Winter /Spring Series
Living and Thriving Again!
Concord Baptist Church of Boston in Milton
Conley Hughes, Jr., Senior Pastor
Tuesday, 2 April 2023, Lesson/ Chapter 7, Part 2
Thom S. Rainer, Anatomy Of A Revived Church, © 2020
Quiet Time: Thom S.Rainer, Lesson/Chapter 7 (pp. 97-107)
Revitalizing A Meaningful Life – Our lives should have meaning and purpose. The Scripture tells the story of a God who creates life that is intended to be filled with perpetual purpose. Everything God creates is structured around order that is meaningful; and is intended to fulfill God’s divine purpose. When God surveyed His creation, he commented, “It was good.” The Hebrew word, tobh, as in the Greek and English, gives the sense of something that’s aesthetically appealing; but also, it’s content and design, is morally good. The trail of sin that follows the Human family, reminds us that we can be less than good, when we attempt to stray from the Creator’s purpose. This is why the concept of redemption is so common in the Scriptures. In our faith, we look to Jesus Christ for forgiveness, redemption, and renewal. The Scriptures observe our brokenness, but points us to the path or renewal and restoration. David’s epic prayer during a broken period in his life, bears witness to our dependence on, and trust in, God to help us again, live and thrive. We notice David’s trilogy of requests: Create, renew, and restore. (Read, Psalm 51:10-12, NLT; Also, Psalm 104:3-5, NLT)). Over the seasons of my life, I have found David’s personal petition useful in seeking change and renewal in life. We also must be aware, that what we seek for our personal lives, we should seek for the local Christian community or Church we call home. In his helpful book, Anatomy of A Revived Church, author and pastor Thom S. Rainer points out referring to our place in a local church as a “member” is not an unbiblical term. He points to the great analogy the Apostle Paul used in I Corinthians 12, where he used parts or members of the human body, as an analogy for the church. Paul’s vision of the church was seeing the body of believers in harmony; caring for each other; exercising their spiritual gifts; and to disciple believers, and to lead others to faith in Jesus Christ. (Read, I Corinthians 12:24b-27, NLT). While the term, members, should never be used to suggest some mutually exclusive organization; it should be used to help us understand and affirm what “meaningful membership” is about. Rainer says: “… Membership is not having your name on a roll, though there’s nothing wrong with keeping track of people…Ultimately, membership is about belonging and contributing. We belong to a local community of believers. And we are expected to be a contributing and serving part of the community.” A church life that’s meaningful, and one which thrives; always seeks the perpetual filling of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Great things will happen, and the witness of the church will bring miraculous change to many!
Revitalizing A Meaningful Life, Part 2 – The healthy and thriving church is not one that’s solely determined by size and figures. While it’s true, exponential growth in membership and finances are a consequence of a thriving church, these facts alone do not determine a church’s health and sustaining viability. The description of the early Christian church we see in the Book of Acts, provides one example of what a healthy church could be: (1) The leaders and members were given to persistent and strategic prayer; (2) they eagerly anticipated miraculous change through the name of Jesus; (3) they were filled with the Spirit, which empowered them for effective ministry; (4) they were unified in vision and purpose; (5) they were benevolent and sacrificial in giving and sharing their resources with each other; (6) And, their hearts and minds were united in passion for the mission of the church. (Read, Acts 4:30-35, NLT). The qualities exemplified by the early believers resulted in growth, Christian character, and an effective witness in an ethnically diverse world. The church is fundamentally about reaching people. The holistic and spiritual needs of people should have priority over programs, which are endemic to a church’s culture or traditions. In his book, Anatomy of A Revived Church, author Thom Rainer explains that a meaningful church, one serious about life and vitality, should provide members at the “entry point,” with effective information, expectation, and assimilation. He points out that expectation assures people that they belong (have a home); and, they have an obligation (to serve, share, and give). Rainer said every turnaround church his team worked with, saw effectiveness in this approach This is similar to the method Philip used in helping the Ethiopian official, who recently had become a new believer. The official, as is the experience of all members at their entry point, needed information that would help him understand the faith he had embraced/or, was embracing. Through Philips compassionate, yet strategic time with the official, the new Christian was shown he mattered and belonged to the Body of Christ. The brother felt an obligation to then be baptized, as a sign of his new identity in the faith. (Read, Acts 8:29-34; 38-39, NLT). The path to becoming a living, thriving church or individual is never convenient or easy; however, it is possible. We are aware that God works in the realm of possibility; but He also can bring transformation where the situation seems impossible. In Paul’s first epistle to the Christians in Corinth, he was disturbed by a lack of Christian growth by some within the church. He told members their problem was not that they lacked spiritual gifts; but they were lacking in spiritual character. A deficit in spiritual maturity can stymie the revitalization of the church, and the individual. As we grow, we will gain deeper and better!
What We Believe!
“Christians should have meaningful church and personal lives.”
“A revived life has a deeper sense of belonging and obligation.”
Psalm 51:10-12 NLT
“Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loving spirit within me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you. Then I will teach your way to rebels, and they will return to you.”
Psalm 104:3-5, NLT
“He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns mw with love and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagles!”
I Corinthians 12:24b-27, NLT
“So God has put the body t0gether such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. This makes for harmony among the members so that all the members care for each other. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.”
Acts 4:30-35, NLT
“Stretch out your hand with healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” After this prayer, the meeting place shook and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the word of God with boldness. All the believers were united in heart and mind. And they felt that what they owned was not their own, so they shared everything they had. The apostles testified power- fully to the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and God’s great blessing was upon them all. There were no needy people among them, because those who owned land or houses would sell them and bring the money to the apostles to give to those in need. For instance there was Joseph. The one the apostles nicknamed Barnabas (“which means Son of Encouragement). He was from the tribe of Levi and came from the island of Cyprus. He sold a field he owned and brought the money to the apostles.”
Acts 8:29-34; 38-39, NLT
“The Holy Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and walk along beside the carriage.” Philip ran over and heard the man reading from the prophet Isaiah. Philip asked, “Do you under- stand what you are reading?” The man replied, “How can I, unless someone instructs me?” And he urged Philip to come up in the carriage and sit with him. The passage of Scripture he had been reading was this: “He was led like a sheep to the slaughter. And as a lamb is silent before the shearers, “He did not open His mouth. He was humiliated and received no justice. Who can speak of His descendants? For His life was taken from the earth.” The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, was the prophet talking about himself or someone else?” So beginning with this same Scripture, Philip told him the Good News about Jesus… He 0rdered the carriage to stop, and they went down into the water, and Philip baptized him… The eunuch never saw him again, but went on his way rejoicing.”