The mission of the church at its best throughout the centuries has been an outward mission focused on sharing the love Jesus has for the world with the world. Christianity was identified at first with Judaism, but people quickly came to see it as a different religion. In 1900 there were fewer than 9 million Christians in Africa. It should be the  basis  of our message. We must know what we believe and  why. Christianity grew apart from Judaism, creating its own identity by an increasingly harsh rejection of Judaism and of Jewish practices. 2. Sociologist and historian Rodney Stark mounted a powerful argument that one of the principal reasons Christianity grew while Roman paganism waned in the 1 st-4 th centuries was because of the mercy Christians displayed toward people who physically suffered, and in particular, how Christians showed mercy during two plagues that ravaged the Roman Empire. The Early Church was One in Christ Verse 32 tells us that the early church was one. Doing so leads to very tangible demographic results: 40% growth per decade for hundreds of years. The church then had peace throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria, and it became stronger as the believers lived in the fear of the Lord. What does the Bible say about our soul never dying? We have worked to create a community for both believers and non believers alike by sharing the timeless faith of Orthodoxy with the contemporary world through modern media. It used to be that great preaching and great music grew a church. 1st Under Nero A.D. 54-68 When Nero who had his wife and mother killed burned Rome, it lasted 9 days. He considered both personal purity and serving others as essential in the church. Everywhere Christians went the preached … Some Christians would even rescue abandoned babies, raising them as their own. At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles, who then went on to baptize 3,000 people were that same day, as recounted in the Book of Acts. One way the church spread so rapidly in the first century was because of persecution. We read that these early … Liberty and Technocracy: JRR Tolkien, CS Lewis, and an Orthodox Fourth of July. And it’s not all bad. The next pro… The early Christian Church began in Jerusalem and the surrounding area and grew out of the Jewish tradition. The Church has seen dramatic and explosive growth in Asia, Africa and South America. That’s why this matters to me (and to so many of you). And with the encouragement of the Holy Spirit, it also grew in numbers. Christ invited them to … In Matthew 16:18 Jesus promised to establish His Church. Your gift today will helps us produce and provide unlimited access to Orthodox faith-inspiring programming, services and community. Over time, the Christian church and faith grew more organized. It had a definite hierarchy – there were church elders, deacons, bishops, etc. That is, most people in that age strongly believed in God, heaven and hell, and the Catholic Church was the center of that belief. Jesus and his disciples were all Jews. The mission of the church at its best throughout the centuries has been an outward mission focused on … We are on a mission to inspire Orthodox Christians Worldwide. Describe particularly the influences from Judaism, Greek culture, and the Roman empire. The early Christians didn’t attend church, they were the Church; an active, energized body of believers equipped to change the world. 1. Seraphim Danckaert is Director of Mission Advancement at St. Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Seminary. Pope is from a Latin word that means “father” (from which we also get the word "Papa"). Early Church Defined. When debates between the different factions of the faith became evident, bishops would meet in a synod to discuss the various points of issue; eventually the synod became an annual event. But, even if it was, surely numerical growth alone isn't enough to constitute thriving. Let’s look at the  boldness of the   apostles and seek to have that  same  kind of  boldness today. We just saw that this isn't always true. 8. Christianity gave much needed dignity to human … If we follow their example we too can … If we are willing to see how the early church existed among the  Jewish, Roman, and Greek cultures, and  implement their techniques, we too, can  experience church growth. To prove this point, let us take a quick look at church growth in the book of Acts, with a special view to the church in Jerusalem. Join our email list to be the first to know about new product announcements and promotions, and once or twice a month you will receive exclusive content. We  must believe that the Word of God is inerrant and  infallible. The Church of Christ was ready to work together in her mission to reach the lost with the saving grace of Jesus Christ. In Jude 3 there is a  passage that fits the  situation,  “Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.”. First was the problem of identity. The most dramatic example of … {1}People felt threatened by this oddball new religion. In their zeal, they promoted the militant reclamation of once-Christian lands—first of Iberia in the … The I-Am's of Christ in the gospel of John, Our emotional warning systems: anger and anxiety. It is typically divided into two periods: the Apostolic Age (c. 30–100, when the first apostles were still alive) and the Ante-Nicene Period (c. 100–325).. Apostolic Age It makes the  church and  her mission  strong. If Chrsit did not  rise form the dead, we are dead  in our  sins and have  no hope of  Heaven. Like. This section covers topics such as the Didache, Constantine’s conversion, the Council at Nicea, and the teachings of Augustine.. This experience, and its resulting martyrs and apologists, would have significant historical and theological consequences for the developing faith. However, as the influence and extravagance of the church grew in people's day-to-day lives, some began to view it in a more negative light. If we are willing to learn from the  experiences of the  early church, we can have church  growth. With each election, the Religious Right’s impact grew. What does it mean that God is not a respecter of persons? Describe the factors that enabled the church to grow so quickly, both in numbers and in geographical extent. The Church Planting Alliance of South Africa published a handbook in 2000 intended to encourage, equip, and guide church planters, pastors, intercessors, and denominational leaders toward the strategic challenge of saturation church planting in South Africa and beyond. Let the  world know what Jesus means to us. Christianity, however, was a strange, new cult, and it began to spread across people groups and geographical boundaries. The most important one is the insistence that God loves the world He has created and that He desires those who love Him to also love their fellow man. Though small … Extent of the Persecutions . Bishops in the Early Church. Early Christians expected suffering. The Church of Christ was ready to work together in her mission to reach the lost with the saving grace of Jesus Christ. If we pray, knowing that God hears, and expecting that God will answer in a way that will bring  glory to His Name, we can  have a victorious prayer life. However, before being able to understand or grasp what the true current situation is, one must have some background. The Early Church Preached the Right Message. 2 A good church website can help your church to grow. As if this wasn’t enough they had to pay 10% of their earnings to the Church through a tax known as the tithe. Once again the apostles were working many signs and wonders and men and women were being added to the church Acts 5:14. Christians spoke out against all of these practices, exhorting the followers of Jesus to remain faithful in marriage (even the men! In the first  few chapters  of Acts we are told how the early church centered her ministries  in the city of Jerusalem. There are several important and interrelated reasons for the persecution of the early church. Yet a church website, specifically designed to reach outsiders, integrated with other … After this date, however, persecutions of Christians by government became widespread and violent. Implications Judaism, at the time of Jesus Christ, was a collection of several competing religious powers. After this date, however, persecutions of Christians by government became widespread and violent. from Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology and is a Ph.D. candidate in theology at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Unfortunately there is an on-going war in this technological age: Technophilia vs. Technophobia. Well this didn’t pay off for them because they both died instantly for their sin and because of the example the church grew in great fear of the Lord. He holds an M.Div. The church was considered a religio prava, an illegal and depraved religion. Religious life assumed new forms or reformed established ones, and missionaries expanded the geographic boundaries of the faith. http://gospeak.org/br/give/, Also read these fine articles and reports. And, more recently, the church in China blossomed during the twentieth century despite tremendous persecution. Post was not sent - check your email addresses! We should declare it as  the  bedrock of the Christian faith. Therefore, the church grew and expanded as a largely Gentile community from 49 to 54 A.D. The spiritual factos of the rapid growth od the church in the book of Acts were the five pusposes of the church from Acts 2: worship, teaching, discipleship, ministry, evangelism and mission. God has  told us to pray. A theology of love It’s almost a cliche. When the  Bible uses the expression “in the Name of,” as  used  here and in Acts 2:38, it  means by the authority of. The results, over time, were shifting social networks and regular conversions to this community of faith so dedicated to service. Let’s lift up Jesus to a dying world. First of all, we must set aside the pietistic belief that Christianity’s early growth happened entirely because of miracles — the signs and wonders wrought by a special out-pouring of the Holy Spirit. James taught, "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world" (James 1:27). Our remarks for this article will come from Acts 4. In this passage we see the boldness of the  apostles. Since the third century the Roman ‘Universal’ or Catholic Church, has been the largest and most dominant of all Christian … If we can  recapture the prayer life of the  early church we can better  stimulate church growth. The first Christians therefore did not meet in separate churches but continued to meet in the local Jewish synagogues. 15, sometimes called  the  resurrection chapter, verse1-4  tell us that Gospel consists  of the fact that Jesus  died and  was buried and that He rose from the dead. Instead of fleeing to the countryside to escape the most recent plague, they stayed to care for their own — and for others. In John 14:6 we read: Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. We believe in it so widely nowadays, at least on a theoretical level, only because Christianity incorporated it so successfully into the very being of Western civilization over centuries. Before 250, persecution of Christians was mainly sporadic and local rather than the result of a well-defined policy of the Roman government. Four Reasons Why Early Christianity Grew So Quickly. The Early Church Had Boldness in Defense of the Truth. There are many  today who  do not  believe in the  bodily resurrection  of the Lord Jesus. Look at the early church. After the ascension of Jesus, and the start of the church on Pentecost, the apostles and early … Sadly, that includes  some who claim to be  Christians. You will also get a coupon for 25% off your next order as our thanks to you! St Paul was one of the main leaders in the early church and he believed that the good news of Jesus was for all … Even without any knowledge of medical science, the simple act of providing food, water, and shelter to sick people vastly improved survival rates in times of widespread disease. The church of the early Middle Ages. In developing his answer to this question, Stark combines historical research with insights from the social-scientific study of religious movements and conversion. At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles, who then went on to baptize 3,000 people were that same day, as recounted in the Book of Acts. If you look up information on the history of Christianity, you may find things like, 'During the first century CE, Rome was rocked with the formation of a new religion. At the same time, church attendance began its slow but steady decline. The eminent historian, Edward Gibbon, gave his assessment of five reasons for the growth of the early church saying: I. It took then, and takes today, boldness to  proclaim the  resurrection. The Church in the Bible: The Epistles. Christianity was identified at first with Judaism, but people quickly came to see it as a different religion. Ignoring the other contributing factors has the unfortunate consequence of breeding complacency: if modern Christians think that the early Church’s growth was “merely” miraculous, then there’s little to learn and nothing to do. Therein, we shall see a church that grew by right doing, dedication to the gospel message, a faithfulness to God.. Book of Acts . Click to signup to receive weekly newsletter. 10 Very Possible Reasons Your Church Isn’t Growing: In time, the pope took on … | Powered by: Worship LIVE Streaming Services Around the World, Part XII – Hold Fast to Your Boundaries—Truth, Part XI—Hold Fast to Your Boundaries—Honesty, Sts. Indeed, whenever the world persecutes the church, it just grows even more. By. Sometime more fundamental is shifting. Although the Roman church was always highly respected, the churches in the East generally had more numbers and more authority than those of the West. Introduction. Christ invited them to “Come and See” 2. It’s an exciting ride, from the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, to shipwrecks and imprisonments, to life changing sermons delivered by ex-fishermen. No one comes to the Father except through Me. Dave DeVries - November 22, 2011. All these activities are essential to growing in Christ, and all occur within the local church. The resurrection of Jesus is the most essential element of the Christian faith. Another reason the argument appears to work is that we don't take the time to talk about what it means for the church to thrive. … {4} The persecution under Decius was the first universal and organized persecution of Christians, and it would have lasting significance for the Christian church. Jesus and his disciples were all Jews. As the Early Church expanded, the shape of the early church networks that emerged is also important to understand as we strive to get back to “the way of Christ and His Apostles.” From a careful study of the New Testament and early church research, we have attempted to map the complex network of the early churches that emerged towards the end of the apostolic age. God knows the hearts of people, and just because some people might want a church to grow because of ego does not mean all growth is bad. Devout men buried Stephen and made great lament… Christians were over-represented in cities, which made them more influential than their numbers because culture tends to flow from cities to the countryside. Now there are more than 541 million. We are left with prayer and hope, but no concrete action. The early  church declared that Jesus was the hope of the world. And, in the end, healthy things grow. If we, as modern Christians, want similar results, we must act in the same manner. Early Christianity (c. 31/33–324) Early Christianity is generally reckoned by church historians to begin with the ministry of Jesus (c. 27–30) and end with the First Council of Nicaea (325). They had  not ventured out  as  Jesus had  commanded in Acts 1:8. 1 Persecution in the Early Church Reasons Stages Impact St. Blandina exposed to wild beasts The Amphitheater at Lyon The Church of Saint Blandina at Lyons Reasons for Persecution Jewish Persecution ° Most common in the New Testament period, when Christianity was a sect of Judaism. In Acts 4:29 we read: “Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word,”  They  believed in the  power of prayer and  also of  answered prayer. Slavery, Jim Crow kept churches segregated during nation's early history; ... says the first-century Christian church grew so rapidly precisely because it was so inclusive. Now it’s more like the cost of doing business. The early Christians simply out-birthed the pagans. However, that is precisely what we see in the first-century church in Jerusalem, starting in Acts chapter two. Kingdom Keys: Why The Early Church Grew. After this he turned the blame upon the Christians and thousands were killed. A world that is under the sentence of death need a  redeemer. And, yes, I have also met church leaders who want their church to grow for questionable reasons too. Many are saying today that it does not matter what you believe in or  who you believe  in. Early Church. Social networks And, in the end, healthy things grow. Christ had died on the cross, so there was no higher honor than to imitate that death through accepting martyrdom (witness by one’s blood). To be faithful to God’s self-revelation in Jesus Christ requires more than coming to Church; it also entails being the Church — that body of God’s adopted children called to manifest His love in the world. What are we to do with this information? The spread of the Christian church in its earliest centuries is one of the most amazing phenomena in all of human history. For the purpose of our study modules, we define the early church as the first six hundred years of church history. Over time, the Christian church and faith grew more organized. The book of Acts is a record of the growth of the early church, started by Jesus’s disciples and then expanded by the Apostle Paul. Stark examines other factors, such as paganism's weakness and the early church's social structure, which helped draw so many to the new faith. Jesus  offers the only  hope there is! Even in the 90s and early 2000s, as culture changed, to ‘follow’ another preach meant ordering their cassettes or CDs or tracking them in a very limited way in the early days of the internet. This article will examine those main reasons. The early church grew because they prayed « Believing Prayer, Theology trumps methodology | Gospel Progress Mission Group, 16 things you need to know about yourself, NBC author tells funny joke about the president elect, Uncomfortable problems the church needs to talk about (1), The Amazing Enduring Perseverance of the Apostle Paul. Jesus himself set the boundaires of … The church's influence on composition was extremely significant leading up to the Baroque Era. Plagues, fires, natural disasters, and devastation from riots or war were semi-regular occurrences in the cities which the early Christians called home. Certainly, the providence and grace of God is always an essential factor. At least two of the persecutions were empire-wide and intended to destroy the church. Although some early writers speak of … In our modern world of apathetic worship-goers and millennial church drop-outs, it seems incredible to us that there could ever have been a time when a church was growing by thousands per day. The inflexible, and, if we may use the expression, the intolerant zeal of the Christians derived it is true, from the Jewish religion, but purified from the narrow and unsocial spirit which, instead of inviting, had deterred the Gentiles from embracing the law of Moses. Many Rip Van Wrinkles exist in contemporary times. Many of the  great figures  of the Old and New Testament were  people of  prayer. Click to signup to receive weekly newsletter. The handbook … Members of the early church “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:42). The total number of Christians martyred in the early church is unknown. … Share the Love of Orthodoxy Today! ©2020 Orthodox Christian Network. We would like  spend  some  time on each of the five reasons for church  growth that  we have  gleaned from this chapter. China). From the early church onward, bishops could reduce or dispense with the rigours of penances, but indulgences emerged in only the 11th and 12th centuries when the idea of purgatory took widespread hold and when the popes became the activist leaders of the reforming church. Many blamed him for his conduct. The Second Great Awakening was a Protestant religious revival during the early 19th century in the United States. During the thousand years of the Middle Ages, from the fall of Rome to the Renaissance, the papacy matured and established itself as the preeminent authority over the church. The rapid growth of the early Christian church is a source of perennial fascination. Christianity grew when it remained an “open network” with connections into the lives of non-Christians. Again and again, research shows that religious conversions happen “…through social networks, through a structure of direct and intimate interpersonal attachments.” Everyday friendships and the personal interactions of average believers are what makes the greatest difference — nowadays and in the past. Stance against adultery, abortion, and infanticide Developing church structure Yet an all-encompassing ethic of love is a radical idea. Some were dressed in shirts made stiff with wax, fixed to axletrees, and set on fire in his gardens, in order to illuminate … Its narrative supplies a bridge connecting the life and ministry of Jesus to the life of the church and the witness of the earliest believers. The Catholic Church put forth the belief that people could only get to heaven through the Church. In Acts 4:12, we read: Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” This passage declares that  salvation is in the Name of Jesus Christ. ... if modern Christians think that the early Church’s growth was “merely” miraculous, then there’s little to learn and nothing to do. In its first three centuries, the Christian church endured persecution at the hands of Roman authorities. It grew because Christians constituted an intense community, able to generate the "invincible obstinacy" that so offended the younger Pliny but yielded immense religious rewards. Luke writes, “And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. Don’t wait. This early history of the church simply reflected the teaching of the Bible as it recorded the nature and essence of the very first community of saints in this passage in the Book of Acts. Verse 24-31 record that the early Chruch was  a  praying  church. For the average person the Church was an all-consuming presence. 7. As Rodney Stark, a sociologist of religion who has written extensively on the topic, put it: “ How did a tiny and obscure messianic movement from the edge of the Roman Empire dislodge classical paganism and become the dominant faith of Western civilization?”. Teachings of Augustine n't enough to constitute thriving Media field and has sustained consistent over. In Acts 1:8 a religio prava, an illegal and depraved religion as a largely Gentile from. Answer to this question, Stark combines historical research with insights from the city of Jerusalem see the of... Of you ) want their church to grow in spite of presecution and hard times also get a for! 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