Dr. E. Dale Locke & Rev. Trevor Johnston
Sermon Series: The Exciting Church…
Week 2: …Is Attractive
1. We’re talking in this series about what makes a church exciting. The first time the word “church” comes up in the New Testament is in Matthew 16:18, where Jesus said to his disciple Peter: “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” What do you think caused Jesus’ church to grow over the centuries from such tiny beginnings to the huge size it is now?
2. The church, rightly understood, is a movement of people gathered together around a single, compelling belief – the belief that Jesus is the risen Christ, the Son of the living God. Why do you think God asks people who hold this belief about Jesus to gather together regularly in local congregations with other believers? What are some benefits of being part of a local church?
3. Many local churches throughout the world have become more like monuments than like the movement God intended us to be. What causes a church to become like a monument?
4. Acts 2:42-47: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 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, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”
What questions or comments do you have when you read this passage?
The Exciting Church is Attractive
5. Note Acts 2:43 “everyone was filled with awe….” “Awe” is deep and reverent respect in the presence of God. Have you ever felt awe when you were in a church service, or in a group of Christians, or when you were spending time with God alone? If so, describe what that was like. What do you think caused you to feel that way?
6. Christian music artist, Charlie Hall, wrote a song that says “God is breath giving and breath taking.” What did he mean by that?
7. Acts 2:43 reveals what caused the awe among the first Christians. They had awe because of “the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles.” The early disciples had awe as they experienced amazing things that only God could have done. When have you experienced something that you knew only God could do?
8. Have you ever asked God to reveal himself to you? If so, what happened? If not, why not?
9. Acts 2:47 tells us that the church at that time enjoyed “the favor of all the people.” Favor is the respect and good will of the community. What are some things that help Christians and churches gain the favor of the community around them? What makes the church attractive to outsiders?
10. What do most nonbelievers in our country generally think about Christians and churches?
Four things that will help our church be attractive to our community:
1. The expression of our faith – specifically, expressing our faith in the same way Jesus did. Jesus wasn’t weird or argumentative, like Christians sometimes are today. Irreligious people loved hanging out with Jesus, even though he was a person of deep faith. Do irreligious people enjoy hanging out with you? If so, why? If not, why not?
2. Acts of Service – Community of Hope was founded on free acts of kindness and service, which have been a key part of how we’ve grown over the years. Free acts of service give people a taste of the free grace that Jesus gives with no strings attached. What acts of kindness have you recently done for an unbeliever?
3. How we love one another – The New Testament tells us that those outside the church were impressed by how the Christians loved each other. Tell about how you have observed or experienced that kind of loving support here at Community of Hope.
4. How we model excellence in God’s work – We have an axiom here at COH: Excellence honors God and inspires people. If you’ve ever been in a church that didn’t really strive for excellence, but instead was OK with having the church building in disrepair, junk in the hallways, shabby furniture, poor quality speaking, music, videos, graphics, etc.; how did you feel there? Why does a lack of excellence – even in these small practical areas – hurt a local church’s witness for Jesus Christ?
11. When a church does things with excellence, how does that help draw people in our community toward Jesus Christ?
12. Acts 2:47 describes the ultimate sign of an alive church that is seeking to be what Jesus intended it to be: “and the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Yet most local churches aren’t growing; in fact, many are shrinking. Why do you think this is?
13. How could you be part of helping our local congregation become the kind of church where God can add daily to our numbers those who are being saved?