to develop ‘models’ and ‘methods’. They just did what came naturally (NEW naturally, that is).
These days some pastors want to give the ‘unchurched’ (nonbelievers) a church they will love to attend. Some have even told the folks in the theater seats that the church is NOT for them, but FOR the lost! Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for nonbelievers coming through the doors of the Chapel we attend, but should we have as a goal creating a place they would rather come than say, watching the latest NFL pregame show?
The big question here, as I see it, is this: “Why and how did church growth change from Jesus adding to the church ‘those who were being saved’, to us adding to the church those we can convince that our church is a really cool place?”
I think I know, but this isn’t about what I think I know. If you are reading this, I would love to hear your thoughts on the matter.