[forthright] Starting a Congregation

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From: Forthright Magazine <ba@...>
Date: Mon, 01 Mar 2004 16:10:49 -0600
Forthright Magazine
http://www.forthright.net
Straight to the Cross


COLUMN:  Final Phase

Starting a Congregation
by J. Randal Matheny

Next Sunday, we're beginning a new work in a major
city near us, called Taubaté. This city has 250,00
population, with no church there yet.

Three couples of us met there yesterday, in a
home, to worship together and plan ahead. I
preached on what it takes to start a congregation
from Acts 2. Let me encourage you to read this
chapter before continuing.

Some years ago, there was a beginning made to
establish a congregation in this city. A lot was
bought for future construction. But the work
stopped and the beginning died. During all these
years, the lot has remained empty.

We are not here to condemn that effort. We are
here to consider what is necessary to our effort
so that our beginning will not end like theirs.

Let us consider, then, from Acts 2, the beginning
of the church of Jesus Christ, what is necessary
to begin a congregation that will continue and
grow.

First, there must be a message. Not just any
message, but the message of Christ. Somebody must
preach it. That somebody must be me.

This message, by its very nature, explains what
God did in Christ and how a person may receive
salvation. It includes exhortation or
encouragement to act, to save oneself. Preaching
seeks for a reaction, a response.

When the gospel is preached, people convert to the
Lord, and God adds them to his church. Thus, a
church is "born".

Second, there must be a meeting. The word church,
in its active sense, means "assembly, a
congregating, meeting." We are the people of God
united around the table of the Lord.

The breaking of bread is the number 1 reason for
our meeting (Acts 20:7). We meet on Sunday in
order that Jesus may drink the new wine with us
(Matt. 26:29).

In order to have a meeting, we must have a place,
though that is an incidental consideration.
Whether it's a building, a home, a school - any
place that permits Christians to worship is
adequate for the purpose.

Third, there must be a mettle, a dedication of
those who preach and meet. Without commitment and
consistency, little will be done.

This commitment follows the apostles' teachings
and offers up constant prayer for the wisdom and
power of God.

This devotion uses physical resources and money
for spiritual purposes.

This mettle is not turned aside by persecution,
nor broken by discouragement.

Some 10-12 years ago, two couples wanted to begin
a congregation in their neighborhood. They decided
to begin a study group in one of their homes. They
committed themselves to meet every week, rain or
shine, to share the gospel with people they would
meet.

They preached, they met, they showed their mettle.

Today, they are a large congregation with elders
and deacons.

Will you preach the gospel? Will you meet as a
church? Will you assume the commitment to fulfill
God's mission in this city? If so, there will be
not only the beginning of a congregation, but
great growth in God's kingdom.

That was the gist of my sermon yesterday.

Why do I share it with you?

First, to point you to the message of salvation in
Jesus Christ and the need to obey the gospel (v.
38). If you haven't done so yet, believe in
Christ, decide to change your life, and be
immersed in water so that your sins may be
forgiven.

Second, to remind you, if you are a Christian,
that every person, every city, every region, needs
the gospel. Preach and meet in a new place with
dedication. Only in this way will everyone hear.

Third, to ask for your prayers, as one more city
hears the gospel. Our resources are meager, but
our determination is sharp, and, more importantly,
our God is great and powerful.

We see that in the beginning of the church in Acts
2. And we believe we will see it also in the
beginning of the church in Taubaté.

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