Relevance of Local Churches
It has been decades since we have witnessed widespread Christian revival in churches in Europe and America. During this time, the Church has quietly but methodically transitioned from proclaimers of Good News to caretakers and groundskeepers. For the most affluent or financially endowed churches, their exteriors have been maintained and upgraded into beautiful edifices with sumptuous gardens, marvelous stained glass windows, and meticulously manicured woodwork. Yet, these churches echo when one enters their sanctuaries, for they are devoid of humanity.
For the less affluent churches, they simply crumble and are being sold off for homes, business offices, or torn down to make room for parking lots. Indeed, the Church universal has been bleeding membership for such a long time that we now have several generations of people that have never set foot in a church except for a wedding or funeral.
These millions of unchurched people have woven their own religion by taking bits and pieces of everything from Buddhism to Marxism. But this decline is ending. Jesus no longer allows His Bride to be a prostitute, selling Herself to anyone at any price.
Past Christian Movements
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,”Matthew 27:19
In the 1700s, Charles Wesley and two students started the Holy Club. Charles’ brother John joined them. The result was a movement that transformed England and was transplanted into America, resulting in a dramatic growth of relevant local churches with Biblical veracity. In the 1800s, a movement led in part by D.L. Moody swept America with similar results.
During the 1900s, America and the world experienced multiple renewals. First, In 1905, William J. Seymour, a one-eyed 34-year-old son of freed slaves, began preaching in a shack located on Azusa Street in Los Angeles. Out of this tiny church was birthed the Holiness Movement and revitalized Baptist, Mennonite, Quaker, and Presbyterian denominations.
Then, in the mid–1900s, Billy Sunday and Billy Graham came on the scene. From the services of these evangelists, churches across America and England saw dramatic growth and renewed vigor. Towards the end of the 1900s, the world experienced terrific revivals in Toronto, Canada, and Pensacola, Florida.
Now, during the 2000s, astonishing church growth is witnessed in such unexpected places as Sierra Leone and Albania. This new move of God is taking hold in America. It has surfaced in Arkansas and a few other places. But it’s time for Christians across America to come into this movement. It’s time for us to stop being caretakers and become disciple-makers.
From Caretakers to Disciple Makers
Let’s remember that a local church is not a building. Instead, a local church is a congregation, a group of Christians that have gathered and established a common community, wholly submitted to the commands of Christ and accountable to a proven Christian bishop (overseer1). A primary work of a local church is making disciples. The word disciple means a follower or student of a teacher, leader, or philosopher. Every Christian is a disciple, for we follow Jesus and continually strive, as dedicated students, to learn more and apply more of God’s Word in our lives.
“And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”2 Timothy 2:2
As a disciple, Jesus has equipped us to make other disciples. The old way, like “pact a pew,” no longer works. However, people are more desperate than ever for a personal, relevant relationship with the one true God. We have the right message, and Christ has commissioned us for this work. What remains is for us to physically get up and go out and do it – to make disciples of Jesus.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.”John 14:12
Not every Christian is gifted with oratory skills, but every believer has a personal testimony. Telling people your testimony is how most people begin their journey to salvation and discipleship.
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