Thursday, January 10, 2008

Church Growth: Sign Me Up

While studying at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, I sat under one of the most gifted scholars of the New Testament, Dr. Alan Tomlinson.

The Lord used Dr. Tomlinson to produce in me a passion for reading the New Testament in its 1st Century context. He would always say, "Where do we need to be, everybody? Not in the 16th Century or the 21st Century, but in the 1st Century." I am forever indebted to his teaching and influence.

One of the most helpful things I learned from Dr. Tomlinson was from an introductory lecture on the book of Acts. In this lecture he laid forth three principles of church growth that can be gleaned from the book of Acts. You will find these principles to be quite a bit different from the principles widely accepted in todays present Christian context.

3 P's of Church Growth in the Book of Acts

1. Prayer
2. Proclamation (of the Gospel)
3. Persecution

As D.A. Carson would say, "Put that in your theological pipe and smoke it."


Luke Snowden said...

Excellent, Excellent, Excellent! I agree, totally! Thank you, thank you, thank you, Jimmy!

If you notice, each of those P's when used in the book of acts is attended with a sense and manifestation of utter dependence.

Prayer is the act of dependence upon God.

Proclamation in Acts 4 is entirely predicated upon the moving and filling of the Holy Spirit.

Persecution is endured and used for God's glory and the growth of the Church in dependence upon his strength and power as exampled in Stephen and the many other examples of persecution in Acts.

I would have Dependence, or as Edwards would say it, "Universal Dependence" arching over the three P's, but then again they each imply depedence upon the power of God.

I pray God would infect many with this kind of faith and thinking.

Jimmy Snowden said...

I agree with you about dependence. However, dependence does not start with a P. I guess we could call it pepedence or something like that, but that would involve too much work--getting a hold of Webster and such. Heres my rule: No matter what, if it doesn't follow the alliteration--even if its biblical--it is wrong. Ok, just kidding.

Also, I noticed that this comment came in at 8:15 am EST. That must mean, with you being in Arizona, that you commented at 5:15 am PST. What is there to see or do at 5:15 in AZ? Go back to bed!


John said...

One verse I've always heard Charles Leiter emphasize from Acts, is 4:33, "and abundant grace was upon them all."

I think it really goes along with what you both are saying. I guess I would fit it in as something of a substitute/synonym for "power." So when Luke said, "they each imply dependence upon the power of God." I would add that from this verse you could say "they each imply the dependence upon the grace of God."

Not that I have some kind of vendetta against the idea of "power," I just think this is a good verse.

Jimmy Snowden said...

Thanks for the insight. That passage is helpful.


p.s. the only problem is that it doesn't pass the alliteration test. JK