Wednesday, June 22, 2011

13 Characteristics of a Growing Church: Love

This week I have been prepping to preach the Sunday morning and Sunday night services at Villebrook Baptist Church while my pastor recovers from surgery. While I was studying and praying, God laid it on my heart that I should talk about characteristics of a growing church as laid out in Romans. I don't want to give everything away before I preach but I will give you the first point in my 13 point sermon and then for the sake of attention spans, I will break the other 12 points out over the next few weeks. Hope that sounds good to you because that's the here you go...the sneak preview of my GIANT HUGE 13 Point Sermon...

The 1st Characteristic of a Growing Church is Love.
"Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good." Romans 12:9

In the English language, the word love is tossed about WAY to easily! We love pizza. We love going to the movies. We love our favorite sports team--Go Cards! But what does it mean to have a genuine love?

I don't want to go into a ton of detail here about all the different words for love in the Greek language (For more about the 4 Greek Words for Love, Click here to visit my wife's blog). Basically, unlike English the Greek language has several different words for love and each of these words have a unique meaning and usage. The word translated here as "love" is the Greek word "agape". Agape is an unconditionally, Christ-like love.

According to Romans 12:9 a growing church should have a genuine Christ-like, unconditional love. That means that we really have to love people where they are. We can't say "I love and accept you" with out mouths and let our actions show them differently. If you do you can gaurantee that those people will not bother coming to your church again. We are to hate the sin and love the sinner (Jude 1:22-24). When Christ was reaching out to people around Him, He didn't tell them how awful they were or how bad their lifestyle was. First, He met their need and showed them love. Then He told them to turn from their sins and from their ungodly lifestyle and they did.

That's what it means to have a Christ-like love!

A growing church meets sinners (every single one of us) where they are, shows them the unconditional love of Christ, and then through that love and relationship points them to Christ!

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