Joey Sparks
19Jan/070

Bulletin Article 01.07.07 — Equation for Church Growth: Planters

From a numbers perspective, we at the Midway Church of Christ showed good signs of growth. 12 precious souls put Christ on in baptism; 48 responded to the Lord’s invitation and requested prayers; 26 individuals (10 families) placed membership. Additional signs of spiritual growth abound as well: increased attendance, greater levels of activity, strengthening of bonds, showing a spirit of giving, etc.

I think it’s important that when we talk about “church growth,” we talk in terms greater than just numbers. However, numbers can be an indicator of inward steps of growth. I think we all would agree we’ve been blessed with growth in 2006.

How did this happen this past year? What have we done to cause growth? Who deserves the credit? What are we doing that would cause others to join us? And most importantly, what commitments do we need to make to ensure growth in 2007?

In a letter written to a church with a host of problems, Paul gives the “equation” for church growth. He was making the point that division is wrong and not to be found among God’s children. In explaining this, he emphasizes that it doesn't matter who was doing the preaching or baptizing (Paul, Apollos, etc.). In 1 Corinthians 3:6, Paul says, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.”

Our resident math teachers (Sandy Wright, Paulette Harbison, and others) might would simplify Paul’s statement something like this:

([Paul]p + [Apollos]w)Lord = growth
or
(planting + watering)Lord = growth

For the rest of the month, we’ll spend our time breaking down this equation and notice steps we can take to continue our growth in the Lord.

Paul’s first clause in the sentence alludes to his “planting.” Paul’s role in the first century was to travel around preaching the gospel and helping Christians establish local congregations. Paul was saying he planted the seed of the gospel in the hearts of the Corinthians like Jesus explained in the parable of the soils in Matthew 13.

Like in the first century, in order for the church to grow today, we need the gospel planted in the hearts of men and women. Therefore, we need planters.

The church needs hard-working, determined, and patient people who take seriously the Lord’s admonition to “go into all world” preaching the gospel (Mark 16:15).

Notice Paul’s words in Romans 10:14-15, “But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’” Paul’s series of questions prove the gospel needs to be taught and heard. He admonishes us to make sure it gets taught. He concludes by showing how precious gospel-spreaders truly are.

Are we planting? Are we taking advantage of opportunities to talk about our faith in Christ with others? Are we trying to set up Bible studies with friends and family members? Are we maximizing your potential by teaching Bible classes here at Midway? Are we making sure our own young people understand the importance of obeying the gospel?

May the Lord help us to be better planters in 2007. Have a great week!

10Nov/060

Bulletin Article 11.12.06 — The Blessing of Technology

Last week, we noticed one major thought that we should remember when it comes to technological advances. Technology should never serve as a replacement for true learning and growth—if anything, it should cause an increase in spiritual growth. As easy of a principle as that is to understand, it’s just as difficult to practice in our world today.

Technology, however, is a major blessing—even when it comes to our Christian responsibilities. The fact is that the 21st century is very much a technologically-driven century. If we as the church are going to substantially reach 21st century citizens with the 1st century message, we will likely need to implement the Truth with the aid of certain technological options.

We at Midway have already experienced many blessings from various forms of technology: computers (bulletins, research, etc.), presentation projectors (songs, lessons, announcements), audio recording devices, hearing-improvement devices, microphones, central heating/cooling, lighting, and the list could go on.

The biggest way that we can proclaim Christ to many in current generations is through the internet. The elders here at Midway have committed to having an online presence. Through the work of EvenPar Solutions in Birmingham, our official website will be “live” very soon. We’re blessed to have elders who know the importance of not only having a presence on the internet, but in having it serve important purposes. We look forward to announcing more about this in coming weeks as the work is completed on this wonderful opportunity.

Additionally, through the internet, Christians can be champions of communication. For those who are actively on their computers, with e-mail, instant messaging, web 2.0 sites, and blogs, there are no excuses for not being able to communicate to one another.

One site that I recently found out about is <www.digitalbiblestudy.com>. It is a work of the Avondale Church of Christ outside of Atlanta. In addition to constant feeds of material, there are almost 700 different video and audio Bible lessons available for instant viewing and listening. There are numerous lessons from such speakers as Dan Jenkins, Jerry Jenkins, Jim Dearman, Johnny Ramsey, Dave Miller, Phil Sanders, and many more. I found two episodes of “The Truth in Love” that featured Thomas B. Warren. He discussed some amazing evidences for the existence of God as our creator. There is some very rich and useful information in those two lessons alone. Be sure to check out this wonderful opportunity for Bible study.

In working with our young people, we can continually expose them to opportunities for growth on the computer and internet. In addition to helpful sites such as the one in the above paragraph, we can offer them specific information and updates to help them in their walks with Christ. In conjunction with our soon-to-be-launched Midway church website, we’ve created a site using a blog format for our youth. Since most of the kids who are actively on the internet are in the older age groups, it contains especially pertinent information for our Connect (7th-12th) group. The blog can be found at: <connect2theworld.blogspot.com>. I hope this can be of help with communication not only to young people, but also to you parents who are eager to help your children grow in the Lord.

“For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.”
1 Corinthians 9:19-23

Thanks to the Lord for opening up these opportunities to spread the good news of His son. Thanks to those who use these and support their use in the world today. God bless you this week!

3Nov/060

11.05.06 Bulletin Article — The Trouble with Technology

It’s great to have everyone here this morning for our Friends & Family Day! We’re excited to have Brother Dennis Jones with us. We’re glad you’re here and we look forward to spending time with you on this fine Lord’s day!

If you’ve been watching news on television throughout the years, you’ve probably noticed a distinct difference between now and the “way it used to be.” Many years ago, Americans would watch Walter Cronkite and others in order to find out the news. I used to watch Sportscenter on ESPN to find out sports scores and happenings. Now, thanks to the Internet and 24-hour news channels, the designed “news” programs play a much different role. Unfortunately, our trusted news sources are almost forced to mix opinions with fact in order to be able to deliver something that will be entertaining to audiences. I suppose this is one reason Americans have become so aware of so-called “media biases.” Because we can get news on the Internet or continual news TV channels as soon as it happens, we have lessened the importance of the traditional half-hour news program (or newspaper, for that matter).

As Christians, we have benefited greatly from technology as well. We have an almost endless supply of articles, commentaries, and other Biblical resources literally at our fingertips. Additionally, there are numerous ways in which we can pull up specific Bible verses and passages (Bible Gateway is a good one). This is an amazing way to use technology to help us in our pursuit of Biblical knowledge. However, if we replace dedicated time and diligent effort for easy-to-use digital offerings, we will miss out on vital Scriptural lessons. May we always value the complete Word of God.

“Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages of glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written, ‘What no eye has seen, nor ear has heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him’—these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.
(1 Corinthians 2:6-10, ESV)

Once again, it’s great to see you on our Friends & Family Day! We hope you have a wonderful day and a great week in service to Him!