Why Did the Early Church Grow so Fast?
If you take some time to read through the New Testament, one thing becomes clear very quickly. Growth in that time was exponential. Reading through Acts, stories of mass conversion fly from the pages, droves of people come to know Christ as their Lord and Savior. The sheer estimated numbers of the early church's growth (which I will not quote here but you can find on this page) are extraordinary. For one who is involved in the Christian church today, it may seem as if something has been lost within our faith. Why are thousands of people not receiving Christ at once? Sure, fundamentally, society has changed. Our world is filled with more religions, arguments, and skeptics than one could count, much less understand. I however would like to propose that the Christian church has also undergone a fundamental shift in its Sunday morning journey.
I would like to argue that the church has changed its focus in the past couple hundred years. Let me explain how. Lets ask the question together "How did the early church grow so quickly?" There are several possible answers. First, one could chalk up the exponential growth to a "miracle," an act of God's divine intervention in order to kickstart the early church. Possible, certainly. One could account its growth to the recentness of Christ's life and death upon the earth, which I think certainly played a role in the growth that occurred, however I am more inclined to point to a third option to explain the sudden influx of believers in the first century. This is the idea of personal testimony within the early church.
Personal testimony. This is the "secret" to the early churches growth in my opinion. Seems simple right? One believer telling another their story of conversion. This simple yet complex aspect of the church has in my opinion been lost over the centuries. As the early church began, it was the Word of God, carried through the lips of every person that had experienced the power of Christ within their heart that drove the church to experience a revival. Believers were not content to sit in their shallow faith pastures and graze upon their Sunday morning best. They were convicted and driven to share the life-change they had experienced to anyone who would listen.
Today I ask the question, "What has changed?"
What was once the cornerstone to growth is now an afterthought as churches seek to "excite" their members. What was once the living breathing spirit of God within the hearts of those who serve Him has now been replaced by an idea of the speaker giving a message and the congregation listening silently in their seats. What was once a revival of people eager to share the Spirit of the Living God within their hearts is now a community of people who as A.W. Tozer puts it have "made the Word of Truth conform to our experience and accepted this low plane as the very pasture of the blessed." We as a church are ready for a revival. We as Christians are ready to be convicted, rather driven to share our story with every person that we meet. We as Christians must re-kindle the fire of our faith within our hearts, and set the world around us ablaze with the story of God's unending and magnificent love.
Today is the day to do so. We as Christians should no longer be complacent with "tomorrow" as the day we will stand up and share with those we hold dear to us. We as Christians need not wait longer to share this binding promise of forgiveness and eternal life spent in the presence of our God, the mighty I AM. We as Christians need to begin our revival today, because too long have we forgotten that our faith is meant to be shared. Too long have we forgotten that the fire in our hearts is not content to be put out every time we feel nervous about sharing it. Too long have we forgotten the command given to us by Christ Himself.
"Go, and make disciples..."