The church, God's called out body of believers, was a mystifying faction. The Old Testament prophets failed to perceive its existence. And it didn't even exist during Christ's tenure on earth.
JESUS first mentions HIS CHURCH when he is asking his disciples ..."Whom do men say that I the Son of Man am?" Peter responds ..."thou art the CHRIST, the Son of the Living GOD!" JESUS says to Peter..."Flesh and blood has not revealed that to thee, but my FATHER which is in Heaven. And I say unto you, thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my CHURCH; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." (Matthew 16:13-18)
The first church came into being, as a direct result of the Apostle Peter's dynamitic --preaching ( Acts 2:37-41 ). The church had no arguable denominational ties. Nor did it have any doctrinal differences, as their doctrine was the full gospel, according to scripture. ( 1 Cor 15:1-4 )
Their church by-laws were simple.( Acts 2:42-47 )
--- They were devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
--- Reverential awe came over everyone, and many wonders and miraculous signs came about by the apostles.
--- All who believed were together and held everything in common, and they began selling their property and possessions and distributing the proceeds to everyone, as anyone had need.
--- Every day they continued to gather together by common consent in the temple courts, breaking bread from house to house, sharing their food with glad and humble hearts, praising God and having the good will of all the people.
--- And the Lord was adding to their number every day those who were being saved.
What brought about this marvelous new movement, called the church ? Simply put, the apostles had just been filled with the Holy Spirit.( Acts 2:1-5 ) This Holy Spirit was the same comforter, that Jesus had promised.( Acts 1:4-5, 8 ) that He would give them after His departure. ( Acts 1:9 )
And this same Holy Spirit directed the Apostle Peter to preach his famous sermon. with which the first church was born. ( Acts 2:14-36 )
Secondly, let us look at the seven churches mentioned in the book of Revelation. These were actual churches in place during the writing of Revelation.
Although, these churches dated back to John's day, we may still draw a spiritual parallel to our churches and believers of today. How do these churches relate to your church ?
---The church at Ephesus- (Revelation 2:1-7) - This church lost its first love.
---The church at Smyrna- ( Revelation 2:8-11 )- This church would suffer persecution.
--- The church at Pergamum- ( Revelation 2:12-17) This church needed to repent..
--- The church at Thyatira- ( Revelation 2:18-29 )- This church had a false prophetess. .
--- The church at Sardis- ( Revelation 3:1-6 )- This church had fallen asleep.
--- The church at Philadelphia- ( Revelation 3:7-13 )- This church had endured patiently. .
--- The church at Laodicea- ( Revelation 3:14-22 )- This church was lukewarm in the faith. .
Well, let is now venture forward to the 21st. Century. As a Christian, what do you look for in a church ? Here's my thoughts:
---The true gospel should be relevant at all functions, from the Sunday morning service to the youth functions.
--- It should be a friendly church. Making visitors feel at home by your conversation and a friendly hand shake.
--- The pastor should preach at a level that all understand, from the very young to the young at heart.
--- It should be a church where all bring their Bibles and the scripture is always read.
--- And most important, it must be a soul winning church. If they are not interested in bringing people into the Kingdom of God, don't waste your time with them. It doesn't matter how friendly or how many activities the church may have. The churches main theme must be to tell others how to go to Heaven. If not, they are not a church interested in God's work.
The institute for American church growth asked over 10,000 people this question: "What was responsible for your coming to this church?" This is how they replied.
I had a special need.............2%
I just walked in.................3%
I liked the Pastor...............6%
I visited there..................1%
I liked the Sunday School........1%
I liked the programs.............3%
A friend or relative invited me..79%
How many times do visitors, who are looking for a new church, visit your church never to come back? How many times do you introduce yourself to visitors and make them feel at home ?
So, do you ever ask why people don't go to church ? Here's an interesting survey:
Reasons people don’t go to church
(Among infrequent attendees and non-attendees)
Boring or unfulfilling church services 42%
Beliefs of the church 35%
Church’s moral views 35%
No need to 34%
Prefer to do other things 31%
“My beliefs are too weak” 27%
The way churches are organized 24%
Other commitments 21%
Bad experience among church people 16%
Not enough time because of work 15%
Source: Why People Don’t Go to Church, 1998 Australian Community Survey
Yes beloved, we have our work cut out for us. It's up to us to make the church TRIUMPHANT.