"They [the early Christians] devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.... 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, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved."1
Bruce Larson tells this story in his book, Faith for the Journey. Once there was a successful factory that made drills. One day the owner told his corporate officials that he was going to retire and that he had chosen his son as his successor. At the next board meeting the son asked his four vice presidents, "What are your goals for the company for the next five to ten years?"
One vice-president replied, "Well sir, we're looking at new sizes and shapes for different drills."
The son then dropped his bombshell. "I have news for you—there is no market for drills." One could feel the tension in the air. He continued, "From now on we will not think drills. We will not sell drills. We'll sell holes! People don't want to buy a drill; they want to make a hole!"
As they began to think of other ways to create holes they developed, among other methods, lasers for drilling holes. This attitude change and other innovations keep this company in business while its competitors lost large shares of the market and some even went bankrupt.2
It wasn't aptitude but attitude that made the difference!
Reports by research specialist, George Barna, in recent years have shown that the church and Christians as a whole in the U.S.A. are not making any significant impact on the culture. Also, there is little difference in the manner of living between Christians and non-Christians. Others such as Chuck Colson are saying that in the U.S. we are now living in the post-Christian era. Alarming observations.
So what is wrong? A scary thought is that we could be rapidly heading in the same direction as the church did in Great Britain a century or so ago. Then the great spiritual and missionary endeavors were coming out of their country. But today the church there is but a shadow of what it was. As one British rector (minister) poignantly said about the church in England: "The times changed, the people and their needs changed, but the church remained the same, and little by little it became irrelevant and lost its impact." Instead of looking at itself, the church then blamed the indifference of the people for their leaving in droves.
True, our message never changes but the application of it and our methods of presenting it must apply to the needs of today's generation—not yesterday's. Furthermore, we are NOT in the business of building churches with a little "c". We are in the business of saving people and making disciples.
Like the disciples and early Christians, when we do God's work in God's way for God's glory may it be said of today's Church: "And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved"
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, today's world has become so much more complex and the competition for the hearts and minds of today's generation is all but overwhelming. As your children and church members please help us and our leaders understand the needs of our neighbors and communities and apply the gospel to meet the needs of our children, youth, adults and the aged. And perhaps even more importantly help me to so live that people seeing Jesus in me will want what I have. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
1. Acts 2:42, 46-47 (NIV).
2. Cited by Brent Porterfield at: http://www.esermons.com/.