Welcome and thanks for participating in day 2 of the ARISE fast and devotional blog. If you haven’t read day one, please go back and read that before reading
A church which pitches its tents without constantly looking out for new horizons, which does not continually strike camp, is being untrue to its calling. – Hans
Let’s start with a two simple questions:
- How many Christians do you think there were in AD 100? ________
- How many Christians do you think there were in AD 310? ________
While you’re trying to guess, just consider a few things:
– Christianity was illegal during much of this 200 year period. At best they were tolerated, and at worst they were severely persecuted.
– They didn’t have any (or at least not many) church buildings as we know them today. While there were some small chapels, they seem to be very small converted homes, rather than large buildings meant to house large crowds for worship.
– They didn’t have the Bible as we know it today. They had individual Gospels, and letters from some Apostles, but placing the uniform and final “cannon of Scripture” in one book had yet to happen.
– They didn’t have a professionally trained and/or ordained leadership. Sure, they had leaders. But since Bible Colleges didn’t exist and the Apostles had all passed away, the leaders of the church usually looked far more like common Christians.
– They didn’t have worship teams, youth groups, stages, lighting, Bible schools, commentaries, TV ministries, web sites, or airplanes to travel on as they shared the Gospel.
– They actually made it hard to join the church! Due to persecution, many churches made new believers go through significant initiation rights to prove their devotion and show they weren’t simply trying to infiltrate the church to cause harm.
So… Now… Would you like to re-adjust your figures above???
Here’s the answer… and the interesting thing:
In the year AD 100 it is estimated that there were as few as 25,000 Christians. However, by the years AD 310, that number swells to over 20,000,000! Twenty million… as in million with an “M” and a lot of zeros!
This is even more incredible when you consider the estimated WORLD population at this point was only around 200,000,000 (two hundred million). This means that an estimated 1 out of 10 people on the planet was a Follower of Jesus within the first 280 years after His resurrection! And again, take into account, this is a time period where the average person never traveled more than 100 miles from his birthplace… no planes, trains, or automobiles.
How did this truly amazing growth take place? Well, it’s pretty simple really – It was a movement. Even though Christianity was birthed out of Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost, it really had no central location. It was everywhere… because it was within the hearts and spirits of Christs followers (The Church).
In the market… check! In the homes… check! At the humus stand… check! In the government… check!
Like a flu is passed from person to person, this new Christian teaching was “sneezed” from neighbor to neighbor around the world.
This is what a movement looks like, and this is how Christianity grew. The change in one human heart overflowed onto another, and then another, and then another. No professional preachers, no polished sermons, no grand buildings (at least not as we know them today). Just “normal” Christians testifying of what they had seen and heard with their friends led over 20 million people to Christ in 200 years!
It was not forced evangelism. It was not door to door, or a phone tree. There was no script to memorize and share. There was no “church growth strategy.”
It was as natural as breathing. They inhaled the gospel, and exhaled it on their friends, family and neighbors. Maybe the secret to spreading the Gospel is just learning how to breathe again?
Just breathe… Don’t force it, don’t stress over it… Just breathe in the goodness of God, and exhale on your world.
You can only breathe out what you have already breathed in. Whatever you put in, will naturally flow out. If you breathe in poison, you will exhale poison… can someone say “cigarette breath?”
Maybe the reason evangelism seems so forced is because we’re inhaling more toxins than we are God’s presence?
Get in God’s presence, and…
This is the movement we are a part of.I invite you to JOIN THE MOVEMENT.
Esse Quam Videri,
Meditate and reflect on this verse and questions:
Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. John 20:21-22
- Is personal evangelism easy or hard for you? Why?
- How much time do you spend “breathing in” God’s presence?
- What toxins have you been “breathing in” that need to be eliminated? (If you’re not sure, just think of what comes out of you that you don’t like)
– Spend some time in God’s presence as you pray. Perhaps sing the song, “It’s your breath in our lungs, so we pour out our praise.” (Great are You Lord). Click HERE for a link to the song if it helps
– Pray that God would help you to become natural at sharing about His goodness.