Written by cycleguy on May 19th, 2013

For about the past two years, I have been teaching “Route 66,” a survey of the 66 books of the Bible.  The study I am using as a guide has it done in a year.  Aaaah yeah, like that is going to happen.  In fact, at the end of this year it will be  two years exactly since I started.  To be fair, we have taken summer breaks, as well as holiday breaks.  I am not going to fight a losing battle  of having people make choices that make them resent regret making the commitment to class, nor do I like feeling tied down during certain times.  Anyway, to make a long story short our summer break will start after this Wednesday (although they have asked to continue with a small group study in homes which is really cool).  Our “66” class will finish this session with Acts (it will be week 3 for us).

You can’t help but be impressed with the early church.  Have you ever checked out its growth rate?

  • Acts 1:14-15- 120
  • Acts 2:41- 3000
  • Acts 4:4- 5000 men plus women and children
  • Acts 5;14- more added
  • Acts 6:-17- multiplied greatly
  • Acts 10- Gentiles added to the mix

Holy out-of-sight numbers Batman!   I even found a reference that says, “History tells us the Jerusalem church exceeded 100,000  after only seven years!

My comment to the class:  How’s that for keeping the church small?  Of course, I’m sure you have heard all the arguments: “The church is just too big.” “I don’t see how anyone can feel a part of a big church.”  On and on it goes.  Someone was telling me the other day we have more megachurches today than at any other time.

My question is this: If that is so, why are we not on the cusp of a revolution?  Better yet, why are we not now in a revolution?  As Richard Stearns writes in his new book, Unfinished,

The very Son of God became flesh and lived among us.  He died that we might find forgiveness and reconciliation with God.  He commissioned us to bring this same good news to the nations of the world, yet we have failed to deliver.  What happened to the revolution?

There is certainly more to believing in God and calling it quits at that point.   That is one big factor which set the early church apart from us.  We seem to be content to “believe and quit.”   But I believe the Bible is very clear it should be “believe and act.”  That is where the revolution can/will take place.

What about you?  What do you think?  What are reasons you would give for the failure to revolutionize? 


27 Comments so far ↓

  1. Too often church is looked at as just another organization to join, one that is good for our families and might even help our standing in the community or give us new contacts.

  2. Daniel says:

    I am agoraphobic. If others were anything like me, the church would be doomed. O.K., so that is only a semi-joke. My take is that too often church is like trying to get a flame to take to wet newsprint. It either never gets beyond an ember or a brief flare-up before the crap that saturates our lives gets in the way.

  3. Betty Draper says:

    I can only answer your question with a personal answer…Me …it is I who fails to witness more often , it is I that takes more pleasure in watching a tv program then getting to know my lost neighbors more. The list could go on and on…but it always starts with me and ends with me. To blame it on anyone else would be even more carelessness of the hope I carry inside me, the power to give that hope out. What stops that power…ME.

    I have said this before but it’s truth, I don’t need another book to tell me what to do or another bible study to challenge me…I just need to obey what I already know to do…All this makes me wonder have I lost my first love like the church in Revelation. It is the signs of the end time upon us…no matter, even if it is that should challenge us to give out the gospel more, disciple more, seek His face more. Hard for me to generalize your questions my brother…I think it’s called conviction. thanks for the thought provoking post.

    • cycleguy says:

      It is true Betty that any “fails” comes down to us as individuals. Pointing fingers just doesn’t get it done. thanks for your honesty.

  4. Dan Erickson says:

    I don’t think we fail to revolutionize unless we fail individually. But revolutions take time to build and grow. I just saw Shane Claiborne last night. He’s done amazing things in Philly. It’s up to us to lead or support revolutions.

  5. floyd says:

    I feel like the church has made Christians feel that we’re supposed to be pacifists in all areas, not offending anyone as the goal, which is a lie. We’re to love the lost world thereby sharing truth with them, even if they’re offended, which they will be because they are enemies of the One who calls them through us. We have the disease of being politically correct in a pc world that doesn’t allow Christians to play by the same rules…

    • cycleguy says:

      Tragically you are right Floyd. Don’t offend. Don’t make waves. While you can’t legislate morality, it is too true that they are trying legislate immorality.

  6. Not sure I’m right but I think we have been (the American Church) so concerned with improving our leadership skills, that we have forgotten that we need to be followers first and foremost. Followers that burn with a love that transcends what we think about our “ministry” or “calling”. Jesus said…”come, follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” not, I will make you leaders of men. Believe me, I think leadership is important…but I honestly believe we have lost sight of “followship”.

  7. Desert Jim says:

    This is something I’ve thought about lately regarding the 1st church. Yes, Peter preached wherever he did to attract 3,000 men, but it seems like people were simply attracted to that group. So, my question is what was it that brought people to the 1st church even without an invitation? Was it that people shared their posessions? Was it the healings? Was it to seek God?

    The church is missing something today and it doesn’t seem too attractive to those outside.

    Remember, the simple song “They’ll know we are Christians by our love”? I’m not sure that is what we’re known for anymore. I think individually we are but maybe not as a whole.

    • cycleguy says:

      It is an interesting question DJ. What drew (attracted) the people to that church? Some of it was the power and the manifestations I have no doubt. But the love they showed others stands head and shoulders above those reasons. Good point.

  8. Dave says:

    1Co 4:20 For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.

    Too many words, not enough demonstration of power and godly love to prove the truth and origin of the words.

    I’ve been wondering lately what it looks and sounds like when Christ spews a church out of his mouth.

    Perhaps it is happening right now and that is the reason books are being written to tell Christians to love and be humble. We all should weep over the fact that there’s a need to write such things, not talk about it and debate what to do.

    And I agree with others, it does come down to what am “I” doing as a follower of Christ. Am I living a Christly life? Is my fellowship truly with the Father and with Jesus Christ? Or am I trying to get people to like me?

    I think I’ll also go and apply this to myself.

    What does it cost to buy “gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see”? And is anyone willing to pay the price?

    Might make for an interesting discussion.

    Thanks for the thought-provoking questions you ask.

    • cycleguy says:

      My guess is that it doesn’t look or sound good at all Dave. I think it might even be one of, if not the, most horrible sound of all. Strange you should use the church in Revelation. I am planning, as of right now, to preach through the seven churches this Fall.

      • Dave says:

        Not really so strange. Susan has a point about the electronics. We can add to it books, games, movies, going out to eat and shop, et cetera, ad infinitum, ad nauseum.

        This may be off topic for this post, but I didn’t see any way to contact you otherwise to continue. And maybe you won’t want me to continue. I don’t know. If ever it comes to that, tell me to take a hike.

        The book of Revelation, the revelation of Jesus Christ. You take on challenges, I see. I love the book. It was written for us, not the world.

        I recently have been reading it again after a long hiatus from it. Good time to expel all previous human opinions that had gathered. Two things, maybe three, the good Lord made grab hold of me are in chapters 2 and 3: To him who overcometh, and Christ telling the church (Christians) to repent (except Philadelphia), individually and collectively.

        “But I thought that all one needed to do was accept Jesus as your personal savior and you just cruised on into heaven?” (And this is the popular thought. No offense to those who came to Christ via that route.) “You mean I have to overcome? Overcome what?”

        Yep, sure do. Overcome the world, materiality and material beliefs, the devil’s subtle and not so subtle lies, sin, sickness, pride, lust, hate, fear, all those carnal mind evils some call “normal” human behavior, and last, but not least, death, which will be swallowed up in victory.

        “And repent? I already did that, right? I thought all was cool.” Perhaps not. Want to argue it with the Lord? I wager any man will lose.

        Ah, but the promises of doing so are great!

        Anyway, I’ll probably go away for a while, until I feel the prompt to come back to your blog. If you would like to continue this discussion, or maybe even kick some thoughts around about Revelation, you have my email.

        • cycleguy says:

          Not sure David what prompted the comment but I will “bite.” I am not one who believes that all one has to do is “accept Jesus and that is it.” I believe discipleship is a whole lot more than saying a prayer and gliding into heaven. Overcoming is essential. As for kicking some thoughts around about Revelation, I am not much into the study of prophecy. I believe Jesus is going to return and no one knows when that will happen. Not even Jesus. I was taught Amil but I really subscribe to no particular view, although I do have one I lean toward. hate to see you go, but thanks for coming by and visiting. Was wondering how you heard about my blog though.

          • Dave says:

            Nothing personal in my comment. And nothing for you to “bite” on. I wasn’t baiting a hook for any purpose. It was not aimed at you or anyone else or where anyone else is in their walk with God. The Lord weighs the heart of each of us, whether we consider ourselves or our neighbors saved or unsaved. Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

            It was the mindset I observed at the church I attended and was prevalent at others that I visited.

            What prompted? And perhaps that’s it, isn’t it? “My comment.” Personal possession. I take responsibility for it. No excuses. It came tumbling out. Some of my own personal spewing and not from God. Perhaps bottled up for some time too long.

            I am with you on the study of prophecy. The message and its application to our lives is more important than trying to fit it into a human history time frame.

            Taught Amil is not familiar to me.

            Found your site via Christian Droid. Was looking for a Bible pronunciation app and he had a review of one. I go back to his blog now and then. Sincere fellow.
            Same with you.

            I will be back when it is right for me to do so. I don’t blog or routinely go to blogs to comment. This is all recent, a month or so.

            • cycleguy says:

              Thanks for getting back to me David. I hope you didn’t see my comment as adversarial. 🙂 By “taught Amil” I was meaning I was taught the Amillennial view of the Second Coming. That is opposed to Pre, Post and Dispensationalism. The latter is probably the most prominent today. I always appreciate visitors and as you can see I do like and allow opposing views. One of my readers is a Deist. he brings some interesting and thought-provoking comments. You will always be welcome back.

              • Dave says:

                Thanks! And no, I didn’t see it as adversarial, thank God! Pride has no place in the mind that was in Christ Jesus.

                Man is God’s image and likeness. That likeness, or expression, if you will, is always understanding of his fellowman and expresses divine love as well as every other quality of God.

                I’m sure I’ll return. We all have something to offer one another.

                I’ll have to look up the terminology.

  9. Susan says:

    There may be multiple reasons that the church is not growing. One of those things might be that some church leaders think that the answer is in a new program, and forget the things that the Founder of the Church said are important like love God and love your neighbor. Some of it may be related to churches who try to impose certain standards or behaviors on believers and in so doing may be interfering with what the Holy Spirit is telling them to do. Maybe we are just too busy to listen to the Holy Spirit. Maybe we need to slow down, sit down (with electronics turned off) and listen.

    The church should be a living organism that is always growing and changing to the tune of the Holy Spirit’s moving in her, not moving in tune to the latest, greatest program for church growth.

    Somehow, I don’t think that the Apostle Paul would recognize some of the organizations that identify as “church.” The Church is the Body of Christ. The Lord adds to the church. If the Lord doesn’t do the building of His body, it ain’t His body.

    • cycleguy says:

      Susan your experience in a cult-like church shows through in this comment. It is not a program or by imposition of standards. It is the living Christ. I totally agree with your last paragraph.

  10. You know what think a big part of it is? The apostles state again and again that they devoted themselves to the study of the word – AND TO PRAYER. I think we’re t self-sufficient in a way.

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