Only one of these books, the Acts of the Apostles, is in any sense a history of the Church, and that to only a limited degree and for certain phases only of its development (cf. Humanly speaking, the odds were all stacked against it. The early church highly emphasized the essentials of teaching, fellowship, worship, and prayer. And the church continued to grow. The Book of Acts and the Epistles show how striking were the results. A simple fact of farm life is that before there can be a harvest the seed must be planted. We must understand why these churches were so strong and the secret of why they so successfully multiplied across the Roman Empire. Whenever I read through the book of Acts I'm struck with the number of times Luke comments on the growth of the church. © 2017 BILD International2400 Oakwood RoadAmes, IA 50014-8417515-292-7012. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied. To prove this point, let us take a quick look at church growth in the book of Acts, with a special view to the church in Jerusalem. The narrative centers on the ministry of Peter and John. The first Jewish proselyte mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles was a governmental administrator from Ethiopia, … Acts 5:14 - And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women. Today, missions, driven by western enterprises, see the mission as primarily a multiplication of individuals, as epitomized in parachurch organizations propagating an American “discipleship movement” that focuses on the multiplication of individuals not churches. Acts 2:41 - So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. The early church was a growing church. A Spontaneously Expanding Complex Network. The Great Commission, recorded in the gospel and unfolded in Acts, is a worldwide multiplication of churches. While the Christian population of the Empire was a very modest number at the end of the first century, it had grown to encompass more than 10% of the population, or 6,299,832 Christians, by the year 300. First, the church of Christ was not established at “just anytime” in history. Acts 12:24 - But the word of God increased and multiplied. Share Share Tweet Tweet Email . the account of the first men who heard the Great Commission and reveals what anyone can B.Acts is a historical and Transitional Bridge. For the early history of the Church, as for the life and teaching of Jesus, the books of the New Testament are virtually our sole important sources. The early church was devoted to the apostles’ … The Jerusalem Council became a pivotal point in the history of the early church. The record from the book of Acts couldn't be clearer. Justin Taylor | April 2, 2014 . Acts 5:14. c. Acts 6:1, 7. d. When people live for God, as He wills, they accomplish His work according to His purpose. a. The Expulsive Power of a New Affection. Each of us has been impressed with the rapid growth of the early church. The book of Acts is the story of the explosive world wide growth of the early church. Chap. God acts to restore Israel and increase it through his servants. Acts 6:7 - And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith. All rights reserved. The chart to the right shows the multiplication of churches from the first to the third centuries. 1. Three thousand were baptized on Pentecost (Acts 2:41). This tradition, based on the way of Christ and His Apostles is known as the Antioch Tradition. Early on in the expansion of the churches, it is clear in Acts that networks began to form: the Jerusalem Council, the letter to the churches from the Council, the gift collected for the Jerusalem churches from the Gentiles churches, the network of letters circulated, etc. This ‘closed’ gospel was a major concern for Christians like Paul. “The seed is the word of God” (Lk. 2. Early Church Growth . God planned for Jesus to come to Earth and for His church to be established at a special and specific point in time i… More By Justin . In the early church, some regarded Christians as Jews who have received Jesus as the promised Saviour. Consequently, any Gentile desiring to become a Christian must first become a Jew. It is essential that we visit the New Testament afresh in these historic times. Generations of scholars approached this question from different perspectives and with different methods. There was an issue processing your request. In one generation these small churches turned the world upside down and in three centuries radically transformed the Roman Empire. [5] The Early Church Growth Bible scriptures located in Acts 2:36-47 explains directly from God's Word the Early Church Growth topic. Another pivotal point in the growth of the church can be found in Acts 10 and 11. 80 Years Ago C. S. Lewis Warned Against Making Faith a Means to a Political End. Churches were planted in all the great cities of Asia Minor and Macedonia. 8:11) b. If a church wants to grow and if Christianity is to spread, believers must devote themselves to their pastor’s or leader’s teachings, they must be devoted to one another in the fellowship of the saints, they need to spend time breaking bread (or eating) together which required spending time with one another, they need to be devoted to ongoing, continual prayer, they need to be sharing with on… And a great many people were added to the Lord. Thus, the ministry of the Holy Spirit brought unity to God’s work. The church grew, and can grow today, by following in the footsteps of the early church. As the early Church began expanding, it brought together many different cultures, which was both a challenge and a blessing. Look again at the growth of the early church in Jerusalem: a. It is very important for us to look closely and carefully at this early church-planting movement to discover its success. Please complete the form below and someone from our team will be in touch with you. Growing a church is not an either-or proposition, evangelism or … One modern Christian writer describes how the early church worked together to … These themes are also experienced as growing pains in modern organizations. As church grew, the Spirit continued to guide in such situations as the ordination of Paul (Acts 9:17), in the welcoming of Gentiles into the church (Acts 10:44–47), in the parting of Barnabas and Paul for missionary work (Acts 13:2–4), in the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15:28), and in Paul’s missionary journeys (Acts 16:6, 7). Paul and the early Church were not at odds with the laws of the Old Testament! These practices are noted in Acts 2:42 and can be seen in many of the congregations started by the apostles in Acts and Paul's letters. The theological substructure of Acts is that growth is God's act; it is his blessing by which he shows his faithfulness to his promises. In looking at ekklēsia, the Greek word most often translated “church” in Acts, we see churches that are locally self-governed and are supported by energized ministers. As the Early Church expanded, the shape of the early church networks that emerged is also important to understand as we strive to get back to “the way of Christ and His Apostles.” From a careful study of the New Testament and early church research, we have attempted to map the complex network of the early churches that emerged towards the end of the apostolic age. The Word of God Increased The spiritual factos of the rapid growth od the church in the book of Acts were the five pusposes of the church from Acts 2: worship, teaching, discipleship, ministry, evangelism and mission. The growth of Early Church mirrored the growth of modern organizations in many ways. In one generation, these small churches turned the world upside down, and in 300 years spread across the Roman Empire––radically transforming that entire region of the world. The Book of Acts is a narrative about the birth and growth of the early Church. Acts 6:1 - Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. © 2009–2020 Ryan Wentzel. 3 The Acts of the Apostles • Author: Luke, companion of Paul • Date: c. AD 62-69 • Theme: Written by a Gentile, Acts tells the story of the Early Church and its growth, especially through the work of the Holy Spirit & the ministries of Peter and Paul. Church Growth in the Book of Acts A church of Christ can and will grow spiritually and numerically when it is faithful to the word of God. Please make sure all fields are filled out. The question is: Why? The language of growth in Acts can be grouped into two broad categories: 1) texts that speak of the word of God increasing or spreading 2) texts that speak of the number of disciples increasing. As the gospel shifts in the 20th and 21st centuries to the Global South, especially to Asia in this century, we are quickly returning to the apostolic era. In the 3 rd chapter they had just healed the lame man at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple. It is very important for both the Global South church-planting movements and the churches in the declining West to rediscover their roots as found in the apostolic traditions in Acts and the Apostles' letters to the New Testament churches. An interesting episode in Acts that highlights the growing diversity of the Church and its converts is the encounter between Philip and an Ethiopian in Acts 8:26–39. Look at any church budget and you’ll probably find 1 or 2 percent of church funds allocated to benevolence—helping poor people in need. It survived to the 4th century but was replaced by western Greek and Roman traditions. By definition, a growing and fruitful … quantify and explain the growth of the early church ... techniques are applied to social networks derived from the New Testament narratives contained in the Gospels and Acts… Because Change Is Inevitable We Must Be Adaptable. Acts 2:41, 47. b. Deepen your spiritual roots. The early church's growth was often associated with meeting practical needs. Acts 9:31 - So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. Its initial chapters describe the Church's founding and early years; its later chapters describe the travels and actions of the apostle Paul. Thank you for subscribing. The book of Acts presents merely a partial acco… Later Luke records that "multitudes both of men and women" were "added to the Lord" (Acts 5:14). When Jesus told his disciples that they would be witnesses to the end of the earth, they had no idea that this would include Gentiles. The book of Acts provides a detailed, orderly, eyewitness account of the birth and growth of the early church and the spread of the gospel immediately after the resurrection of Jesus Christ. At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles, who then went on to baptize 3,000 people were that same day, as recounted in the Book of Acts. Its narrative supplies a bridge connecting the life and ministry of Jesus to the life of the church and the witness of the earliest believers. Acts 13:49 - And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region. Acts 16:5 - So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and they increased in numbers daily. Acts 2:47 - And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. Acts 19:20 - So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily. It was unthinkable that a small, despised movement from a corner of Palestine could move out to become the dominant faith of the mighty Roman Empire, an empire steeped in fiercely defended traditional pagan religions. Mapping the growth and expansion of the Early Churches and discovering the secret of their successful multiplication. They were devoted to the apostles’ teaching. They had not ventured out as Jesus had commanded in Acts 1:8. In Christianity: Church and minorities. Historical research, analysis of early Christian texts and theological reflection were the most The language of growth in Acts can be grouped into two broad categories: 1) texts that speak of the word of God increasing or spreading 2) texts that speak of the number of disciples increasing. 13). The amazing growth of the early church The church grew rapidly during the first centuries. The early church increased in number so dramatically in a relatively short period of time for a variety of reasons. In Acts, numerical growth is a covenant blessing where God multiplies and increases the number of his people through the ministry of the church. As the gospel expands now to the Global South, we need to return to the Antioch Tradition–– to the way of Christ and His Apostles. Acts 2:36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. How did the early Christian church survive? A social-rhetorical texture analysis of the book of Acts reveals three themes or stages in the Early Church: growth, competition and change. Growth of the Early Church Early on in the expansion of the churches, it is clear in Acts that networks began to form: the Jerusalem Council, the letter to the churches from the Council, the gift collected for the Jerusalem churches from the Gentiles churches, the network of letters circulated, etc. “Before time began” God purposed to offer salvation to the world through Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 1:9). The early church was a growing church. Maybe another 5 percent, or 10 percent at best, is given to needs outside the church that on some level help the poor. In the early church, racism was unknown; the Jewish synagogues allowed Black proselytes. This tradition, based upon the way of Christ and His Apostles, is known as the Antioch Tradition. Drawing on his training as a sociologist, Stark has suggested a general growth rate of 3.42% per year, or 40% per decade, in the early church. In a short time the number of the men was 5000 (Acts 4:4). 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