This Sunday is Whitsunday, or, Pentecost Sunday. It’s impossible to fully grasp all that happened when the Holy Spirit was poured out on Pentecost. However, I’d like to draw your attention to two events that took place that day. 1)There was a Demonstration of God’s Glory followed by 2) a Proclamation of God’s Gospel. Those two things went together throughout the rest of the book of Acts and have gone together ever since. Believers, filled with the Holy Spirit, demonstrate God’s glory in various ways. Non-believers take notice and ask, “what is this all about?” Then there’s an opportunity to proclaim God’s Gospel.
In Acts 2:12 after the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples and they spoke in the languages of the people around, it says, “Amazed and perplexed, they [the non-believers] asked one another, ‘What does this mean?’” Good question. Rather than leave them to wonder or figure it out on their own, there was a proclamation of God’s Gospel. In Acts 2:14 it says, “Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: ‘Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say.’” He then gave a clear proclamation of the Gospel to where many people repented and believed the good news and were saved! The demonstration of God’s Glory led to the proclamation of God’s Gospel. May we, in the power of the Spirit do the same in our day!
Then, with three thousand new believers saved that day, the first local church was formed. In that first church we see a wonderful snapshot of what God intended for his church to be and do. Read again this description in Acts 2:42-47 of what a healthy growing church looks like:
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he 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.”
Did you see the five vital aspects of a Healthy church described in there? What they did wasn’t over-complicated and it is what every local church has done ever since. And when a local congregation balances these same five areas, it will be healthy, and healthy congregations typically grow. In this Pentecost season let me remind you what they are so, in the power of the Spirit, your congregation can continue to (or start to) practice them:
In Acts 2:42-47 we see people in love with Jesus and filled with the Holy Spirit do these five things:
- Gather together for regular Worship: “Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts.” This is large group, corporate worship. They gathered daily. We at least gather weekly.
- Meet together for Fellowship: “They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.” This must describes small group fellowship because only so many of the 3,000+ could fit in a home. And this included eating together – which we can certainly do that in our times!
- Grow in maturity through Discipleship: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” They studied and learned and practiced and grew to maturity as followers of the risen Christ.
- Serve one another in Ministry: “Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.” They used their gifts serving the church family and gave generously of their time, talents, and treasure.
- Bring in others to the church through Evangelism: “And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Through the demonstration of God’s glory through miracles and their unique love for one another, they continuously gave the proclamation of God’s Gospel to all around. People got saved. The church grew numerically and spread.
If you want your church to grow, do these 5 things. Easy, right? Not exactly but we at the American Anglican Council can help. These are five VITAL Aspects of Healthy Growing Churches that we teach on and provide coaching to implement in our Church Revitalization resources. We communicate these using the word VITAL to help remember them and their vital importance:
Vision for Evangelism
Transformation to Christlikeness (Discipleship)
Authentic Community (Fellowship)
Life of Service (Ministry)
What is your church’s plan for each VITAL area? How is your local congregation living out these same five areas that the first local congregation did? Are you doing some well but not others? How can you be balanced and do all five well?
Feel free to reach out to us at the American Anglican Council for help. Our domestic focus is on helping as many Anglican congregations thrive and grow as possible. Please know we are praying for the Holy Spirit to empower your church to be revitalized in our day!
The Rev. Canon Mark Eldredge is Director of Church Revitalization and Coaching at the American Anglican Council. Reach Canon Mark at MEldredge@AmericanAnglican.org